An Australian Government initiative will see withdrawal fees banned for students who have undertaken courses they have been inappropriately signed up to.
The announcement supporting the ban was made yesterday by Australian Government Assistant Minister for Education and Training Senator Simon Birmingham.
Senator Birmingham said the new measure would further protect students, taxpayers and the reputation of the vocational education and training (VET) sector.
The new measures which will come into effect from 1 July 2015 will make it easier for students to withdraw from a VET unit of study before the census date.
“From 1 July 2015, if a student wants to withdraw from training on or before the census date, a provider will no longer be able to charge a withdrawal fee or place some other administrative barrier in the way of the student,” Senator Birmingham said.
The new measure means that VET providers must ensure that where a student notifies the VET provider of his withdrawal, the student will not remain enrolled from the date of notification.
VET providers will not be able to enrol a student in subsequent VET units of study without their written instructions and a new process will be put in place for students to initiate or request their own enrolment in subsequent VET units of study.
As part of the changes VET providers will also be required to publish withdrawal procedures on their websites and students will not be charged any fee or penalty for withdrawing from the unit of study.
Senator Birmingham also said that from 1 July, training providers and their agents would no longer be able to market VET FEE-HELP supported training as ‘free’ or ‘Government-funded’.
“We have listened to students who have felt under pressure to make these study and payment decisions or who lacked clarity on what decisions they were making. Students will now have full information and time to consider their options carefully.
“We will continue to provide products and services that inform students on what they need to look out for when taking on a VET FEE-HELP loan, and I will continue to work with consumer law agencies to put a stop to unscrupulous enrolment practices and to protect students,” Senator Birmingham said.
BUSY At Work CEO, Paul Miles said the new measures would give better protection for students and help lift consumer confidence in the VET FEE-HELP scheme.
“We support the new government measures and believe it will be beneficial for students in helping them make more informed choices before enrolling in VET courses. These measures only enhance the reputation of the vocational education and training (VET) sector,” Mr Miles said.
Further details of the new VET Guidelines will be made available on 1 July 2015. For more information, VET FEE-HELP providers can visit: http://www.education.gov.au/vet-fee-help-reforms and students can visit: www.studyassist.gov.au.