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Wednesday, 2 December 2015
Page: 9568

Senator BIRMINGHAM (South AustraliaMinister for Education and Training) (09:54): Providers seeking to rort the system will, if you look at the collective amendments that are proposed, run the risk of finding that their provision and ability to enrol more students could be withdrawn at any time, based on ministerial discretion, as a result of the pause in payment provisions being applied. Providers may wish to contemplate how to rort the system further, if they are of that nature, but there are serious consequences for them.

The greatest problem we have had in this scheme is not, necessarily, that legitimate students have been signed up at too high a price in relation to their cost—and it is legitimate students who a provider incurs a cost to teach, because those students are engaged in the teaching and learning process. The primary problem we have faced is that students with little or no intention, and little or no likelihood of ever engaging in the teaching, learning and training process, have been signed up.

That is the practice, overall, that the government's changes through the course of this year have sought to stamp out. I make that point because if those students are not seeking to undertake training or otherwise they come out at relatively low per-person cost to the training provider. The need or incentive to try to sign up fewer people at greater price, for profit motivation—if that is the argument you are making—is not really where the prime problem has tended to be. The prime problem has been a willingness to sign up people with no intention or likelihood of undertaking the study, regardless of the price, knowing the cost of teaching those people is negligible because they are never going to turn up to anything.