The major private training provider Australian Careers Network (ACN) today filed for voluntary administration, taking around $160 million of taxpayers’ dollars with it and leaving more than 15,000 students and 500 staff in the lurch.
Today’s events are a result of the Abbott-Turnbull Government being asleep at the wheel when it comes to the management of Australia’s vocational education and training (VET) system.
The Abbott-Turnbull Government allowed ACN to bill taxpayers for around $160 million in VET FEE-HELP in 2015 alone, despite increasing concern that rapidly growing private providers were using unscrupulous agents recruiting vulnerable students who had little chance of completing qualifications.
The total amount taxpayers will have forked out to ACN at the end of the day is unknown.
However, the Liberals have admitted they are expecting VET FEE-HELP expenditure for 2015 to have blown out to $3 billion.
But the Liberals not only ignored the skyrocketing growth in VET FEE-HELP student loans; they also withheld the tools that the regulator (Australian Skills Quality Authority) needed to effectively crack down on the shonks and sharks in the VET sector.
Throughout 2014 and 2015 there were regular media reports about shonks and sharks targeting vulnerable people and rorting the system, yet the Liberal Government failed to take action before it was too late.
Under the Liberals’ watch, the VET sector has been in crisis with VET FEE-HELP loans escalating from $699 million in 2013 to $1.7 billion in 2014.
At every point, the Abbott-Turnbull Government refused to act to stop dodgy operators targeting vulnerable people.
The Liberals have repeatedly refused to establish a VET Ombudsman.
The Liberals are still refusing to cap student fees.
These latest reports confirm that the Liberals’ gross mismanagement has allowed the shonks and sharks to continue to rort taxpayer funds and rip students off.
What’s worse, they now have a secret plan to takeover and destroy TAFE.
Malcolm Turnbull now needs to step up and clean up the mess in the VET sector, stop the rorts and come clean on his plans for a TAFE-destroying takeover.
TUESDAY, 22 MARCH 2016