By Holly Ferguson
Art by Shona Wong (@somecharcoal)
Starting 1 January 2017, the current system of VET FEE-HELP will be replaced by the Federal Government’s new ‘VET Student Loan Scheme’.
The government says the new program, “will offer greater protections for students and provide access to quality higher level vocational education and training (VET) qualifications that address industry needs and create better opportunities for employment.”
The new program is coming under fire due to its drastic cut of VET loan eligibility for 478 courses. Courses to which Education Minister, Simon Birmingham, says, “provide ‘lifestyle’ choices, but don’t lead to work.”
The areas experiencing the largest course loan eligibility cuts are society and culture (149 courses excluded), management and commerce (119 courses excluded), health (89 courses excluded) and creative arts (57 courses excluded).
Course eligibility has been restricted to courses that the government classifies as “high national priority, meet industry needs, and contribute to addressing skills shortages and align with strong employment outcomes.”
The courses that are still eligible for VET loans are those, which are on at least two state and territory skills needs lists and those which are part of STEM (science, technology, engineering or mathematics), as well as courses in agricultural skills.
Under the previous system students studying at TAFE, or other vocational institutions such as private colleges, were eligible for loans for any diploma.
Private colleges, such as the National Institute of Dramatic Arts (NIDA), will be hit particularly hard by the new system. As explained by NIDA’s Jane Newton when speaking with the ABC, “It means we can only take those who are able to pay for the course, not necessarily the most talented students.”
Students currently studying courses that have been cut from government loan eligibility will still receive VET FEE HELP until 2017. However, new students to the cut courses will have to fund their studies themselves.
Caps on student loans will also be applied to the approved courses, to the sum of $5,000, $10,000 and $15,000. The loan cap will depend on the delivery of teaching, such as face-to-face, online or a mix of both and other formats.
The loan may not cover all expenses of the course, as it is to the institution’s discretion how much a course will charge. If a course is more than its allocated cap then students are required to pay the difference.
Mr Birmingham says the courses on the loan eligibility list are those that you would expect employers to pay for.
The government has said that the list of approved courses will be assessed over time. Hope does remain that some of the cut courses will become eligible again.
To review a list of cut courses new.com.au has complied a list with the area of study and what’s been cut and what’s been kept.
Similarly, if you would like to learn more about the new ‘VET Student Loan Scheme’ and see what courses are still available you can check them out by clicking here.