Representing quality private education
providers in Australia

Supporting our Industry: A note on closing colleges and schools

Monday, January 30 2017

One of the most challenging parts of our work at ACPET is providing assistance to the students, families, staff and management of colleges/providers that are closing. Our Tuition Assurance role asks us to support our ASTAS members through this process, but even so, helping our members through this time is a key part of our mission to support our sector.

While it is challenging, the ACPET team are taking heart from the great show of support by providers who are rallying around these colleges and crucially, their students. I know that many of our members are providing their time and energies freely to assist students, understand their needs and progression to make sure that their next step in their learning journey is a positive one.

From the bottom of our hearts a big thank you goes out to our sector for this support and incredible professionalism at this time. We know how difficult the current times are but the expressions of support that are coming through are not only warmly received by our team but we know also gratefully received by the students that we are currently supporting.

With this it is timely to just highlight a few key points about the process that we are using:

  • One of the key principles of the activation process is to give students the opportunity to make an independent choice about their future. What this practically means is that we provide them independent information on their options and time to make the choice. For many of the students and their families it is a confusing time – clear consistent information is important as well as making a decision without a sense of pressure that a place of future learning will be lost if, an offer is not accepted. The timing of many of the colleges that have closed (over Christmas) has exacerbated many of our students worry and concern making the TAS process even more vital.
  • ACPET is (unfortunately) processing thousands of students and many colleges. We are (as much as appropriate and possible) setting up automated systems so that we may more accurately place and match students and capture data required. We are directing providers interested in supporting students of activated colleges to complete the EOI on our Activations page. This tool allows us to capture the right type of information for us to match students more accurately and seamlessly. Completing all parts of the tool is important for us to understand what is available for the displaced students. As we progress through course matching, we will be reaching out to some second providers to ensure we have the full set of information on what they can offer. For those providers who are contemplating putting an offer of support forward, could we just encourage you to complete all parts of the EOI tool. It just assists us in maximising the opportunity to match and to minimise the time involved.
  • It is pleasing to see that many of the providers that are taking on students from closed colleges are taking the time to understand how far the student has progressed in their course – from both a unit of competence perspective and, also, census dates (progression through the student loan). It is important that students are not “double charged” for learning they have already done, and the achievements that they have made, are recognised by second providers. Not only is this a requirement under the HESA Act and VET Guidelines, it is also congruent with ACPET’s own Code of Ethics and broader principles of the National VET System. Sadly, from time to time we do get concerns from students, and parents (and even local MPs) about second providers “double charging”. When this does occur we will address this directly with providers.

Just in closing can we again thank our members and stakeholders of the sector for the great support.

As we move through the current set of activations there will be further lessons to reflect upon – working with the colleges, administrators, government (state and federal) insurers, staff, students and their families delivers rich opportunity to learn about the risks, causes and potential strategies for a resilient future. While I personally look forward to a time (hopefully not too long in the future) where this can be reflected upon, in the meantime, the work to support our students and stakeholders at this time continues.

Kit McMahon
Chief Operating Officer 


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