The Commonwealth government has announced that it intends to replace the VET FEE-HELP scheme with the VET Student Loans scheme (the scheme) from 1 January 2017. As existing registered training organisations will be required to apply to be approved providers under the scheme, we break down what you need to know now and how you can plan for the VET Student Loans Bill 2016 (Cth) (the Bill).[i]
What are the proposed changes?
If the legislation is enacted, the scheme will introduce the following requirements:
What are the proposed transitional arrangements?
If the legislation is enacted, the following transitional arrangements will apply:
What can existing providers do now?
Courses: review the list of courses that are eligible for funding under the scheme. The government has invited feedback on the courses that will be eligible for funding by 23 October 2016.[xv] Feedback received through this process will be used to inform current and future versions of the course list.
Provisional approval: providers should start considering their applications for provisional approval which may require information about the provider’s financial performance, management and governance, experience in providing vocational education, scope of courses, fees and modes of delivery for courses, student outcomes and industry links. This will also include whether the provider is subject to an active compliance action and their compliance history.
Provider eligibility: the government has released a guide to the criteria which providers will be assessed against for approval under the scheme.[xvi] Providers should review the criteria and start compiling evidence and preparing responses to the criteria. The onus is on the provider to submit a complete application with material that supports their application.
Application date: the government has indicated that applications will open towards the end of 2016. Providers should continue to monitor the application date.
Holding Redlich will monitor the passage of the Bill through Parliament and provide additional updates as further information is released.
[i] The other bills in the package are the VET Student Loans (Consequential Amendments and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2016 (Cth) and the VET Student Loans (Charges) Bill 2016 (Cth).
[ii] VET Student Loans (Consequential Amendments and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2016 (Cth), Schedule 2, section 9.
[iii] VET Student Loans Bill 2016 (Cth), section 31; explanatory memorandum page 4.
[iv] VET Student Loans (Charges) Bill 2016 (Cth), sections 6-7. The amount of the charge or the method for calculating the charge will be prescribed by regulation.
[v] VET Student Loans (Consequential Amendments and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2016
(Cth), Schedule 2.
[vi] VET Student Loans Bill 2016 (Cth), Part 2, Division 3 “Approved Courses”, section 16.
[vii] See https://docs.education.gov.au/node/41991
[viii] VET Student Loans Bill 2016 (Cth), Part 4, Division 3 “Revoking and Suspending Approvals” and Division 5 “Ensuring compliance.”
[ix] VET Student Loans Bill 2016 (Cth), Part 8 “Regulatory Powers.”
[x] VET Student Loans Bill 2016 (Cth), Part 5, Division 6 “Personal liability for executive directors.”
[xi] VET Student Loans Bill 2016 (Cth), Part 5, Division 5 “Marketing.”
[xii] VET Student Loans Bill 2016 (Cth), section 49.
[xiii] VET Student Loans Bill 2016 (Cth), section 15.
[xiv] See VET Student Loans (Consequential Amendments and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2016 (Cth), Schedule 2, sections 3 and 4.
[xv] Feedback can be provided to VETStudentLoans@education.gov.au. Feedback must be received by 23 October 2016. The Department has requested that any emails are entitled “Feedback on the eligible course list”.
Chris Brodrick, Partner
T: +61 3 9321 9804
Greg Wrobel, Partner
T: +61 2 8083 0411
Bede Haines, Special Counsel
T: +61 2 8083 0447
Toby Boys, Partner
T: +61 7 3135 0649
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