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Monday, 11 November 2019
Page: 3469

Senator DUNIAM (TasmaniaAssistant Minister for Forestry and Fisheries and Assistant Minister for Regional Tourism) (16:33): I move:

That these bills be now read a second time.

I seek leave to have the second reading speeches incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The speeches read as follows—


Today I am introducing a package of Bills to reform tuition protection. This includes the Education Legislation Amendment (Tuition Protection and Other Measures) Bill 2019, which will establish strong and sustainable tuition protections for domestic students accessing a VET Student Loan, a FEE-HELP loan or HECS-HELP loan with a private education provider or TAFE.

To achieve this, I am intending to expand the successful Tuition Protection Service (TPS) for international students, to also protect this cohort of domestic students who are accessing Government loans.

These tuition protections will ensure students are supported if their education or training provider stops teaching or closes entirely. Students protected under these new arrangements will be assisted to complete their studies in a similar course with another provider and gain a qualification, or may have their loan removed for the parts of their study they have commenced but were not able to complete.

It makes sense to expand the TPS model to domestic students accessing Government loans. Since its inception in 2012, the TPS has proven to be successful for students and providers, and contributes to the strong reputation of Australia's international education sector.

The Bill also provides from 1 January 2020, the new tuition protection arrangements will:

be administered by a statutory appointed Director. The same Director will manage the VET Student Loans, HELP Loans and TPS tuition protection arrangements;

require all non-exempt approved providers to contribute annual levies commensurate with their size and risk. The levy system ensures the new arrangements are sustainable and can respond to sector trends;

establish two new special accounts, one each for the VSL providers and the Higher Education HELP providers, to avoid any risk of cross-subsidisation between the different student and provider streams. The special accounts will be managed by the Director to administer the arrangements and support displaced students;

ensure there are strict requirements for providers who cease delivering a course, or close, to ensure these providers put the interests of students first;

enable payments to be made in connection to tuition protections and allow the rules and guidelines to prescribe circumstances for which payments can be made. These rules or guidelines can enable an incentive payment that will benefit providers who take on displaced students. This will enable financial support to be given to these replacement providers for taking on these displaced students;

The peak bodies who represent the sector have publicly supported the new arrangements. The positive feedback, particularly in relation to the support of governance structures and the new incentive payment to replacement providers, indicates the new arrangements will be welcomed by the sectors.

Students, providers, and the training and education sectors can be confident the new tuition protection arrangements will support students, and replacement providers. This is all part of Government's ongoing commitment to safeguard the integrity and reputation of its income contingent loan programs.

I commend the Bill.


I am also introducing the VET Student Loans (VSL Tuition Protection Levy) Bill 2019 as part of Government's package to implement sustainable tuition protection arrangements from 1 January 2020 for students accessing a VET Student Loan, a FEE-HELP loan or HECS-HELP loan with a private education provider or TAFE.

The levy framework in the Bill, has been developed by the Australian Government Actuary and is broadly consistent with the levy structure used by the Tuition Protection Service (TPS) for international students. The TPS is a proven success for students, the taxpayer and the sector and is financially sound.

The Bill imposes a levy on non-exempt providers. The levy has three components - an administrative component, determined by legislative instrument by the Minister, a risk rated premium, and special tuition protection components, which the VSL Tuition Protection Director sets by legislative instrument. The Treasurer is required to approve the legislative instrument made by the VSL Tuition Protection Director.

The strong governance arrangements of the TPS, and flexibility in the levy framework, will ensure the levies settings can respond to any emerging trends in the vocational training sector. This is essential as it will reward providers when the sector is stable, but also protect the sustainability of the model for Government and the taxpayer.

This is why I introduce this Bill today.


Finally, I am also introducing the Higher Education Support (HELP Tuition Protection Levy ) Bill 2019 which forms the final piece of this Government's package to protect students, the taxpayer and the training and higher education sectors in the event of a provider closure.

The levy framework reflected in this Bill was also developed by the Australian Government Actuary, drawing on the experience of the successful Tuition Protection Service for international students. The levies will apply to private and TAFE higher education providers offering HELP loans.

This Bill will equally ensure the sustainability of the new model for Government, further enhance the already strong reputation of the higher education sector and benefit those providers who assist displaced students.

I commend the Bill.

Debate adjourned.