Sounds like a fairy story? More like a horror story as the effects of the recent amendments to the Higher Education Support Act in relation to VET FEE-HELP work their way through the system.

Under the new rules many RTOs will not be eligible to apply to become a VET Provider, limiting student choice. Also, based on my initial research with recently approved VET Providers there are students currently receiving VET FEE-HELP assistance that will not be afforded this option after 1st January 2016 for their ongoing studies. I’m not sure that disadvantaging students in this way was an intended consequence of the amendments.

You may wonder why someone who lives in the world of higher education might be concerned about these changes when there is no impact on FEE-HELP – yet.

Well, it appears that the main protagonists that spurred on the VET FEE-HELP debacle are now moving into higher education. If the same marketing models that brought VET FEE-HELP to its knees are deployed in higher education who knows what will happen? Let’s hope that each HEP’s independent governance will temper any bad behaviour. Also, and fortunately, higher education has a proactive and diligent regulator that will not tolerate the kind of behaviour that has bedevilled the VET sector during the VET FEE-HELP experiment.

And so I will end this short post with the words of George Santayana: “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”.

Dr Peter Ryan

Founder & CEO, Higher Education Leadership Institute