Federal Member for Parkes, Mark Coulton was pleased to speak on the Higher Education Amendment (VET FEE-HELP Reform) Bill 2015 in the Commonwealth Parliament today.
Last month, the Minister for Vocational Education and Skills, the Hon Luke Hartsuyker MP introduced this legislation that will strengthen the protections for students in the Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector and push unscrupulous training providers out of the market.
Mr Coulton is a big fan of adult education and is very supportive of the Commonwealth Government’s VET FEE-HELP scheme.
“The idea that people who may not have had the opportunities at a younger age to have a formal education can undertake higher education and receive a loan from the Government to do that seems to me like a good scheme,” Mr Coulton said.
The Federal Member for Parkes was alarmed when he heard about unscrupulous VET FEE-HELP providers taking advantage of people across his electorate, including in Dubbo and Coonamble.
“Problems started to be brought to my attention more than 12 months ago, early in 2014,” Mr Coulton said.
“In the first instance, a registered provider from Dubbo came and saw me and explained that unscrupulous providers were signing up people to these courses at a retirement village.
“Not long after that, I was contacted by several people from Coonamble where providers came to town and hired a room at one of the local clubs. Word got around that if you went to this particular room and signed your name $50 was handed to you with the promise of being sent a laptop and an iPad at a later date.”
Mr Coulton is very pleased that the Coalition Government has acted swiftly this year to tighten the rules around VET provider marketing, the use of agents and the invoicing of student fees to better protect students and stamp out the unethical behaviour by that small cohort of VET FEE-HELP providers doing the wrong thing.
“No longer can unscrupulous providers sweet-talk people into signing on to their courses with the offer of a free laptop or iPhone nor can they hit students with extortionate withdrawal fees which meant that students felt they had no choice but to continue in a course,” Mr Coulton said.
More information about VET FEE-HELP changes and Australian Government support for students who want to undertake post-school studies is available at www.studyassist.gov.au.