There have been serious allegations reported today about the registered training organisation (RTO) Phoenix Institute and broker Education Circle.

Assistant Minister for Education and Training Senator Simon Birmingham said he was deeply disturbed about the allegations made and has asked the Department of Education and Training to urgently investigate.

“I have asked for my Department to consider commencing the processes to remove the Phoenix Institute as a VET FEE-HELP provider,” Senator Birmingham said.

“I have asked the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) to conclude as fast as they reasonably can, their investigations in to this training provider and to consider, as part of those investigations, suspending or revoking their license to operate as a training provider.

“I have also requested that ASQA and the Department consider investigations into any other RTOs using Education Circle as a broker.

“I say to any RTO or broker – if you are offering inducements to enrol, you are breaking the law, and under reforms introduced by this Government, you will be held accountable.

“If a provider is telling people that they “will never earn enough to pay it back”, they are breaking the law, and that provider will be dealt with.

“If providers are signing people up to contracts that are unfair, they will be held accountable, both by my Department, ASQA and potentially also by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, with whom my Department is working closely on a number of investigations into such allegations.

“It is exactly this sort of behaviour– offering inducements, signing up people who have no understanding of what they are signing up for, and no capacity to undertake the course – which I am addressing through the changes to the VET FEE-HELP scheme that I announced earlier this year.

“I encourage anyone with any concerns or evidence to contact the national training complaints hotline on 13 38 73.”

Senator Birmingham made it clear that he was keeping a close eye on the sector and indicated that the Government will go further if those who are doing the wrong thing do not clean their act up.

ASQA and the Department of Education and Training will be asked to consider the case for similar actions against any other RTOs doing the wrong thing.

Media contact: Caitlin Keage 0427 729 987