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Part 4—Approved course providers
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Part 4 Approved course providers

Division 1 Approving course providers

24   Meaning of approved course provider

                   A body approved by the Secretary under this Division is an approved course provider .

25   Secretary may approve a body

             (1)  The Secretary may approve a body as an approved course provider if the Secretary is satisfied that the body meets the course provider requirements.

             (2)  To meet the course provider requirements the body must:

                     (a)  be a body corporate that is not a trustee; and

                     (b)  be established under the law of the Commonwealth, a State or a Territory; and

                     (c)  carry on business in Australia and have its central management and control in Australia; and

                     (d)  be a registered training organisation; and

                     (e)  meet the provider suitability requirements; and

                      (f)  be a fit and proper person; and

                     (g)  be a party to an approved tuition assurance arrangement; and

                     (h)  be a member of an approved external dispute resolution scheme.

             (3)  The Secretary may, in writing, exempt a body from either or both of the following:

                     (a)  the requirement in paragraph (2)(g) to be a party to an approved tuition assurance arrangement;

                     (b)  the requirement in paragraph (2)(h) to be a member of an approved external dispute resolution scheme.

             (4)  An exemption under subsection (3) is subject to such conditions as are specified in the exemption.

26   Provider suitability requirements

             (1)  The rules may set out provider suitability requirements for the purposes of ensuring that loan amounts are paid to suitable course providers.

             (2)  The provider suitability requirements may deal with the following in relation to a course provider:

                     (a)  financial performance;

                     (b)  management and governance;

                     (c)  experience in providing vocational education;

                     (d)  scope of courses;

                     (e)  fees » and modes of delivery for courses;

                      (f)  student outcomes;

                     (g)  industry links.

             (3)  Subsection (2) does not limit the provider suitability requirements.

27   Listed course providers may be taken to meet requirements

             (1)  The rules may provide for a listed course provider to be taken to meet one or more course provider requirements.

             (2)  Each of the following is a listed course provider as long as it is a registered training organisation:

                     (a)  a Table A provider;

                     (b)  a Table B provider;

                     (c)  a body established to provide vocational education or training under one of the following:

                              (i)  the Technical and Further Education Commission Act 1990 (NSW);

                             (ii)  the Education and Training Reform Act 2006 (Vic.);

                            (iii)  the TAFE Queensland Act 2013 (Qld);

                            (iv)  the Vocational Education and Training Act 1996 (WA);

                             (v)  the TAFE SA Act 2012 (SA);

                            (vi)  the Training and Workforce Development Act 2013 (Tas.);

                           (vii)  the Canberra Institute of Technology Act 1987 (ACT);

                     (d)  a training organisation owned by the Commonwealth, a State or a Territory;

                     (e)  a body specified in the rules.

28   Application for approval

             (1)  A body may apply to the Secretary for approval as an approved course provider.

             (2)  The application must be:

                     (a)  in the form approved by the Secretary; and

                     (b)  accompanied by the application fee for the application.

             (3)  The Secretary may:

                     (a)  request the applicant to provide further information for the purposes of deciding the application; and

                     (b)  require some or all of the further information to be provided as a statutory declaration.

             (4)  The rules may set out requirements in relation to applying for approval.

29   Period of approval

             (1)  Approval as an approved course provider has effect for the period specified in the approval.

             (2)  The period must not be more than 7 years.

             (3)  This section has effect subject to section 33.

30   Decisions about approval

             (1)  This section applies if:

                     (a)  a body applies to the Secretary for approval as an approved course provider; and

                     (b)  the Secretary considers and decides the application.

Note:          The Secretary is not required to consider or decide an application for approval as an approved course provider: see section 32.

             (2)  The Secretary must give written notice of the decision to the body.

             (3)  The notice must:

                     (a)  be given in accordance with any requirements set out in the rules; and

                     (b)  if the Secretary decides to approve the body for a period of less than 7 years—include the reasons for the period being less than 7 years.

31   « Fees » for applications

             (1)  The Secretary may, by legislative instrument, prescribe « fees » , or a method of working out « fees » , for making applications for approval as an approved course provider.

             (2)  A fee for making an application for approval as an approved course provider must not be such as to amount to taxation.

32   When Secretary is not required to consider application

             (1)  The Secretary is not required to consider or decide an application for approval as an approved course provider:

                     (a)  if the application does not comply with section 28; or

                     (b)  in circumstances set out in the rules.

             (2)  If the Secretary does not consider or decide an application, the Secretary must:

                     (a)  give the applicant written notice of, and reasons for, not so considering or deciding; and

                     (b)  refund any application fee for the application.

             (3)  The notice must be given within 30 days after the application is made, otherwise the Secretary must consider and decide the application.

33   Period of approval extends to cover decision on re-approval

             (1)  This section applies if:

                     (a)  a body is approved (the current approval ) as an approved course provider; and

                     (b)  the body applies for approval as an approved course provider for a further period; and

                     (c)  the application is made before the beginning of:

                              (i)  the period of 90 days before the current approval ends; or

                             (ii)  such shorter period as the Secretary allows.

             (2)  The provider’s current approval continues in effect until the application is decided.

Division 2 Conditions of approval

34   Secretary may impose conditions

             (1)  The Secretary may, at any time:

                     (a)  impose conditions on the approval of an approved course provider; or

                     (b)  vary a condition of the approval.

             (2)  The conditions may include the following:

                     (a)  that one or more provider fee limits apply to the provider;

                     (b)  that loan amounts will be paid to the provider for specified approved courses only;

                     (c)  that an approved course provided by the provider will:

                              (i)  be delivered in a particular way; or

                             (ii)  address particular content or skills.

             (3)  A provider fee limit is a limit on loan amounts that can be paid to a provider:

                     (a)  for a particular period; or

                     (b)  for a particular approved course; or

                     (c)  for a particular approved course for a particular period.

             (4)  Subsection (2) does not limit the conditions the Secretary may impose on the approval.

             (5)  The Secretary must give the provider written notice of, and written reasons for:

                     (a)  imposing a condition on the approval; or

                     (b)  varying a condition of the approval.

             (6)  The rules may set out requirements in relation to giving such notice and reasons.

Division 3 Revoking and suspending approvals

35   Automatic revocation on winding up

                   If an approved course provider is wound up, the approval of the body is revoked when the winding up commences.

Note:          Commence , in relation to winding up, has the same meaning as in the « Corporations » Act 2001 : see section 6.

36   Secretary may revoke or suspend approval

             (1)  The Secretary may revoke or suspend the approval of an approved course provider if the Secretary is satisfied that the provider is not complying with this Act.

             (2)  Before revoking or suspending the approval, the Secretary must give the provider written notice (the intention notice ) of the following:

                     (a)  that the Secretary is proposing to revoke or suspend the approval;

                     (b)  the reasons why the Secretary is proposing to revoke or suspend the approval;

                     (c)  that the provider may make written submissions to the Secretary as to why the Secretary should not revoke or suspend the approval;

                     (d)  that the written submissions must be given to the Secretary within the period (the submission period ):

                              (i)  for proposed suspension—that ends 14 days after the intention notice is given; or

                             (ii)  for proposed revocation—that ends 28 days after the intention notice is given.

             (3)  The Secretary must consider any submissions given by the provider within the submission period.

             (4)  The Secretary must give the provider written notice (the decision notice ) of:

                     (a)  the Secretary’s decision on the suspension or revocation; and

                     (b)  the reasons for the decision.

The decision notice must be given within 28 days after the end of the submission period.

             (5)  If the Secretary revokes or suspends the approval, the revocation or suspension takes effect on the day specified in the decision notice, which must not be a day before the decision is made.

             (6)  A decision to suspend or revoke is not invalid merely because the Secretary failed to give the decision notice within the time required under subsection (4).

Note:          The Secretary may publish information about compliance action that has been taken under this Act: see section 103.

37   Immediate suspension in certain circumstances

             (1)  The Secretary may suspend the approval of an approved course provider (without giving the provider an intention notice under section 36) if:

                     (a)  the Secretary suspects on reasonable grounds that the provider is not complying with this Act; and

                     (b)  the Secretary is satisfied that the circumstances require urgent action.

             (2)  The Secretary must give the provider written notice of:

                     (a)  the suspension; and

                     (b)  the reasons for the suspension; and

                     (c)  the effect of subsection (4).

             (3)  The suspension begins at the time specified in the notice, which must not be before the notice is given.

             (4)  Unless subsection (5) or (6) applies, the suspension ends when one of the following happens:

                     (a)  the Secretary notifies the provider in writing that the suspension has ended;

                     (b)  14 days have passed since the suspension began.

             (5)  If, within 14 days after the suspension began, the Secretary gives the provider an intention notice under section 36, the suspension ends when the Secretary gives the provider the decision notice under that section.

             (6)  If, within 14 days after the suspension began, the Secretary requires the provider to be audited under section 45, the suspension ends:

                     (a)  unless paragraph (b) applies—14 days after the Secretary receives the report on the audit; or

                     (b)  if, within that 14 days, the Secretary gives the provider an intention notice under section 36—when the Secretary gives the provider the decision notice under that section.

Note:          The Secretary may publish information about compliance action that has been taken under this Act: see section 103.

38   Secretary must revoke approval on provider request

                   If an approved course provider makes a written request to the Secretary for the approval of the provider to be revoked, the Secretary must:

                     (a)  revoke the approval; and

                     (b)  give the provider written notice of the revocation.

39   Secretary to notify relevant VET Regulator if approval is revoked or suspended

                   If the approval of an approved course provider is revoked or suspended, the Secretary must give the relevant VET Regulator notice in writing of the revocation or suspension.

Division 4 Tuition assurance

40   Tuition assurance arrangements

             (1)  A tuition assurance arrangement is an arrangement between a course provider and another person (the tuition assurance scheme operator ) under which the tuition assurance scheme operator is to do certain things if a course provider ceases to provide a course at any time after it starts but before it is completed.

             (2)  The arrangement is an approved tuition assurance arrangement if:

                     (a)  the arrangement meets any requirements set out in the rules; and

                     (b)  under the arrangement, the tuition assurance scheme operator must:

                              (i)  provide for students whose tuition « fees » are covered by a VET student loan to be able to finish the course, or an equivalent course; or

                             (ii)  repay a student’s tuition « fees » if the « fees » were paid using a VET student loan and it is impractical for the student to finish the course, or an equivalent course.

             (3)  To the extent to which the student’s tuition « fees » were paid using the VET student loan, the « fees » must be repaid to the Commonwealth under subparagraph (2)(b)(ii).

41   Secretary may require tuition assurance scheme operator to act

             (1)  This section applies if:

                     (a)  an approved tuition assurance arrangement applies (or applied) in relation to a student for a course; and

                     (b)  the Secretary is satisfied the provider ceased to provide the course after it started but before it was completed.

             (2)  The Secretary may require the tuition assurance scheme operator to:

                     (a)  provide for students whose tuition « fees » are covered by a VET student loan to be able to finish the course, or an equivalent course; or

                     (b)  repay a student’s tuition « fees » if the « fees were paid using a VET student loan and it is impractical for the student to finish the course, or an equivalent course.

             (3)  A tuition assurance scheme operator must comply with a requirement under subsection (2).

42   Other requirements for tuition assurance scheme operators

             (1)  The rules may set out requirements that must be met by a tuition assurance scheme operator who is, or was, a party to a tuition assurance arrangement with an approved course provider.

             (2)  The requirements may include one or more of the following:

                     (a)  to provide to the Secretary specified information in relation to the tuition assurance arrangement;

                     (b)  to provide to the Secretary information in relation to the financial viability of the operator;

                     (c)  to provide specified information or assistance to students covered by the arrangement.

             (3)  Subsection (2) does not limit the requirements that may be set out under subsection (1).



 

Division 4A External dispute resolution

42A   Minister may specify external dispute resolution scheme

             (1)  The Minister may, by legislative instrument, specify a scheme that provides for investigation and resolution of disputes relating to the following:

                     (a)  VET student loans;

                     (b)  compliance by approved course providers with this Act;

                     (c)  VET FEE-HELP assistance (within the meaning of the Higher Education Support Act 2003 );

                     (d)  compliance by VET providers (within the meaning of the Higher Education Support Act 2003 ) with the Higher Education Support Act 2003 .

             (2)  The Minister must specify the operator of the scheme in the legislative instrument.

Note:          The rules may provide for matters that the Minister may or must have regard to in deciding to specify a scheme: see subsection 116(3).

42B   Meaning of approved external dispute resolution scheme

                   A scheme is an approved external dispute resolution scheme if the scheme:

                     (a)  provides for investigation and resolution of disputes as mentioned in section 42A; and

                     (b)  is specified in a legislative instrument made under section 42A; and

                     (c)  is operated by the person (the approved external dispute resolution scheme operator ) specified in the legislative instrument.

42C   Approved course provider must comply

                   An approved course provider must comply with the requirements of the approved external dispute resolution scheme of which the provider is a member.

Note:          The rules may set out additional processes and procedures in relation to external dispute resolution: see section 48.

 

Division 5 Ensuring compliance

43   Compliance notices

             (1)  This section applies if the Secretary:

                     (a)  is satisfied that an approved course provider is not complying with this Act; or

                     (b)  is aware of information that suggests that an approved course provider may not be complying with this Act.

             (2)  The Secretary may give the provider a compliance notice.

             (3)  The compliance notice must:

                     (a)  set out the name of the provider to which the notice is given; and

                     (b)  set out brief details of the non-compliance or possible non-compliance; and

                     (c)  specify action that the provider must take, or refrain from taking, in order to address the non-compliance or possible non-compliance; and

                     (d)  specify a reasonable period within which the provider must take, or refrain from taking, the specified action; and

                     (e)  if the Secretary considers it appropriate—specify a reasonable period within which the provider must provide the Secretary with evidence that the provider has taken, or refrained from taking, the specified action; and

                      (f)  state that a failure to comply with the notice is subject to a civil penalty and may also lead to the provider’s approval being suspended or revoked; and

                     (g)  set out any other matters specified in the rules for the purposes of this paragraph.

             (4)  An approved course provider contravenes this subsection if the provider fails to comply with a compliance notice.

Civil penalty:          60 penalty units.

             (5)  To avoid doubt, the Secretary is not required to give an approved course provider a compliance notice before suspending or revoking the provider’s approval.

44   Varying and revoking compliance notices

             (1)  The Secretary may, by written notice given to an approved course provider, vary or revoke a compliance notice if the Secretary considers that taking such action is in the public interest.

Note:          A variation could, for example, specify different action to be taken by the provider or a different period for complying with the notice.

             (2)  In deciding whether to vary or revoke a compliance notice, the Secretary must consider any submissions that are received from the provider before the end of the period mentioned in paragraph 43(3)(d).

45   Compliance audits

             (1)  The Secretary may require an approved course provider to be audited.

             (2)  The audit (the compliance audit ) must be for the purposes of determining either or both of the following:

                     (a)  whether the provider is complying with this Act;

                     (b)  whether one or more students enrolled by the provider are genuine students.

             (3)  The audit must be conducted:

                     (a)  by:

                              (i)  the National VET Regulator; or

                             (ii)  an auditor approved in writing by the Secretary; and

                     (b)  at such time or times, and in such manner, as the Secretary requires.

             (4)  The auditor may require any person to provide the auditor with all reasonable facilities and assistance for the purposes of the audit.

             (5)  A person contravenes this subsection if the person fails to cooperate fully with the auditor in relation to a compliance audit.

Civil penalty:          60 penalty units.

46   Approved course provider must cooperate

                   An approved course provider contravenes this section if the provider fails to cooperate fully with any of the following in ensuring compliance with, and the efficient and effective administration of, this Act:

                     (a)  a VET Regulator;

                     (b)  the Secretary;

                     (c)  an APS employee in the Department;

                     (d)  a consultant engaged by the Commonwealth to perform work in relation to this Act;

                     (e)  the operator of the approved external dispute resolution scheme of which the provider is a member.

 

Civil penalty:          60 penalty units.