The Phoenix Institute, owned by the Australian Careers Network (ACN), has reportedly received legal advice that it could seek $300 million in course fees from its nearly 24,000 students.
This comes after the recent revelation that the company may not receive the remuneration it was promised by the government’s VET Fee-Help program.
Taking the political route, Vocational Education Minister, Scott Ryan, declared in diplomatic outrage that he would, “aggressively defend the interests of students and taxpayers.” He was also quoted expressing his disapproval of ACN, “It is unacceptable to threaten students because of compliance and probity actions undertaken by the commonwealth.”
And Senator Ryan has a point. The Phoenix Institute’s 24,000 students had been told, like all Australian students using the VET Fee-Help loan scheme, that their education would be covered and need only start paying their loans back after attaining an income of $55,000 per year.
Ian Oliver, CEO of National Training, states that there are two forces working against students and potential students right now: both the RTOs that are charging between $15,000 and $20,000 for their programs and the VET Fee-Help loan scheme itself.
“The VET Fee-Help program continues to unravel. They’re selling ‘study now, pay later,’ but that may not be the case. What [students] thought they were entering into might come back and bite [them]. That’s effectively what’s happening here.”
But Oliver gets right to the root of the cause, bluntly explaining that, “fundamentally, diplomas shouldn’t cost $20,000. These companies should be charging what it costs to run the program, which really should never be more than $3,000 per student for online study.”
And so, again, students who have registered and enrolled with the Vet Fee-Help loan scheme are getting railroaded by grossly inflated prices from private companies, as well as the backpedaling of loans from the government.
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