The National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) is calling on the Turnbull government to rule out extending Commonwealth supported higher education places (CSPs) to for-profit providers, following the latest damning indictment on the for-profit vocational education and training (VET) sector.
The Coalition government must guarantee that all students have their debts forgiven for the millions of dollars of VET FEE-HELP loans improperly entered into through Careers Australia.
“Careers Australia’s concession to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) that its agents engaged in unconscionable conduct and misrepresentation in signing up students for courses is just the latest in a long list of damning incidents from the for-profit VET sector,” said NTEU Acting General Secretary Matthew McGowan.
“While the ACCC has shone a light on Careers Australia’s misuse of public money and forced the company to return funds to the Commonwealth, there have been far too many reports of dodgy behaviour from shonky for-profit providers in the sector.
“Given the disasters that have occurred in the for-profit VET sector, it beggars belief that the Turnbull government has failed to rule out opening up CSPs in higher education to for-profit providers.
“This government clearly hasn’t learnt the lesson that education is far too important to be left to the market.
“The danger of shonky for-profit providers entering higher education is a risk Australia’s world class system cannot afford. Nevertheless, it remains a very real, albeit unintended, consequence of the Turnbull government’s plan to deregulate higher education.
“Unfortunately, the only plan the Turnbull government has come up with for higher education is to cut public investment and make students pay more, while proposing to proceed with fee deregulation and $100,000 degrees in the form of ‘flagship’ courses.”