Higher Education ripoff

Our son used Fee-Help to enrol in a Graphic Design course. After completing part of the course, he defered to which the college agreed. Now that he wants to complete, they tell him he can’t. Where does one go to get advice or support?

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He should have received a document explaining his status, obligations and any time frames that may have been imposed for completion of the course when the deferment was granted.

After anything relevant in the letter, the next place to look is the contract he signed when he enrolled, regardless of what it might be called. It could also be in the school’s T&C documents that are essentially part of that contract.

My understanding is that fee-help is a straight forward loan with repayments managed by the ATO. There are many young people taking on debt for courses but having gotten f-all for their money for one reason or another and they still are in debt for the loan. I doubt fee-help will be interested in anything but his repayment obligations.

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Hi @philipjhunt, sorry to hear about the trouble. In addition to @PhilT’s advice, there is also an education ombudsmen in each state and territory that you could try, or members can access our CHOICE Help service. Please let us know how you go.

Some Colleges have lost their accreditation for VET Fee-Help due to a Government crackdown on shonky education facilities. It might be worth checking.


Your federal MP should also be of assistance - in the newsletter from mine, he said this is the issue with the most complaints to his office at present, and his staff have been able to resolve a high number of disputes / complaints. If you also contact him/her, your complaint will also result in the Minister’s office being made aware.

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My understanding is that most accredited qualifications allow at least 12 months for completion although extensions to complete study are not uncommon. If the training provider agreed to a deferment I would expect that they would have an obligation to formally confirm the conditions and of course they have a responsibility to fully support students. I suggest you also go to the ASQA website (Australian Skills Quality Authority), it’s the National regulator for the VET sector that exists with the purpose of monitoring the quality and standards of providers. You will find a ‘Complaints’ area.

Hi @BrendanMays.
You spoke of “education ombudsmen” yet,
for domestic students in public institutions for higher education [eg universities],
you are referred to the State Ombudsman, which
oversees the processes of each public institute established under State legislation.
As such, it is not designed to focus particularly on Education.

In particular, the Ombudsman handles complaints
by auditing the institutions processes and interviewing the relevant Staff members.
They minimise the whole process by
focussing on the list of issues declared by the Complainant, and
rejecting all issues that lie outside the Authority.

They do not provide anyone to represent the Complainant,
whether they have legal experience or not.

In their Closing Report, they address the issues.
There is no discussion of alternative options.

This process takes years.
I speak from Experience.

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One more thing I’ve just seen in the news is that another body has been set-up to assist students who have been with training providers that are now no longer offering some courses or are closing as a result of changes to VET funding. It is the Australian Council for Private Education and Training acpetactivations.com.au