Australians duped by Vocational Education and Training (VET) providers and brokers into signing up to dodgy courses are a step closer to receiving justice today.
The Federal Government has released a discussion paper with a view to redesigning the VET FEE-HELP system of providing Government loans to students of VET courses.
The paper presents options for the establishment of a VET FEE-HELP Ombudsman to resolve disputes between students and VET providers, but importantly to investigate remediation for those thousands of Australians carrying debts with nothing to show for it.
“Ensuring that protecting students will be at the heart of the VET FEE-HELP system is a great idea” said Gerard Brody, Consumer Action CEO, “Sadly, we have seen some VET providers make millions from exploiting vulnerable Australians”.
“The victims of the VET mis-selling scandal deserve to have their debts investigated and wiped clean. An Ombudsman with the power to resolve disputes and investigate poor conduct by VET providers and brokers will give victims the chance to wipe their slate clean”.
The discussion paper also raises options to change student eligibility to access a VET FEE-HELP loan.
“The low completion rates of VET FEE-HELP courses is indicative that Australians were signed up to courses without any consideration of suitability or interest in enrolling,” said Mr Brody.
“In the finance sector we have responsible lending laws. This idea can be applied to VET FEE-HELP. Where there is a loan, often worth tens of thousands of dollars, at a bare minimum the course should be appropriate for the borrower,” said Mr Brody.
The discussion paper follows consideration of a National VET Ombudsman proposed by the Opposition in its “Growing Together: Labor’s agenda for tackling inequality” paper released last month.
“It’s great to see a bi-partisan approach to ensure there is appropriate oversight and justice in a deregulated training market”, said Mr Brody.