Labor will make the Government’s VET Student Loans changes fairer by moving amendments in the Senate to protect students and TAFE.


The amendments respond to issues raised in the Senate Inquiry into the Bills and would mean students who enrol under the current scheme won’t have to lose access to loans at the end of 2017.


TAFE would also be exempt from course restrictions and loan caps for one year, providing some certainty at a time when the Liberals are refusing to commit to continuing federal TAFE funding past the middle of next year.


“In their last-minute rush to make these changes, the Government has forgotten about students and TAFE,” Shadow Minister for TAFE and Vocational Education, Kate Ellis, said.


“Students who are ‘grandfathered’ under the VET FEE-HELP scheme will lose access to loans at the end of 2017 – even if they get sick, study part-time or are enrolled in a course that goes for more than 12 months. That’s not fair.


“Despite not being part of the problem, the Government is treating public TAFE with the same heavy hand as dodgy private providers. Instead, TAFE should be given the support it needs to rebuild.


“The reality is that TAFE makes up only about 15 per cent of student loans, has lower fees and receives one twentieth of the complaints levelled at private providers.


“Labor wants to make sure students and TAFE are the top priority.”


These amendments are in addition to those moved by Labor in the House to establish a VET ombudsman, and improve transparency and accountability – measures that have since been supported by the Government.