The Commonwealth Government has backed Queensland and agreed that vocational education and training (VET) students should be treated equally to university students
Minister for Training and Skills Development Shannon Fentiman has been advocating for reforms to VET student loans and has today gained the support of Commonwealth and all other states and territories at the COAG Skills Council meeting in Brisbane.
“Removing barriers for Queenslanders to be able to access TAFE and training has been a key priority for the Palaszczuk Government,” Ms Fentiman said.
“It is fitting that COAG agreed to review the VET student loan system as a matter of urgency whilst meeting here in Brisbane, given how hard the we have been pushing to remove the cost barrier that leaves VET students at a financial disadvantage compared to university students.
“This has now become critical as VET students face a much more uncertain and often more expensive pathway to gain their qualification at a time when we desperately need more young people to build a skilled workforce.
“The COAG Skills Council commitment to reviewing the VET student loans as a matter of urgency is a step in the right direction toward a level playing field for VET students.
“We have 900,000 VET students in Queensland and half of the nation’s school-based apprentices and trainees.
“University students have access to low interest loans without a loan fee, while the comparable loan for a TAFE student is only available to a very limited number of qualifications and students pay an additional 20 per cent loan fee that is added to the debt.
“Many students also face an up-front gap payment before they even start studying.
“High cost is one factor that is driving more young people towards university. Another contributing factor is the misguided view that university is the only pathway to a rewarding career.”
“With more jobs in more industries coming to our state, it’s important young Queenslanders have access to affordable skills training.”
“The Palaszczuk Government is already cutting costs for VET students through our free tafe for year 12 graduates, free apprenticeships for under 21s and Skills Boost programs.
“These reforms are what we need to ensure we can grow our skilled workforce and fill the jobs of the future.”
The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Skills Council was established by COAG to develop and implement high-level policies that will assist Australian industry to be competitive and motivated to create jobs and investment.
Link to communique of COAG Skills Council meeting:
Minister for Employment and Small Business and Minister for Training and Skills Development
The Honourable Shannon Fentiman