Department of Education

To the Australian Minister for Education Simon Birmingham,

This is a petition to call upon the Department of Education and Training and Australian Federal Government to amend the Bill proposing changes to VET FEE HELP.

This damaging proposal will see access to student loans completely revoked for Australian students in 478 tertiary courses, and capped at only $5,000 to $15,000 for 300 other courses across a multitude of essential trades and industries including building, engineering, civil construction, agriculture and nursing.

Under the proposal, 478 courses are no longer eligible for student loans past December 2017, leaving thousands of currently enrolled students without financial resources to fund the remainder of their studies. Many students will need to pay upfront for 12+ months of course fees, which in many cases are $8,000 to $10,000+.

This is not a viable option for most students, and as a result, students in these accredited tertiary courses have already started withdrawing from studies following the Federal Government’s announcement of the Bill (October 2016). Students enrolled under the agreement of access to VET FEE HELP loans to finance course fees because they do not have the means to pay upfront, so they are being forced to walk away now, with large student loan debts, and no qualifications.

The direct result of this decision will be more unskilled people, higher unemployment and higher welfare dependence, as well as a larger number of student loans that will never be repaid. In addition to this, genuine training organisations will be forced to cut teaching staff and possibly cease operation as student numbers decline.

In addition to this, the proposed VET Student Loan scheme will provide capped loans of only $5,000 to a maximum of $15,000, down from the previous allowance of approximately $99,000. These loans will not cover the entirety of course fees in most cases, and will only be available to students in a select number of tertiary courses. This includes trades like building, engineering, civil construction, agriculture and nursing.

As a result, people wanting to learn a trade, enter the skilled work force and pursue a career or small business in these industries will also be required to pay course fees upfront. Without the qualifications to gain skillful employment, students will be unable to generate that income, again contributing to a damaging cycle of decreased skills training, higher unemployment and growing welfare dependence. The impact of these cuts will be devastating for employment, small business and the general Australian economy.

We understand the Government’s intention to protect students from dishonest training providers rorting the VET FEE HELP system, but the flawed delivery of this plan is instead resulting in direct and damaging impact to students in accredited training.

We, the undersigned, formally request all students currently enrolled in accredited Australian tertiary training be allowed to retain VET FEE HELP for the remainder of their studies until graduation.

We further request implementation of the VET Student Loan Bill be postponed until open consultation is undertaken with registered training organisations and all industry bodies representing the current fields of tertiary study.

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The Retain VET Fee-HELP funding for current students in tertiary courses petition to Department of Education was written by Melita Mickan and is in the category Education at GoPetition.