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Do Your Homework When Choosing A Training Course

Delia Rickard
15th December, 2015

Thinking about the next phase in your career or looking to improve your skills in the New Year? Before you sign up for a vocational education and training (VET) course, make sure you to understand exactly what you are committing to, what it will cost and what the course will deliver. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has published new advice to help consumers understand their rights before signing up to a training course. A bit of homework can help avoid a large, unexpected debt.

Shop around

There’s plenty of training options out there. VET providers include technical and further education (TAFE) institutes, adult and community education providers and agricultural colleges, as well as private providers, community organisations, industry skill centres, and commercial and enterprise training providers. In addition, some universities and schools provide VET. We recommend shopping around to find the course that suits you best. Don’t sign up ‘on the spot’ for a training course if someone approaches you. Take your time and don’t feel pressured by ‘limited time only’ prices. Don’t give out your personal details, such as your tax file number, unless you have done all the checks and decided to enrol.

Beware of ‘Free’ offers

When looking for a training course, don’t be swayed by offers of ‘free’ items such as mobile tablets or laptops or even cash payments. Your course costs may be higher than the cost of the ‘free item’ or the promised payment. Take extra care to explore any claims that the course is ‘free’ or ‘Government funded’ – A VET FEE –HELP loan is a real debt that impacts on your credit and must be repaid when your income reaches a certain level.

Find out as much as you can

  • You can search for a training course on the My Skills website www.myskills.gov.au, which was set up by the Federal Department of Education and Training
  • Find out if you need to have any work experience, previous study or other prerequisites in order to take the course
  • Check with the National Register on Vocational Education and Training (VET) at www.training.gov.au to see if the training provider is registered to provide the course
  • Ask about the total cost of the course, methods of payment and cancellation or cooling off periods
  • Check if the training provider is approved to offer VET FEE-HELP student loans at www.studyassist.gov.au
  • Check requirements for loan fees, interest and paying back the loan
  • Read the contract carefully, checking for cancellation fees and conditions
  • Ask about cooling-off periods (called ‘census dates’ for VET FEE-HELP courses), cancellations and refunds.

To lodge a complaint about the course quality or conduct of a registered training provider contact the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) on 1300 701 801 or at www.asqa.gov.au

Training providers are required to comply with the Australian Consumer Law and must not mislead you about the goods or services they supply. To lodge a complaint about your consumer rights, contact the ACCC or your local consumer protection agency.

Delia Rickard
Deputy Chair
Australian Competition and Consumer Commision

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