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New VET Student Loans unlikely to weed out dodgy private providers

Mary Leahy and Shelley Gillis write in The Conversation (7.10.16) about the federal government’s proposed moves to reform the vocational student loans scheme. The authors argue that placing greater control over student fees will not lift the quality of student outcomes nor ensure the integrity of the qualifications issued.

‘Education Minister Simon Birmingham argues that the new VET Student Loans program – which will replace the flawed and highly controversial VET FEE-HELP scheme – will “restore credibility” and rebuild trust in vocational education and training.

‘He claims that the new loans program will help weed out dodgy private providers. These providers, however, have proved very adept at finding creative ways around regulation.

‘Without additional reforms to improve teaching and learning, it will be difficult to guarantee the quality vocational education needed to restore the confidence of students, employers and the wider community.

‘… To restore trust and confidence in the sector, the focus needs to be centred on developing and supporting teacher expertise. This involves improving the quality of teaching to achieve a greater impact on student learning.

‘If we cannot offer high quality of vocational education we betray our students, their future employers and the wider community. We waste money and destroy aspirations.’

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