The Australian Government has announced that the VET Student Loan limits have been increased for a number of courses, with the changes scheduled to come into effect from today, 29 January 2020. More than one hundred courses have seen the VET Student Loan cap increase, reflecting advocacy undertaken by ITECA and other stakeholders to ensure students have access to loans that more closely reflect the cost of delivery.
Key Issues —
The VET Student Loans program assists eligible students pay tuition fees for approved higher-level (diploma and above) vocational education and training (VET) courses, when studying at approved course providers.
The Australian Government assesses whether a course is eligible for a VET Student Loan and the maximum loan cap for that course. There have been some expected removals and additions to the eligible courses; however, of considerable interest is the increase in the loan cap for a number of courses.
There were sixteen courses removed from the list that are now non-current, deleted, or have been superseded for more than twelve months. These were in areas including racing services, industrial design, food processing, geosciences and seafood processing. Existing VSL students can continue to be taught-out (and access VSL) in accordance with the regulatory standards.
There have been twenty-two courses added to the list as now meeting the VSL criteria: being either on at least two state and territory subsidy/skills lists; a STEM related course; or required by a jurisdiction for licensing purposes for a particular occupation. These courses are in areas including electrotechnology project management, horticultural science, local government, and water industry operations. Replacement courses for previous superseded or non-current courses have also been added to the list and these make up the majority of the additions.
Changes In Loan Caps —
More than one hundred courses will experience an increase in the loan caps, in some cases for specific providers. Several principles have been applied to identify courses to move up one cap band. Loan caps were moved where program data for completed VSL students indicated the cap was not sufficient to cover at least 80 per cent of full fee paying students. Loan caps were moved up a band to at least match the states and territories’ price for subsidised students since, by definition, states cannot subsidise by more than the full fee cost of a course. Courses have not been moved in cases where there was either insufficient evidence from VSL program data or a lack of state and territory price and subsidy information.
The full list of changes was published by the Australian Government on 28 January 2020, taking effect from 29 January; the changes can be downloaded from:
VSL Provider Information —
The Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia (ITECA) supported a number of members that made direct representations to government when the VSL loan cap were heavily mismatched against the price of delivery. It is pleasing to see that there was an increase in the VSL cap in most of these cases.
In November 2019, COAG Skills Ministers announced a review of VET Student Loans that will examine scope for greater parity of access for students across Australia taking into account state subsidy arrangements and alternative higher education options. These issues will be discussed at the 2020 Vocational Education & Training Business Summit to be held on 7 February 2020 in Sydney. Information is available online at:
ITECA Event Information —
The COAG review of VET Student Loans will be completed in April 2020 and inform future changes to the program in alignment with broader VET Reform work underway. The next update to the VSL course list is scheduled for January 2021.
The VET Student Loans program is of considerable interest to the independent tertiary education sector. As the ITECA State of The Sector Report notes, independent providers support more than 58% of the students undertaking a VET Diploma or higher qualification.
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 Vocational Education Reference Committee.
Further Information —
For more information on this issue please send an email to [email protected] or telephone 1300 421 017. Stay up to date via Twitter @ITECAust or via Facebook at www.facebook.com/ITECAust.
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