For the latest information on COVID-19 relevant to vocational education facilities, providers are encouraged to regularly check the information available at the following websites:
For guidance on VET Student Loans operational requirements where providers or students are impacted by COVID-19, please refer to the VSL Provider Newsletter – April edition.
Flexible arrangements for students
We encourage training providers to consider flexible arrangements where possible, for students impacted by travel restrictions or self-isolation periods. Examples include flexible course delivery, such as through online delivery of courses or additional sessions to make up for days missed by students who are prevented from attending classes.
Providers may also need to adopt a flexible approach to student attendance. Directly or indirectly affected students may need to exclude themselves from their place of study for a period. Providers should document all flexible arrangements made on a student-by-student basis. This is particularly important for ensuring that your students are genuine students for VET Student Loans purposes.
Students diagnosed with COVID-19
All training providers must have a process in place for students to request the cancellation of their debt if, after they started to study, certain ‘special circumstances’ occur that prevent them from completing their unit, part of their course or whole course.
Special circumstances are not all circumstances but only those circumstances (such as illness or a motor vehicle accident) that are:
- beyond the student’s control,
- occur or worsen after the census date, and
- prevent the student from completing their study during their course/unit enrolment period.
A student’s infection with the COVID-19 virus is likely to meet the special circumstances criteria where students who fall ill with the virus are unable to continue and complete study.
All training providers should ensure that information on how to apply for special circumstances is easily accessible for students on their website. Further information about the requirements for special circumstances and re-crediting a student’s HELP balance is available in section 4.8.15 of the VET Student Loans Provider Manual.
Temporary cessation of operations
There may be instances where a provider is no longer able to offer the course to students, even flexibly. Some examples include, but are not limited to, where:
- a provider has had to close its campus due to an outbreak of the COVID-19 virus
- staff are no longer available to deliver classes (either face-to-face or online) due to multiple student or staff outbreak
- the nature of the course does not allow for flexible learning options.
The standard course of action where a training provider fails to start a course or unit as scheduled, or ceases to provide a course or unit midway through, is for provider default with tuition protection to follow. However, the Department understands that these unprecedented circumstances require a distinct response that may in preference allow brief periods of suspension in teaching activities. The Department is currently considering the available options in these circumstances. In the meantime, providers experiencing or anticipating temporary closures due to COVID-19 should contact the Department via the VSL Providers form.
- The Department’s Information for VET, ELICOS and higher education providers
- Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) website
- Department of Health website
- Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Smart traveller website