How did the VET FEE-HELP scheme go so wrong?


It's the public policy disaster that's believed to have cost taxpayers $7.5 billion. So how did we get here and who do we send angry tweets to?

The VET-FEE HELP system basically saw the government cover upfront costs for students going into vocational training - both public and private.

Because the government was prepared to give money directly to private colleges based on the number of student enrolments, private colleges embarked on an aggressive recruitment drive without seeming to care who would, or could, complete the course. Some students apparently didn’t even know they were enrolled until they were asked to start paying back the debt.

It’s believed the whole mess has cost taxpayers around $7.5 billion. In 2016 the government got around $13.2 million in refunds from the colleges - wiping out around 1,500 debts. While in late 2017, the government admitted it expects at least $2 billion of that will never be repaid.

Now the government says it’s got a tougher, better-regulated system: ‘VET Student Loans’, with stricter vetting of providers and caps of loans, depending on the type of course you do. Plus, there are rumblings out of Canberra that the government might agree to scrap the remainder of the contested debt.

However, if polls are anything to go by, it might be Labor who is in a position to forgive the debt when the next financial year rolls around."


Jan Fran and Michael Hing spoke to Labor Senator Doug Cameron.