The government plans to cut the number of courses eligible for funding from 825 to approximately 350, with the aim that only those courses that meet industry needs and offer a strong chance of employment can receive funding. Loans will also be capped at $5,000, $10,000 and $15,000 according to the cost of delivery.
In a submission to a parliamentary inquiry into the changes, the Australian Council for Private Education and Training said, “This wholesale removal of courses leaves few, if any, options for many students to gain support to obtain qualifications and pursue careers in fields of education that are likely to provide the ‘future of work’ as Australia's services sector economy develops."
Private providers have also expressed disappointment at the proposed loan caps, branding it a “simplistic tool”. In its submission, TAFE Directors Australia said that will lead to a drop in quality of the courses delivered, saying, “The proposed registration criteria for the VET Student Loans Scheme will not necessarily exclude bad providers, who will merely adjust their quality down to the meet the funds on offer.”
TAFE directors added that they believe TAFE should be exempt from the restrictions and loan caps, due to the fact their education institutions engender similar levels of community trust as universities but are not given the same autonomy.
“TAFE students have not been the cause of the VET FEE-HELP [loan scheme] expenditure blowout nor is there a likelihood of such occurring in the future,” said the directors.
The vocational education sector has hit out at the government’s proposed VET loans overhaul, claiming that half a million potential students will miss out on training and that the changes are likely to cause major job losses in the industry.