Revised Explanatory Memorandum(Circulated by authority of the Minister for Vocational and Further Education the Honourable Andrew Robb AO MP)
Outline and financial impact
This Bill gives effect to a Government budget commitment to extend FEE-HELP assistance to full-fee-paying students in Diploma, Advanced Diploma, Vocational Graduate Certificate and Vocational Graduate Diploma courses that are accredited as VET qualifications.
Vocational graduate certificate and vocational graduate diploma level qualifications are included as eligible for FEE-HELP assistance in response to the recommendation of the Senate Standing Committee on Employment, Workplace Relations and Education in its report of 30 July 2007 concerning the extension of FEE-HELP to VET. These courses sit in the Australian Qualifications Framework above the bachelor degree and correspond with the similar levels of graduate certificate and graduate diploma as accredited by the higher education sector.
The measure is an extension of existing FEE-HELP arrangements in the higher education sector and is only available where appropriate credit arrangements are in place between the approved VET provider and relevant higher education provider(s) for VET Diploma and VET Advanced Diploma courses. This will ensure that there are good pathways for students wishing to continue through to further study.
As the vocational graduate certificate and the vocational graduate diploma are already equivalent to higher education postgraduate awards, and are generally designed as the vocational professional skills levels courses with little articulation into other higher education courses, credit transfer requirements do not apply. These matters will be dealt with in guidelines to be made once this Bill is enacted.
VET Registered Training Organisations will be required to seek approval from the Australian Government to receive FEE-HELP assistance for students in VET Diploma level courses and above.
The extension of FEE-HELP for VET Diploma and VET Advanced Diploma courses are appropriated under this Bill. It is expected that around $261m in loans will be issued over the four years to 2010-2011 under this measure although this depends upon the number of VET providers which seek approval to provide VET FEE-HELP assistance and the number of students they enrol.