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END OF VET FEE HELP – START OF VET STUDENT LOANS

Recently the Federal Government announced that the current Vet Fee Help Scheme will cease on 31 December 2016. In its place, “Vet Student Loans” will commence on 1 January 2017. These proposed changes are still subject to parliament approval – however all providers should be aware of the SIGNIFICANT changes planned.

ELIGIBLE COURSE LIST
Student will not be eligible for fee help unless the course falls under the Eligible Course List. Want to know whether your courses will make the cut? See the proposed list here.

LOAN CAPS
As indicated in the Eligible Course List published, the Government will place caps on the loans available from between $5,000 to $15,000. These caps will apply irrespective of whether the course is being delivered face to face, online, or mixed delivery.
Some courses e.g. aviation related, will be exempt. They are not included in the current list – but will form part of the final list.
The list will be updated from time-to-time.

IS A COURSE STILL FEASIBLE?
If students wish to enrol your courses and they are not on the Eligible Course List, then students will not be eligible for government funding. Students will either need to pay from their own funds, or arrange alternate financing. If a course if not on the list, you should consider whether it is worthwhile continuing to offer the course.

IS A PROVIDER AUTOMATICALLY ELIGIBLE TO OFFER ELIGIBLE COURSE?
No. There will be a 6 month provisional approval provided to VET FEE-HELP approved providers; however this is subject to them first meeting eligibility criteria. The selection criteria will include whether the provider is subject to an active compliance action, compliance history, and a range of quality measures.
During the provisional approval period, ALL providers will be required to apply for approval under the new Scheme. The Department will take into account the following information in considering whether to grant approval:
1. The applicants’ relationships with industry
2. Assess student completion rates and employment outcomes
3. Evaluate any articulation with higher education providers
4. Appraise a provider’s track record of delivering education and training
Broader eligibility criteria will include:
1. Financial performance
2. Strong management and governance
3. Links with industry
4. Student outcomes
5. Three year track record
6. Course scope and fees

COMPLIANCE / PAYMENTS & BROKERS
Under the new regime, the Government will have much wide powers to take disciplinary action against providers – including freezing payments, recovery of payments and cancellation of approval.
Payments made to providers will now be MONTHLY in ARREARS and based on ACTUAL enrolments.
Use of BROKERS & marketing agents will also be outlawed.

NEXT STEPS FOR PROVIDERS
All providers should think of the following:
1. Will we have any issues in meeting the Department’s new Eligibility Criteria? If so, what can we do?
2. Will the courses that I provide fall under the Eligible Course List? If not, are the courses still feasible to operate?
3. Is the loan cap for eligible courses going to be sufficient, or will students likely have to pay additional sums to us to cover shortfalls? If the loan cap is not enough, is the course still feasible?
4. If a course is not on the Eligible Course List, what can I do to seek for its inclusion?
5. Will the banning of brokers impact on our operations?

Hamza Alameddine
Principal Solicitor

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