Government announces legislation targeting dodgy training colleges

by Brett Henebery01 Jun 2017
The Federal Government will present a bill to parliament today aimed at cracking down on “unscrupulous” vocational training providers and their agents.

Federal Education Minister, Simon Birmingham, said the bill was “a pre-emptive strike against the rorters and shonks the government has shut out of the vocational loans system”.
 
“We want to ensure that dodgy vocational education providers cannot transition their operations into the higher education and international education sectors,” Senator Birmingham said in a statement today.
 
The Federal Government axed the old vocational student loan scheme last year after it blew out from $325m in 2012 to $2.9bn in 2015.
 
The scheme has since been replaced with a program that has a more stringent qualification criterion for providers.
 
Senator Birmingham said that following this “strong action” by the Federal Government, it was “determined to ensure the best regulatory safeguards in the higher education and international sectors”.
 
“This Bill will ensure that the quality for which our higher education sector is renown, across public and private universities and non-university higher education providers, is protected and enhanced in the years ahead,” Senator Birmingham said.

Changes outlined in the Bill include:
  • Sharing information and monitoring unscrupulous persons moving from one sector to another
  • Allowing sharing of information with enforcement agencies
  • Sharing information about performance of education agents
  • Allowing for capping of value of and number of loans
  • Enabling Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency to take account of the history of related entities
  • Introducing a definition of “genuine student”
  • Introducing a six month exclusion period for failed VET FEE-HELP applicants
  • Introducing specific powers for the Minister or delegate to re-credit students’ FEE-HELP balance
  • Improving capacity to monitor and investigate non-compliance including introduction of civil penalties

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