Federal Register of Legislation - Australian Government

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VET Guidelines 2015

Authoritative Version
Guides & Guidelines as made
This instrument provides guidelines made pursuant to clause 99 of Schedule 1A to the Higher Education Support Act 2003 to give effect to Schedule 1A (VET FEE-HELP Assistance Scheme).
Administered by: Education and Training
Made 30 Mar 2015
Registered 31 Mar 2015
Tabled HR 12 May 2015
Tabled Senate 11 May 2015
Date of repeal 01 Jan 2016
Repealed by Higher Education Support (VET) Guideline 2015

EXPLANATORY STATEMENT

 

Guidelines issued under clause 99 of Schedule 1A to the Higher Education Support Act 2003

 

 

VET Guidelines 2015

 

Issued by the authority of the

Assistant Minister for Education and Training

 

 

Subject

 

Higher Education Support Act 2003

VET Guidelines 2015

 

 

Authority

 

Clause 99 of Schedule 1A to the Higher Education Support Act 2003 (the Act) provides that the Minister may make VET Guidelines to give effect to Schedule 1A to the Act.

 

Under subsection 33 (3) of the Acts Interpretation Act 1901, where an Act confers a power to make, grant or issue any instrument of a legislative or administrative character (including rules, regulations or by-laws), the power shall be construed as including a power exercisable in the like manner and subject to the like conditions (if any) to repeal, rescind, revoke, amend, or vary any such instrument.

 

 

Purpose

This legislative instrument revokes the VET Guidelines 2013 (F2014C00872) as amended by Amendment No. 1 to the VET Guidelines 2013 (F2014L00049) and Amendment No. 2 to the VET Guidelines 2013 (F2014L00672) (the Former Guidelines).

The VET Guidelines 2015, for the most part, have not substantially altered existing arrangements under the Former Guidelines. The arrangements in relation to the matters previously provided for under the following chapters of the Former Guidelines remain unchanged:

·         Chapter 1                          Interpretation       

·         Chapter 2                          Specified Kinds of Bodies

·         Chapter 3                          Tuition Assurance

·         Chapter 5                          Student Fairness

·         Chapter 6                          Student Entitlement

·         Chapter 7                          Tuition Fees and Census Dates

·         Chapter 8                          Fees

·         Chapter 9                          Commonwealth Assistance Notice to Students

·         Chapter 10                        Electronic Communication

·         Chapter 11                        Specified VET Qualifications For The Trial To Extend

            VET FEE‑HELP to Specified Certificate IV Qualifications

·         Schedule 1                        Specified Qualifications

The purpose of the VET Guidelines 2015 is to prohibit the use of inducements by VET providers as an incentive for students to enrol in a VET unit or VET course of study. These prohibitions are given effect to in changes to Chapter 4 (Quality and Accountability).   

Consultation

 

The amendments place further quality and accountability requirements on VET providers approved under the Act.

 

The measures will have an impact on all VET providers particularly those whose business models are highly reliant on use of the scheme. Consultation with the Australian Council for Private Education and Training (ACPET) and TAFE Directors Australia in October 2014 and with ten of the largest VET providers in March 2015, indicates strong support for action and particularly in relation to inducements.

 

Commencement

 

The VET Guidelines 2015 take effect on the day after registration on the Federal Register of Legislative Instruments.

 

Regulatory Impact

 

OPBR has advised that there would be little to no regulatory burden from the prohibition of inducements and or this requirement and that no regulation impact assessment is required (OBPR ID 18068).

 

 


 

Detailed explanation of provisions

 

Chapter 1 – Interpretation

 

Chapter 1 sets out the defined terms used within the VET Guidelines 2013.

 

Chapter 2 – Specified Kinds of Bodies

 

Chapter 2 sets out the matters relating to the kinds of bodies that may be approved as VET providers for the purposes of subclause 6(1A)(a) of Schedule 1A to the Act and the requirements such a body must comply with to be approved.

 

Chapter 3 – Tuition Assurance

 

Chapter 3 sets out the VET course assurance and VET tuition fee repayment arrangements, which together make up the VET tuition assurance requirements that a body corporate must fulfil to be approved as a VET provider and to maintain approval. VET providers must have these arrangements in place to ensure their VET students are guaranteed to be able to complete their VET course of study or to obtain a refund for any VET units of study in which they were enrolled at the time that the VET provider ceased to offer the VET course of study.  

 

Chapter 4 – Quality and Accountability

 

Chapter 4 of the Former Guidelines specified requirements relating to:

·         VET quality and accountability under subclause 13(f) of Schedule 1A to the Act; and

·         VET quality requirements under subclause 17(2) of Schedule 1A to the Act.

Chapter 4 of the VET Guidelines 2015 replicates the clauses in Chapter 4 of the Former Guidelines. However, Chapter 4 of the VET Guidelines 2015 also introduces new clause 4.4. Clause 4.4 contains provisions as follows:

Paragraph 4.4.1 provides that the purpose of the VET quality and accountability requirements in clause 4.4 is to enable prospective students to select a VET provider based on considerations of quality and price of training offered by the VET provider.

Paragraph 4.4.2 provides that a VET provider must not:

·         offer, provide or publicise any Prohibited Inducements;

·         engage or encourage any other person to offer, provide or publicise any Prohibited Inducements; or

·         enrol a person in a VET unit or course of study, unless the VET provider is satisfied on reasonable grounds that the person was not offered a Prohibited Inducement in respect of that VET unit or course of study.

Paragraph 4.4.3 defines ‘Prohibited Inducement’ for the purpose of clause 4.4. It provides that a Prohibited Inducement means anything that acts as an incentive to attract a person to enrol in a VET unit of study or VET course of study for which Commonwealth assistance is available, other than considerations for the student listed in paragraph 4.4.3.

Paragraph 4.4.4 provides a non-exhaustive list of examples of Prohibited Inducements for the purpose of clause 4.4.

 

 

Chapter 5 - Student Fairness

 

Chapter 5 sets out the VET fairness requirements relating to equal benefits and opportunity requirements and student grievance and review requirements that bodies corporate must be willing and able to meet and with which VET providers must comply.

 

Chapter 6 – Student Entitlement

 

Chapter 6 sets out requirements relating to student entitlement to VET FEE-HELP for VET units of study.

 

Chapter 7 – Tuition Fees and Census Dates

 

Chapter 7 provides the administration of VET tuition fees and census dates.

 

Section 7.1 outlines the purpose of the chapter.

 

Section 7.2 defines the period over which VET units of study are to be provided, or proposed to be provided, by a VET provider.

 

Section 7.3 sets out the matters to which a VET provider must not have regard in its determination of its VET tuition fees.

 

Section 7.4 sets out the manner in which a census date for a VET unit of study must be determined.

 

Section 7.5 outlines the circumstances under which a VET provider may vary a published VET tuition fee and/or a published census date.

 

Section 7.6 defines the date by which the VET provider must publish a schedule for a particular period. This arrangement provides for increased flexibility when a VET provider must publish a schedule and the manner in which the schedule is to be published on their website.

 

Section 7.7 sets out the requirements and the form in which the VET provider must give the Minister a schedule of VET tuition fees.

 

Chapter 8 - Fees

 

Chapter 8 sets out the requirements relating to the matters or things for which fees may be charged.

 

Chapter 9 – Commonwealth Assistance Notice to Students

 

Chapter 9 sets out the requirements for notices that a VET provider must give to a person that receives VET FEE-HELP assistance.

 

Chapter 10 – Electronic Communication

 

Chapter 10 sets out requirements relating to information systems used by students to give documents to their VET provider and for systems used by VET providers to give notices to VET students. This chapter also specifies the methods that may be used by VET students to identify themselves to their VET provider and indicate their approval of electronic documents.

 

 

 

 

Chapter 11      Specified VET Qualifications For The Trial To Extend VET FEE-HELP To Specified Certificate IV Qualifications

 

Chapter 11 sets out the requirements that must be met by a VET provider for the purposes of participating in the limited Trial to Extend VET FEE-HELP To Specified Certificate IV Qualifications (the Trial). The Trial is to give effect to the agreement of the Council of Australian Governments under Schedule 4 of the National Partnership Agreement on Skills Reform for the development and management of a limited trial of extending the eligibility for income contingent loans in certain circumstances to specified Certificate IV qualifications.

 

Schedule 1      Specified Qualifications

 

Schedule 1 specifies qualifications for the purposes of paragraph 11.2.1.

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Statement of Compatibility with Human Rights

 

Prepared in accordance with Part 3 of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011

VET Guidelines 2015

 

This legislative instrument is compatible with the human rights and freedoms recognised or declared in the international instruments listed in section 3 of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011

Overview of the Legislative Instrument

The VET FEE-HELP scheme aims at enabling potential students to select a VET provider based on considerations of quality or price. The provider must not, and must ensure that its agents and contractors do not, market, publicise or otherwise communicate information about a VET unit of study or VET course of study, or engage in any other conduct that may have the effect of encouraging a prospective students to choose a VET provider based on inducements other than quality or price The new requirements being introduced in Chapter 4 of the VET Guidelines 2015 are designed to safeguard the integrity of the VET FEE-HELP scheme in Australia. The integrity of the scheme is of paramount importance in maintaining quality in vocational education and training as well as ensuring the sustainability of the VET FEE-HELP scheme. The aim of the new requirements is to ensure the integrity of the scheme is maintained and to ensure that VET providers participating in the scheme do not exercise undue influence on the ability of eligible persons to choose a VET provider through gifts and other inducements. The new requirements seek to address this behaviour by regulating the use of inducements by VET providers.

The new requirements set out restrictions on the interactions between VET providers and eligible students that minimise the opportunity to provide inducements and thereby unduly influencing enrolment behaviour.

Human rights implications

This instrument engages the right to education contained in Article 13 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

In particular, article 13(2)(c) states that higher education shall be made equally accessible to all, on the basis of capacity, by every appropriate means, and in particular by the progressive introduction of free education.

This Instrument affects the provision of vocational education and training by introducing safeguards for prospective students that seek to prevent prohibited inducements being offered to them as an attraction to enrol in a VET unit of study or VET course of study for which Commonwealth assistance is available.

The Department of Education and Training identified a new trend towards activity by some brokers and intermediaries in the VET FEE-HELP market to high volume sign-up activity of students that has, in some instances, resulted in misleading advice being offered to potential students or inappropriate sign-up activity occurring.  Since July 2014 the department has received over 300 complaints related to VET FEE-HELP, many of them relating to disputes from students about the behaviour of marketers and brokers and the use of inducements. Based on complaints data, of the 258 providers currently offering VET FEE-HELP, it is estimated that up to 50 percent of all VET FEE-HELP students may have been recruited using some form of inducement. It has also become clear that the number of inducements being used by brokers and RTOs in the market has increased over the past six months as providers and brokers compete for new students.  An example of the type of behaviour includes some providers offering a $500 laptop inducement for enrolling in a $20,000 diploma course. The amendment to the Guidelines aims to address the inappropriate behaviour to protect the students.

Although the instrument places some rules on how providers may market VET units of study and VET courses of study to eligible potential students and students, most interactions continue to be allowed and there are no restrictions on the actions of individuals. The restrictions brought about by this legislative instrument do not conflict with any of the rights enumerated in the applicable treaties.

Conclusion

This legislative instrument is compatible with human rights because it advances the protection of human rights.