Tinkering is not enough to fix the training sector

Kerri Carr

For-profit providers driving down training quality

More needs to be done in the vocational education sector than just redesigning the VET Fee-Help system, NSW Teachers Federation and Australian Education Union representatives said last month in public statements.

Their comments follow Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham announcing an amended student loan scheme would be introduced in 2017.

Australian Education Union Federal TAFE Secretary Pat Forward said the federal government must take real action, including a suspension of the VET Fee-Help scheme, to stop private providers rorting the system.

“Education Minister Simon Birmingham admits we have massive problems with VET Fee-Help but isn’t serious about fixing the flaws that are allowing private providers to rip off students and taxpayers,” Ms Forward said.

“Tinkering at the edges has done nothing to stop the massive rorting that has gone on, and the drop in the quality of training being delivered to students. We need to immediately cut off the supply of funds to for-profit providers because they are the ones who are driving the practices which are lowering the quality of training, ripping off taxpayers and damaging the reputation of VET as a whole.”

Thousands of youth in lifetime cycle of debt

NSW Teachers Federation President Maurie Mulheron said the federal government was “ignoring the real solutions to the government-manufactured crisis in TAFE”.

“As well as the federal government suspending the VET-Fee Help scheme which is making a few private college operators extremely wealthy while placing thousands of young people into a lifetime cycle of debt, there must also be, at the very least, a 70 per cent guaranteed funding level for the TAFE system,” he said.

TAFE pay action sought