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With the recent new about Careers Australian, many students are understandably distressed and frighten their tuition is going down the drain. Careers Australia students may call you seeking help, it's clear from articles and social media that many don't know what happens to a student's training if a Training Provider ceases operations before the end of the student's qualification.
For Providers and their staff, it's an opportunity to talk about the RTO Standards 2015 and what protection they provide to students in situations like this.
These situation are covered in Section 7 For the RTO Standards 2015, clause 7.3:
"Where the RTO requires, either directly or through a third party, a prospective or current learner to prepay fees in excess of a total of $1500 (being the threshold prepaid fee amount), the RTO must meet the requirements set out in the Requirements for Fee Protection in Schedule 6."
S chedule 6 discusses what protections are in place for prepaid fees over the $1500 threshold.
If the RTO is a government entity or a University, the may collect more than $1500 in prepaid fees if they have a policy to 'addressing learning fee protection arrangements".
Basically, this means they have to place the student in an equivalent course that is
* In a location suitable to the learner
* the full service for which the learner prepaid
* refund any prepaid fee for services yet to be delivered about the threshold prepaid fee amount.
There are two main options for Providers who are not Government Entities or Universities.
An Unconditional Bank Guarantees gives the owner the right to call on the amount if the contractor (RTO) cannot fulfil their obligation. The Guarantee must be no less than the total pre-paid fees above the threshold ($1500).
If the RTO goes insolvent they can use the bank guarantee to refund all the fees over the threshold amount.
A tuition assurance scheme is a kind of like an insurance policy. If the RTO ceases operations then the provider of the assurance will make arrangement for the student to finish their training or
the new location is geographically close to where the learner had been enrolled, and
the learner receives the full services for which they have prepaid at no additional cost to the learner or
if an equivalent course cannot be found, the learner is paid a refund of any prepaid fees for services yet to be delivered above the threshold prepaid fee amount.
There is a provision of other measures approved by the regulator. It's less common than the first two options.
Careers Australia has suspended operations, not ceased operations, and for some students, this is significant. The Administrators, PPB Advisory, are in discussion to sell the Nursing Division , and retained the 120 staff in the nursing division have been retained. It may continue operations under a new owner
The other entities under Careers Australia will most likely cease operations. Once PPB Advisory makes the decision to cease operations, the tuition assurance scheme will be in operations and another provider can take on the training or a refund of the prepaid fees above the threshold.
If you're speaking to a Careers Australia student, let them know you understand it's a confusing and distressing time, and reassure them that there are protections in place. Be clear that they will not be lumped with a VET FEE-HELP debt and no qualification, and that they can still complete their training. You can refer them to TAFE Directors Australia, who are in charge of their Tuition Assurance Scheme, and had already set up a call centre to support them
Student information sessions will be held on the following dates and locations:
Tuesday 6 and Wednesday 7 June: Perth, North Metropolitan TAFE, East Perth Campus, 140 Royal Street (9.30 am or 12 pm)
Friday 9 June: Brisbane, C Block Performance Centre, TAFE Queensland, Southbank Campus,
66 Ernest Street, SOUTH BRISBANE (9.30 am or 12 pm)
There is a number of anecdotal stories from students that Centrelink was immediately cancelling support payment. This is very negative side effective of the lack of public knowledge on the VET Sector because Careers Austral did not cease operations and until such time as Careers Australia ceases operations, the student is still technically enrolled. One they cease operations and the Tuition Assurance Scheme be able to make arrangements to transfer the student where possible.
If Centrelink is cancelling student's support payments, I believe it's premature. If you have students in this situation, please refer them to the Department's recent statement. If they feel the decision is unjust, they can ask Centrelink for a review, or contact the the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.
All information was verified at the time of punlishing this blog. Please feel free to comment with updates or new information as it arises.