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Thursday, 19 November 2009
Page: 12258


Mr MARLES (Parliamentary Secretary for Innovation and Industry) (1:54 PM) —in reply—The Higher Education Support Amendment (VET FEE-HELP and Tertiary Admission Centres) Bill 2009 amends the Higher Education Support Act 2003, as part of the Australian government’s extension of the VET FEE-HELP assistance scheme to provide more students with assistance from 1 July 2009. This scheme provides financial assistance to students to ensure those wanting to study diploma and above qualifications in the vocational education and training sector are able to make real choices about their training without the burden of paying upfront fees. The scheme assists these students by giving them access to a loan for all or part of their tuition costs. In the context of the government’s commitment to increasing Australia’s skill levels and COAG’s target to double the number of diploma and advanced diploma completions by 2020, the government has extended VET FEE-HELP to provide more students with access to financial assistance. As part of that extension, eligible state government subsidised students will have a reduced VET FEE-HELP debt. This bill implements these changes for all eligible students from 1 July 2009, ensuring no eligible students are disadvantaged.

In addition, the bill includes technical amendments to ensure that tertiary admissions centres are able to perform certain functions in relation to personal information on behalf of both higher education and VET providers. This will ensure that all student information shared between the department, universities, VET providers and tertiary admission centres is protected by the appropriate privacy safeguards. These measures are part of the government’s commitment to ensuring that higher education and VET providers continue to play a leading role in equipping Australians with the knowledge and skills to make Australia a more productive and prosperous nation. I commend this bill to the House.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.