Turnbull prepares for radical shake up to training sector

by L&D04 May 2016
Politicians from Malcolm Turnbull to Bob Katter have been extremely critical of how some training providers have taken advantage of vulnerable students and taxpayers.

In response, the Federal Government have announced a suite of measures to improve protection for students and address shonky behaviour and practices in the VET FEE-HELP scheme.

In the budget, the Turnbull Government has committed around $7 billion to vocational education and training through funding and student loans, and a $10 million vocational education advertising campaign in an attempt to reform the scandal-hit sector. 

However, the major measure announced has been a discussion paper which includes insights from key industry figures including TAFEs, private training institutions, industry groups and peak bodies.

The paper features ideas such as banning brokers promoting courses to students, appointing an ombudsman for the sector and enforcing minimum student completion rates.

It also raised targeting investment to courses that align with industry needs, employment outcomes, and result in a public good or provide pathways to higher education.

In particular, the government have focused on a three-pronged approach to reforming VET FEE-HELP, according to Scott Ryan, Minister for Vocational Education and Skills.

The first part is ensuring that all efforts are made to protect those students who have found themselves without a provider or been subject to unethical practices.

The second part is continuing and increasing the focus on compliance and probity activities by the Department.

And the third part is commencing the process of redesign of the VET FEE-HELP scheme.

“The VET FEE-HELP scheme, introduced by Labor, was demand driven, uncapped and had insufficient student protections in place,” said Ryan.

"The original scheme opened the floodgates to shonky training providers and predatory brokers to take advantage of the system."

The previous Labor government expanded the VET FEE-HELP scheme in 2012. However, according to the Coalition, Labor failed to include sufficient safeguards against dishonest providers.

The discussion paper will be open for public comment until 30 June 2016.

Related stories:

Bob Katter slams private training providers, calls for inquiry