The Federal government appears to be serious about cracking down on dodgy private tertiary colleges with the Assistant Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham announcing that up to 23 providers are being investigated.
The majority come from our largest states with six from Queensland and Victoria respectively and seven from New South Wales.
The investigation comes in the wake of new laws being recently introduced which will create quality standards at short notice, force unethical marketers to identify which registered training organisation (RTO) is running the course and extend the registration period for compliant colleges from five to seven years as a means to better audit colleges having been deemed “high risk”.
Stemming from widespread allegations that would-be students are being tricked into signing up for courses the minister announced that the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) would be conducting the investigation.
“Any training providers found to be engaged in practices that are contrary to the required national standards could face regulatory sanctions, including the cancellation or suspension of their registration,” Senator Birmingham said.
Breaches of fair-trading laws can cost guilty parties up to $1.1 million.
It would appear that The Australian Council for Private Education and Training supports the move by government saying that they wish for the problem operators to be removed from the system.
“Whatever measures can be taken to protect the interest of students and the reputations of quality providers must be acted on, now,” the organisation’s chief executive Rod Camm said.
“We fully accept that there are problems that must be stamped out, but this behaviour is only in a small number of providers and they do not represent the entire industry.”
With course fees for diploma’s reaching towards $19,000 two entities are affected by the debts incurred – student and taxpayer. Yes, the taxpayer contributes to the federal government’s VET FEE-Help program.
ASQA continues to run the rule over a growing list of applications to set up private training organisations and since 2011 has refused 15.6 per cent of new applications whilst refusing 6.1 per cent of re-registering those re-registering.
Head of ASQA Christopher Robinson was adamant that any training organisation that did not meet the required standard would feel the full force of the law.
“Registered training organisations are required to provide students with information including any VET FEE-HELP, government funded subsidy or other financial support arrangements and any obligations to repay any debt incurred,” Mr Robinson said.