CCIQ supports bold new vocational education measures
The Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland (CCIQ) has backed what it sees as the first major step in turning around the nation’s vocational education sector.
This week, Federal Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham introduced the VET Student Loans program for 2017, which is set to replace the failed VET FEE-HELP scheme.
Centred on restoring integrity to vocational education, the new program seeks to implement higher standards for training organisations, focus on courses that align with job opportunities and banning brokers recruiting students.
CCIQ supports the “bold move” that will signal the first major step in turning around the scandal-plagued sector, which saw spiralling costs on public borrowing increase substantially from $26 million in 2009 to $2.9 billion in 2015.
Policy Advisor Catherine Pham said the new VET Student Loans program was critical to addressing the serious concerns over the quality, probity and conduct of some providers, low completion rates and unethical practices.
“For years, the VET FEE-HELP scheme was fundamentally disconnected from the quality of teaching and real job outcomes,” Ms Pham said.
“When private providers received over $100 million in VET FEE-HELP funding despite having completions rates of less than 10 per cent, the government needed to do something drastic and do it in a timely manner to stop this rorting continuing.”
Ms Pham said the new VET Student Loans program will be widely supported on the basis that it will provide clear value for money for both students and taxpayers.
“Unscrupulous providers will be quickly removed from the system and the students are more likely to secure a job after years of study and personal investment,” she said.
“Taxpayers are expected to come out on top as well, with the new program expected to save the government an estimated $25 billion over the next 10 years.
“These savings have the potential for reinvestment into the sector and result in higher levels industry engagement, enhanced teaching quality and therefore greater economic returns.”
Other major changes included in the VET Student Loans program include loan caps at $5,000, $10,000 and $15,000, which will be set for courses depending on their delivery cost, as well as paying providers in arrears.
The VET Student Loans program will commence from 1 January 2017, but will include arrangements for the 144,000 current VET FEE-HELP students to opt to be to ‘grandfathered’ through to the end of 2017.
Members can provide direct feedback to the Government by emailing submissions to VETStudentLoans@education.gov.au