VET FEE-HELP Blowout Needs Urgent Action

The release today of the 2014 VET FEE-HELP Statistical Report demonstrates, yet again, why the Turnbull Liberal Government needs to act urgently to clean out the sharks and shonks in the vocational education sector.

The report, which was released online and  under the cover of darkness with no word from the Minister, highlights that the number of VET FEE-HELP loans issued more than doubled between 2013 and 2014 – from just over 100,000 to nearly 203,000. 

And the value of VET FEE-HELP payments to providers has ballooned from $699 million in 2013 to $1.75 billion in 2014 .

The Turnbull Liberal Government has been asleep at the wheel.

They now need to stop merely tinkering around the edges and properly address this blowout in VET FEE-HELP debt, which could end up as a huge cost to taxpayers.

For the past 18 months we have seen hundreds of media reports about the sharks and shonks that are targeting vulnerable Australians, providing little or no training for over-priced courses and saddling those that can least afford it with thousands of dollars of debt.

The recent Senate Education and Employment References Committee inquiry heard that this is not just an issue of a few dodgy providers but one of widespread and systemic rorting.

In his submission to the Senate Inquiry into the operation, regulation and funding of private vocational education and training (VET) providers in Australia, Andrew Norton, Higher Education Program Director and the Grattan Institute, estimates that “40 per cent of VET FEE-HELP loans lent to people with diploma and advanced diploma qualifications will not be recovered”.

This means up to $700 million in loans taken out in 2014 could go unpaid.

If the Liberals fail to act to protect students from these shonks and sharks, the cost will be borne by individual students, Australian taxpayers and the economy.