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The Turnbull Government will today introduce new legislation to stop dodgy former training providers admitted to Labor’s failed VET FEE-HELP scheme from infecting the higher education and international sectors.

Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham said the new legislation would “keep the gate shut” on rorters and shonks that may be trying to move from the vocational education sector to other areas of the education system.

“This is a pre-emptive strike against the rorters and shonks the Turnbull Government has shut out of the vocational loans system after we closed down Labor’s failed VET FEE-HELP scheme,” Minister Birmingham said.

“We want to ensure that dodgy vocational education providers cannot transition their operations into the higher education and international education sectors.

“The Bill will ensure we further strengthen the already-high standards in place to assess applications and ensure ongoing compliance by those seeking to enter the higher education sector and the international education sector.

“Following the strong action we’ve taken to protect students and taxpayers through the VET Student Loans program that has replaced VET FEE-HELP, we are determined to ensure the best regulatory safeguards in the higher education and international sectors.  

“This Bill will ensure that the quality for which our higher education sector is renown, across public and private universities and non-university higher education providers, is protected and enhanced in the years ahead.  

“I’d like to thank TEQSA, the International Education Association of Australia and Universities Australia for working with us to develop this legislation and for the constructive ongoing consultation with the Council of Private Higher Education. I look forward to the support of the Parliament to ensure students and taxpayers can continue to have every confidence in post-school education.”

Changes outlined in the Bill include:
  • Sharing information and monitoring unscrupulous persons moving from one sector to another
  • Allowing sharing of information with enforcement agencies 
  • Sharing information about performance of education agents
  • Allowing for capping of value of and number of loans
  • Enabling Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency to take account of the history of related entities
  • Introducing a definition of “genuine student”
  • Introducing a six month exclusion period for failed VET FEE-HELP applicants
  • Introducing specific powers for the Minister or delegate to re-credit students’ FEE-HELP balance
  • Improving capacity to monitor and investigate non-compliance including introduction of civil penalties
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