The Senate’s Education and Employment Legislation Committee has considered a package of legislative reforms that will extent the Tuition Protection Service (TPS) scheme operated by the Australian Government to students with a VET Student Loan or a FEE-HELP loan; however, not full fee-paying domestic students. A significant lobbying effort by ITECA has secured a commitment from the Minister for Education to further extend the scheme.
Key Issues —
The Australian Government introduced into the parliament a package of bills intended to expand the Tuition Protection Service (TPS) scheme that currently supports international students, to domestic students. Collectively, the three bills would provide tuition protection for domestic students accessing a VET Student Loan (VSL), a FEE-HELP loan, or a HECS-HELP loan with a private education provider, or public TAFE from 1 January 2020.
Two new separate accounts will be established—a VSL Tuition Protection Fund and a HELP Tuition Protection Fund. The purpose of each fund relates to its corresponding sector and includes, for example, making payments in connection with tuition protection and associated administrative costs.
The legislation that expands the scope of the TPS scheme was considered by the Senate’s Education and Employment Legislation Committee. The Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia (ITECA), with the advice and guidance of our members, tendered a submission to the Senate Committee’s enquiry and appeared before a hearing. While supporting the TPS, ITECA expressed concern that domestic students who pay their tuition fees upfront would be excluded from the scheme. This is particularly important in the context of the discontinuation of the Australian Student Tuition Assistance Scheme (ASTAS) from 2020. ITECA argued that such an exclusion would see full fee-paying students denied protection.
In its report, the Senate committee acknowledged concerns from ITECA that the legislation will not cover full-fee paying domestic students and it supported the introduction of a national tuition protection system, modelled on the successful TPS arrangements; however, the committee also recommended that the Bills be passed in their current form.
ITECA continues its policy advocacy in order to ensure that the Australian Government will look to expand the scheme to cover full fee-paying students, in accordance with the commitment by the Minister for Education, The Hon. Dan Tehan MP, to look at the expansion.
Member Engagement —
ITECA’s ability to play a lead role in matters associated with this issue rests on the advice and guidance of individuals serving on the ITECA Higher Education and Vocational Education Reference Committees.
Further Information —
For more information on this issue please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 1300 421 017. Stay up to date via Twitter @ITECAust or via Facebook at www.facebook.com/ITECAust.
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