The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said they accepted a court enforceable undertaking from Careers Australia, after concerns about its marketing of VET FEE-HELP courses.
Careers Australia has acknowledged that some of its agents in door-to-door marketing across Australia made false or misleading representations and engaged in conduct in breach of the Australian Consumer Law, according to the ACCC.
The conduct included misrepresenting that the courses were free and that the courses would allow consumers to find a job.
It also involved offering iPads and laptops and claiming they were free if the consumer signed up to the training.
ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said this conduct impacted some of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged groups of consumers in Australia.
Sims added that Careers Australia cooperated with the investigation and worked to address the problems, which is why the ACCC accepted the undertaking as opposed to taking court action.
“The ACCC will continue to investigate the education sector and take appropriate action to ensure consumers are not misled about the nature of courses and the debts they will incur,” Sims said.
Careers Australia provided L&D Professional
with a statement on behalf a Careers Australia Spokesperson.
“Careers Australia voluntarily approached the ACCC, after discovering that some external third party marketing agents had engaged in inappropriate conduct when referring students to Careers Australia courses,” said the Spokesperson.
“This behaviour is entirely unacceptable and is not condoned. That is why we proactively approached the ACCC and have been working with them ever since."
In the period from 1 August 2013 to 31 March 2015, Careers Australia received and processed approximately 39 835 applications.
They said as result of their internal review process, they did not proceed with more than 19 000 of these applications.
“This left 20 242 students who were enrolled in a Careers Australia course and incurred a debt,” said the Spokesperson.
“Careers Australia has since cancelled 12,130 student enrolments and repaid or partially repaid to the Commonwealth amounts totalling $44.3 million in relation to those cancellations.”
Careers Australia also acknowledged they have:
- Ceased association with external marketing agents involved in the conduct outlined in the undertaking
- In accordance with changes to VET FEE-HELP regulations:
- strengthened the skills assessment to ensure that we enrol students with proven core literacy and numeracy skills
- provided potential students with clear information about course requirements, outcomes and the VET FEE-HELP loan scheme
- implemented the required two day cooling off period from the date of enrolment to ensure students have had time to fully understand the details of their course and the fee payment options available.
Training provider goes into voluntary administration
The private training provider Careers Australia has announced it will pay back some of the millions it received from the Government for training loans.