The Turnbull Government today announced the 347 courses that are expected to attract funding support under the new affordable, sustainable and student focussed VET Student Loans program.
Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham said the courses had been informed by the skill needs lists that states and territories already have in place and areas of national economic need to ensure that the courses Australian students are studying, and that taxpayers are subsidising, have the maximum chance of leading to jobs.
Minister Birmingham said that all diploma level courses were automatically eligible under Labor’s failed VET FEE-HELP scheme, resulting in a list of more than 800 courses, many that had been superseded or were lifestyle focussed with little relevance to employment outcomes.
“Vocational education and training is fundamental to Australia’s future success as we transition to a 21st century economy. It offers skills that are in high demand and provides broad post-school study options for students,” Minister Birmingham said.
“We want to ensure that the courses that Australian taxpayers are subsidising and that we are encouraging students to study, will optimise employment outcomes.
“Currently there are far too many courses that are being subsidised that are used simply to boost enrolments, or provide 'lifestyle' choices, but don't lead to work.
“To develop this list, the Turnbull Government has run a test over all of the different diploma-level and above qualifications that are out there to ensure they are on at least two state and territory skills needs list and we’ve looked at other areas of high economic need, such as STEM skills or agricultural skills, to make sure the list represents our national economic priorities.”
Minister Birmingham said the Turnbull Government would consult with stakeholders to finalise the list to ensure there is the opportunity for the case to be made for any of the 478 courses that have been knocked off the list to be added back in if they can demonstrate very strong employment outcomes or strong cases to remove some of those proposed to be included.
“We have ensured that all agriculture, engineering or related technologies, information technology and natural and physical science courses remain on the new course list recognising the national importance of agriculture and STEM jobs as we transition to the 21st century economy,” Minister Birmingham said.
“The two week consultation period continues the Turnbull Government’s comprehensive and consultative approach to implementing the new Vocational Education and Training Student Loans program in 2017.”
Minister Birmingham said the Turnbull Government was acting swiftly to end Labor’s failed VET FEE-HELP scheme and implement a new program that will provide value for money to both students and taxpayers via tougher barriers to entry for providers, properly considered loan caps on courses, stronger course eligibility criteria that aligns with industry needs, mandatory student engagement measures, a prohibition on the use of brokers to recruit students and a stronger focus on students successfully completing courses.
“The Turnbull Government’s new VET Student Loans program will return integrity to the vocational education sector and deliver a win-win for students and taxpayers through a range of protections,” Minister Birmingham said.
“VET Student Loans will only support legitimate students to undertake worthwhile and value-for-money courses at quality training providers.
“We will close off new loans under VET FEE-HELP at the end of 2016, with the new program including course restrictions for providers, loan caps to begin from January 2017 and student engagement requirements commencing from mid-2017.
“Central amongst our new program is the need for providers to go through a rigorous application process and extensive monitoring and evaluation to ensure they are delivering education that students and employers value and that taxpayers are willing to continue supporting.
“The belt and braces approach to safeguards the Turnbull Government is undertaking should ensure there is no repeat of the mess and mistakes Labor made with their poorly thought-through and ill-considered policies for VET FEE-HELP.”
The Turnbull Government wants to hear your views on the eligible course list. You can have your say by providing feedback to VETStudentLoans@education.gov.au. Feedback must be received by 23 October 2016.
Further information about the Turnbull Government’s new VET Student Loans scheme can be found at https://www.education.gov.au/vet-student-loans