After the travesty that was the VET Fee-Help scheme and the "shonky providers" publicity that went along with that (whereby all RTOs – good and bad – were lumped into one ‘shonky’ basket) – the government introduced the ill-conceived and almost unworkable VET Student Loan scheme (VSL). The VSL scheme was devised by the government, and ‘cobbled together’ by bureaucrats, with no consultation with reputable VFH providers who had nothing whatsoever to do with the rorts and rip-offs undertaken by the shonks.
With the implementation of the VSL scheme came the introduction of financial caps whereby students could borrow a maximum amount (decided by the government) for each course of study. For example, the financial cap for a one-year diploma of business course is $5k – and the student has to finance any gap amount themselves. I would love to meet anyone from an RTO that can deliver a one-year, full-time, face-to-face business course, with a maximum of 18 students in the class – for $5k.
To add insult to injury, many universities (in fact most) then opened University Colleges and offered diploma courses to students. But there is no way that RTOs can compete with these colleges. Universities offer Diploma courses to students under HECS (HELP) – which allows students to borrow the full cost of the course i.e. up to $22k for a Diploma of Business.
And in an effort to encourage potential students to choose to enrol at a university college rather than an RTO (if their borrowing potential weren’t sufficient reason), students are contacted by UAC advising them that they have received a ‘Slip Back Offer – and Congratulating them on gaining a place at ??? university college’ (of course students and parents aren’t aware that UAC is simply the marketing department of universities – they just think it’s university. So much for a level playing field.
Pessimists might feel that the government is boosting university numbers at the expense of well-established, high-quality RTOs.
Published 27 November 2019
Join the discussion of this and other Challenges at the VET PD Group – Community of Practice.
Cristina Scaife is the Principal/CEO of Bedford College (RTO. 90301).