Representing quality private education
providers in Australia

In Focus

Monday, July 13 2015

Good Morning All

Rod Camm has been in Berlin on a relationship building tour with the Minister for Finance, Senator the Hon Mathias Cormann. He will be back with you next week and I am sure he will have lots to report about opportunities in Germany and the EU.

This is one of a number of visits ACPET has been asked to attend with the Federal Government. By the time you read this I will be on my way to China with Senator the Hon Simon Birmingham, Assistant Minister for Education and Training, to attend a series of meetings focussed on relations between our two countries with a primary focus on VET. In August the Hon Christopher Pyne MP, Minister for Education and Training is leading a delegation to India. Various State Governments are also taking delegations overseas to promote education and training.

This is a clear indication of the Government’s increasing focus on the International Education and Training sector of our economy. They are very active in promoting the fact that Australia is Open for Business. On top of this there are proposed changes to the ESOS Act which aim to reduce red tape while protecting the interests of students and Australia’s image as a quality education and training destination. The article below outline’s this in greater detail and seeks your input into the proposed changes. Please take the opportunity to contribute.

The Government is also making changes to student visa arrangements to simplify the classifications. These changes will be a key focus of discussions at APIEF on 26 August. I encourage all of you engaged in International Education and Training or contemplating it to join us at this Forum. Again it is an opportunity to provide ACPET with your thoughts on the policy settings we should be advocating on your behalf.

There are a number of factors converging at the moment to support the growth in international education and training delivered in Australia.

VET FEE HELP continues to be the focus of much attention. The Government has gazetted a number of changes aimed at overcoming some of the criticism of the original version of the program. However there is still a lot of uncertainty in the minds of some providers. Below are some areas where ACPET is fielding a lot of questions:

  • Disclosure of Fees. It is very clear in the Guidelines that VET FEE HELP providers are required to ensure that their course fees are readily available for potential students on advertising and promotional materials. This includes making them available on the organisation’s website. Having a contact arrangement that leads to a sales person who can then provide the enquirer with fee information does not satisfy this requirement.
  • Census Dates. This remains an area of concern. I am aware of providers with two census dates for a diploma course and some with as many as 19 census dates. The lack of a clear understanding of what is meant by a “Unit of Study” has added to the confusion. It appears the Government is looking to mandate four units of study for a diploma course. They also seem to be suggesting four census dates with one in each “term”. There is no clear indication of how this works with rolling intakes and on line delivery. ACPET is continuing its dialogue with the Department seeking clarification of this and other issues. We will provide further advice as soon as it is available.
  • Third Party Arrangements. There are a number of different third party arrangements that have been approved for the delivery of VET FEE HELP courses. Some of the arrangements have resulted in complaints and disputes between the parties, students and other providers. One of the things we believe needs to be very clear in the documented arrangements is the recruitment arrangements. ACPET was so concerned about some of the recruitment practices earlier in the year that we introduced a Code of Practice to provide guidance and some key principles we expect all members to adhere to in this area. Not clearly documenting recruitment arrangements in line with the Code of Practice is unacceptable.
    The other area that is causing problems in some third party arrangements is the lack of certainty around who is the RTO with which the students are enrolled and thus issue the certificate to successful students. Not only does this need to be clearly documented it must also be very clear to students. Although these things are clear in the guidelines, some arrangements that are in place are not as clear as they should be and have caused confusion and complaints.

VET FEE HELP is a terrific government initiative to provide financial assistance to students seeking higher level VET qualifications. To ensure its continuation without an over burden of red tape it is imperative that all providers comply with the guidelines and the standards.

We have placed a lot of the important information on VET FEE HELP in the Members Only section of the ACPET website to make it easy for members to access.

Finally, I am pleased to say that the new initiative by ACPET to hold a series of workshops on the day before the National Conference is proving popular. Some people are attending the APIEF forum and some the workshops on Wednesday 26 August. Unfortunately space will require that we have to limit the number of people who can register for the workshops. So don’t delay, if the workshop topics are of interest to you, get your registration in as soon as possible.

Enjoy your week and I hope it is a good one for your business and you personally.

Larry Davies
General Manager, Services


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