Bill Shorten plans a loans cap to cut bad debts in the vocational sector
May 06, 2016 | News | by The Learning Press staff
An $8,000-a-year cap on student loans is the centrepiece of Labor’s plans to reform the scandal-plagued vocational education sector.
In his budget reply speech this week, opposition leader Bill Shorten said a Labor Government would “cut wasteful spending” in the vocational and educational training sector and save an estimated $6 billion over a decade.
The measure is part of an “integrity package” aimed at reducing the millions of taxpayer dollars lost through bad loans made to students who have been lured into unsuitable courses by providers exploiting the poorly-regulated private system.
It would not apply to courses at publicly-funded Tertiary and Further Education colleges (TAFEs), which are already highly regulated.
While accountability checks have been put in place by the Coalition and the ACCC is prosecuting a number of allegedly shonky providers, a full-scale overhaul of the VET sector will not occur until a newly-announced Government review is completed.
"We will restore integrity to the training system by cleaning out the dodgy private colleges who have been ripping Australians off for too long," Mr Shorten said.
And he affirmed the coalition’s support for the TAFE system saying: "I declare the pendulum has swung too far to private providers - Labor will be backing public TAFE all the way."
Mr Shorten said a Labor Government would give its federal education minister powers to suspend payments to unscrupulous trainers, ban the use of unlicensed brokers to promote courses, link college funding to student progress and prioritise access to loans for courses which best addressed skills shortages.
A discussion paper released by the Government in April suggests a similar approach.
The National Tertiary Education Union has welcomed Labor’s loan cap proposal, spokesman Matthew McGowan saying it would “help protect students but also provide a massive disincentive for dodgy providers to enter the market”.