Information for VET FEE-HELP Students

For: 

VET FEE-HELP Student Redress Measures

The VET Student Loans Ombudsman (VSLO) in the Office of the Commonwealth Ombudsman is the primary contact point for any person who believes that they have a VET FEE‑HELP debt which they should not have. This includes complaints under the new VET FEE‑HELP Student Redress Measures, which allow the Secretary of the Department of Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business to re‑credit a student's eligible VET FEE‑HELP debt where it is reasonably likely that that debt was incurred through the inappropriate conduct of their VET provider. 

For more information on how to submit a complaint go to the Commonwealth Ombudsman VET Student Loans website.

For more information on the new measures go to the VET FEE-HELP Student Redress Measures fact sheet available on the Tools and Resources page of the Commonwealth Ombudsman website.

Notice for former students of Unique International College Pty Ltd

If you were enrolled into a course with Unique International Pty Ltd (Unique) and commenced studies between 1 January 2014 and 31 December 2016 you may have had your VET FEE-HELP debt removed.

What does this Notice mean?

New legislation was introduced from 1 January 2019 to help people if a vocational education and training (VET) provider (or its agents) inappropriately signed them up to courses.

Using this new legislation, VET FEE-HELP debts have been removed (and FEE-HELP balances re-credited) for students:

  • who commenced in a VET course with Unique between 1 January 2014 and 31 December 2016;
  • for whom there is evidence they did not complete, or it is reasonably likely they did not complete, the VET FEE-HELP units in the course; and
  • who had a VET FEE-HELP debt for those incomplete units of study in those courses.

This decision was made by a delegate of the Secretary of the Department of Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business under sub-clause 46AA(1) of schedule 1A of the Higher Education Support Act 2003 because it is considered reasonably likely that Unique (or its agents) engaged in inappropriate conduct in relation to the person’s unit of study or course.

The decision was made on the basis of existing data and information held by the department.

How can I check if I have a VET FEE-HELP debt with Unique?

If you think you may have incurred a VET FEE-HELP debt for a course with Unique, you can check whether you are affected by this decision by logging onto myUniAssist. You will need your Commonwealth Higher Education Student Support Number (CHESSN) to log in. Your CHESSN will be in documentation sent to you by Unique.

If, in checking myUniAssist, you see that you have a VET FEE-HELP debt you believe you should not have, or if you are not able to find your CHESSN, please contact the VET Student Loans Ombudsman within the Office of the Commonwealth Ombudsman for more information on seeking redress at the Commonwealth Ombudsman VET Student Loans website or on 1300 362 072 (select option 2).

Notice for former students of Asia Pacific Training Institute Pty Ltd

If you were enrolled into a course with Asia Pacific Training Institute Pty Ltd (APTI) you may have had your VET FEE-HELP debt removed. For more information go to the Notices of debt removal through the VET FEE-HELP Student Redress Measures page. 

Notice for former students of Franklyn Scholar Pty Ltd 

If you were enrolled into a course with Franklyn Scholar Pty Ltd (Franklyn Scholar) you may have had your VET FEE-HELP debt removed. For more information go to the Notices of debt removal through the VET FEE-HELP Student Redress Measures page. 

Notice for former students of Cornerstone Investments (Aust) Pty Ltd trading as Empower Institute (Empower Institute)

If you were enrolled by Empower Institute you may have had your VET FEE-HELP debt removed. For more information go to the Notices of debt removal through the VET FEE-HELP Student Redress Measures page. 

Notice for former students of Careers Australia Education Institute Pty Ltd (Careers)

If you were enrolled by Careers you may have had your VET FEE-HELP debt removed. For more information go to the Notices of debt removal through the VET FEE-HELP Student Redress Measures page. 

Notice for former students of Productivity Partners Pty Ltd (trading as Captain Cook College)

If you were enrolled by Captain Cook College you may have had your VET FEE-HELP debt removed. For more information go to the Notices of debt removal through the VET FEE-HELP Student Redress Measures page. 

Notification to persons enrolled by Cornerstone Investment Aust Pty Ltd (trading as ‘Empower Institute’) from 1 June 2014 to 15 December 2014 

If you were enrolled by Empower Institute you may have had your VET FEE-HELP debt removedFor more information go to the Notices of debt removal through the VET FEE-HELP Student Redress Measures page. 

VET FEE-HELP grandfathering has ended

VET Student Loans commenced on 1 January 2017, replacing the VET FEE-HELP scheme. Some grandfathered VET FEE-HELP students, who accessed VET FEE-HELP before 30 December 2017, and had 'exceptional circumstances' were eligible to extend their VET FEE-HELP assistance during 2018.

Under subparagraph 43(3)(b)(ii) of Schedule 1A to the Higher Education Support Act 2003 an entitlement to access VET FEE-HELP under the exceptional circumstances provisions ceases on 31 December 2018. Grandfathered students will not be able to access VET FEE-HELP assistance to pay tuition fees for units of study with a census date on or after 31 December 2018.

Websites

MySkills

Students can search for courses and course providers, including VET Student Loan Approved courses and providers at MySkills website.

Study Assist

Information for students about government assistance for financing tertiary study is available at Study Assist website.

Frequently Asked Questions

Under the VET FEE-HELP loan scheme, a number of unscrupulous training providers and their agents targeted vulnerable people.

Those targeted were signed up inappropriately to courses which they may not have had the academic capability or means to complete and may not have understood they were receiving a loan from the Commonwealth that needed to be repaid.

Some students were not aware they had signed up to training and were not aware of debts they had incurred.

As a result, the scheme left many students with large debts and in some cases little to no training outcomes.

Anyone who has concerns about a VET FEE-HELP debt they have incurred can make a complaint using the form on the Commonwealth Ombudsman VET Student Loans website.

A VET FEE-HELP Student Redress Measures fact sheet on the new measures is available on the Tools and Resources page of the Commonwealth Ombudsman website.

New VET FEE-HELP Student Redress Measures came into effect from 1 January 2019.

The new measures provide a remedy for students who, due to the inappropriate conduct of their VET provider, incurred debts under the VET FEE-HELP loan scheme.

Affected students should contact the VET Student Loans Ombudsman, which is part of the Office of the Commonwealth Ombudsman, who will assess and investigate your complaints.

If you incurred your debt because of inappropriate behaviour by your provider, the Ombudsman may be able to make recommendations to the Secretary of the Department of Employment, Skills, Family and Small Business to cancel your VET FEE-HELP debts.

Anyone who has concerns about a VET FEE-HELP debt they have incurred can make a complaint using the form on the Commonwealth Ombudsman VET Student Loans website.

A VET FEE-HELP Student Redress Measures fact sheet on the new measures is available on the Tools and Resources page of the Commonwealth Ombudsman website.

The VET Student Loans Ombudsman is assessing and investigating existing complaints to prepare them for recommendation to the Department of Employment, Skills, Family and Small Business from 1 January 2019.

The VET Student Loans Ombudsman contacted students about the process of assessing complaints against VET FEE-HELP providers during 2018 and will continue to provide updates in 2019 on progress.

If you have already contacted the Ombudsman and want an update on your complaint, you can email them at VET@Ombudsman.gov.au and include your Ombudsman reference number.

If you have not contacted the Ombudsman yet, you can make a complaint to them by completing their online form on the Commonwealth Ombudsman VET Student Loans website.

A VET FEE-HELP Student Redress Measures fact sheet on the new measures is available on the Tools and Resources of the Commonwealth Ombudsman website.

If you have received a notification from the VET Student Loans Ombudsman advising you that they have recommended your debt be cancelled, this may be still being processed by the Department of Employment, Skills, Family and Small Business. The Secretary or delegate must still consider the VSLO's recommendation and make a decision. You will be notified once the decision is made.

An estimate of how long it would take to process your debt cancellation was provided in your letter. Please check this date again and, if you are still concerned, please submit an enquiry using the VET FEE-HELP student online enquiry form below.

If you have received a notification from the department about your debts being cancelled then they may be still being processed.

An estimate of how long it could take to process your debt cancellation was provided in your letter. Please check this date.

If after checking this date you still believe the debt cancellation should have already been processed, please submit an enquiry using the online enquiry form below.

If you are unhappy with the decision the delegate of the department makes, you can request a review of the decision by filling out the online form below, making sure you select "Review request" from the drop down menu.

You must say that you are asking for a review of the department's decision and write the reasons why you believe the department's decision is not correct.

The department will re-consider all aspects of the decision and the review could result in a better or worse outcome for you.

If, after requesting a review, you still disagree with the department's decision, you can appeal this decision to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT).

You will need to do this within 28 days of receiving the department's decision on your review. Costs may apply, and you may wish to obtain legal advice. More information is available on the AAT's website.

The eligibility period for grandfathered students accessing VET FEE-HELP under exceptional circumstances ended on 31 December 2018. Grandfathered students can continue studying units into 2019 with access to VET FEE-HELP only if the census date for the unit/s is on or before 31 December 2018. Grandfathered students will not be eligible to access VET FEE-HELP for any unit of study with a census date on or after 1 January 2019.

Students should discuss payment options, including the whether or not they have the ability to transition to a course approved for VET Student Loans, with their provider.

If students have a complaint or grievance about any matter relating to their academic study (e.g. quality of training) or non-academic matters (fees, charges, etc), they should submit their complaint directly to their provider through that provider's formal complaints process. Each provider will have instructions on how to submit a complaint on their website. This includes complaints asking for VET FEE-HELP debts to be remitted. A provider has the ability to remit or cancel a student's VET FEE-HELP debt depending on the nature of the complaint.

If the matter cannot be resolved by this process all providers have a review/appeal process. If you are still not satisfied you can ask that the matter be referred to an independent external arbitrator (mediator), nominated by the provider, for further consideration.

If your complaint is not resolved by your provider you may refer your complaints to the VET Student Loans Ombudsman for investigation.

Complaints Regarding Quality: As the national regulator for VET, the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) is responsible for investigating allegations of issues with the quality of training or student treatment by VET FEE-HELP providers. ASQA uses information from the complaints process to determine how it regulates certain providers. Should you have concerns regarding your experiences, you may wish to submit a formal complaint to ASQA via their website.

When an education institute re-credits your VET FEE-HELP/VET Student Loans balance and remits the debt, the provider must tell the department. Providers submit data to the department monthly. The department will advise the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), which then applies the revision to your tax records. Please note there can be a time lag of some months between when your provider tells the department of the decision to cancel a debt and when the ATO removes it from a student's record.

On confirmation that your provider has submitted a revisions file** to the department, you may wish to contact the ATO area that takes care of HELP debts and advise the ATO that a revisions file has been forwarded to the department in relation to your debt. If you have concerns you can discuss options available to you with the ATO regarding your tax matters.

Contact details for the ATO:

visit the Study and Training Support loans page of the ATO website.

use ATO online services to view loan accounts and other information such as Payment Reference Number (PRN) and voluntary repayment options,

call 13 28 61 for information about your HELP account and personal tax topics,

call 13 36 77 TTY or 1300 555 727 TTY for hearing or speech impaired students, or

write to: Australian Taxation Office PO BOX 1032, ALBURY NSW 2640.

Please note, the ATO will conduct identification checks for your enquiry, so remember to have your Tax File Number handy.

Additional information about repaying your HELP loan is available on the StudyAssist website.

** Due to a retrospective validation process applied to data reported by providers, this may result in the data being revised up to eight weeks after it has been reported. This revised data is then transferred to the Australian Taxation Office .

All approved VET FEE-HELP and VET Student Loans providers must have policies and procedures in place that protect students in the event that their provider closes. These protections are required under the Higher Education Support Act 2003 and VET Student Loans Act 2016.

If a provider closes or ceases delivery of the course, tuition assurance is activated. Tuition Assurance allows students to either continue their studies or in some cases get a refund/debt remission for any incomplete units. Please enquire at VETtuitionassurance@employment.gov.au for more information.

I still need help

If the FAQ's above have not answered your question, you can submit an enquiry using the VET FEE-HELP Student Enquiry Form.