Exercise care when signing on for courses

Tom ChapmanThe Kimberley Echo
Carly Pergoliti studies for her TAFE course online while homeschooling her children Ethan, 6, and Alyssa, 4.
Camera IconCarly Pergoliti studies for her TAFE course online while homeschooling her children Ethan, 6, and Alyssa, 4. Credit: Jacinta Cantatore/Harvey-Waroona Reporter

Job losses have been an unfortunate consequence of the COVID-19pandemic, but with things now looking brighter, some people are taking steps to upgrade their skills or learn a new trade altogether.

Committing to study and signing up to student debt are big decisions, therefore we are urging prospective students to only use a nationally recognised and accredited private college or TAFE.

On May 26 the Federal Government announced its Job Maker plan, which aims to reform the vocational education training sector to provide Australians with more opportunities to find work.

While this is good news, it’s important lessons are learned from the issues encountered with the earlier VET FEE-HELP loan system, under which the government covered upfront costs for students going into vocational training.

Alleged inappropriate behaviour by some providers saw many students left with debts after being signed-up to courses over the phone, door-to-door and at shopping centres.

Some were unaware they were going to incur a student loan for thousands of dollars, as they were told the courses were free or they did not have to pay for the course.

Many of these folk later found out that they had signed up for a course they did not want to do or were unable to complete, which left them with a huge student loan debt.

Registering for study should be a hassle free experience, so be wary of door-to-door sales folk trying to pressure you to sign up for a course.

If you do not wish to deal with uninvited door-to-door sellers, you should display a Do Not Knock sticker on your front door or near the doorbell.

There are hundreds of training providers around the country who offer courses online, on campus or as a mixture of both.

A search for registered training providers can be carried out on the Federal Government’s My Skills website www.myskills.gov.au.

To check on student debt visit your MyGov account. To apply for VET student loans, or to make an inquiry or complaint, visit the Commonwealth Ombudsman website — www.ombudsman.gov.au.

Tom Chapman is the senior regional manager for Consumer Protection in the Kimberley.

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