A Shorten Labor Government will introduce a loan cap of $8,000 a year in the VET FEE-HELP program as part of an integrity package to stop the massive waste of taxpayers’ money, to prevent price gouging of students and improve training outcomes.
Under the Liberals, the VET FEE-HELP loans scheme has escalated from $699 million in 2013 to $1.7 billion in 2014 and is expected to have blown out to over $3 billion for 2015.
At the same time, students are being ripped off by unscrupulous colleges and dodgy providers - and taxpayers are being forced to pick up the tab.
In some colleges it is costing taxpayers over a million dollars in VET FEE-HELP loans to produce a single graduate.
Right now, students at private colleges are paying fees of $32,941 for salon management, or $29,065 for project management, $28,596 for marketing diplomas.
An equivalent government-provided course in NSW costs just $6330.
Thousands of Australian students are being loaded up with a massive new debt – but not the qualification they need to find a job.
In 2014, the ten largest private training college recipients of VET FEE-HELP subsidies in Australia were paid $900 million in government subsidies - yet less than five per cent of their students graduated.
At just 4,181 students, this represented an average cost to taxpayers of $215,259 per student.
Labor will stop this waste of taxpayers’ money and exploitation of students. Our plan will restore integrity to the system, by cleaning out the dodgy private providers who have been ripping Australians off for too long.
Many providers and brokers have preyed on students, offered free computers and laptops, and signed them up to expensive courses – and made taxpayers pay the bill.
Labor's plan will put reasonable limits on course loans in the same way limits are already in place for university degrees.
We will put students and taxpayers first, over vested interests.
While this has been happening, apprenticeship numbers have plummeted, because Malcolm Turnbull slashed $1 billion from apprenticeship support and programs.
At the same time, Liberal governments have slashed funding for TAFEs and vocational education.
Labor’s plan to rein in these taxpayer subsidies and restore integrity to the vocational education sector will save Australian taxpayers $6 billion over ten years.
Loans will be capped at $8,000 each year.
There will be an exemption on legitimate high-cost courses such as nursing and engineering following ministerial approval.
The vocational education sector has only seen one winner under the Liberals and that is the unscrupulous colleges making huge profits at the expense of students.
Other measures in Labor’s integrity package include:
• Ensuring that funding for providers is linked to student progress
• Set national priorities to help meet the skills needs of industry
• Crackdown on the use of brokers to recruit students
• Ensure that only the highest quality colleges get access to funding
• Tougher powers to audit, investigate and suspend unscrupulous providers
The Abbott-Turnbull Government’s poor governance, poor administration and ideological pursuit for deregulation and private provision of education has seen:
• More students burdened with a lifetime of debt;
• $2.5 billion cut from the vocational education system;
• Extensive reputational damage of the national training system, with industry now losing faith;
• A nation losing the skilled workforce that it needs for growth and prosperity.
In contrast, Labor has announced a funding guarantee for TAFE, a comprehensive review into the role and function of the vocational education and training system and a VET ombudsman.
Labor's National Priority Plan for TAFE places it squarely as the public provider within the VET sector and ensures TAFE's viability and strength into the future.
Only Labor will stand up for the welfare of students, the integrity of the vocational education system and prevent taxpayers lining the pockets of unscrupulous colleges.
Further details of Labor’s plans are included in the factsheet available here: http://www.alp.org.au/restoringintegritytovetfeehelp
THURSDAY, 5 MAY 2016