Media Release by The Hon Christian Porter MP

Improving outcomes for students through a stronger student payments system

Driving better employment outcomes for students is the key focus of student payment reforms introduced into Parliament today.

Minister for Social Services, Christian Porter, said changes to the alignment of student welfare payments to Vocational Education and Training (VET) courses were announced in the 2017-18 Budget.

“From 1 January 2018, approval of tertiary VET courses at diploma level and above, for student payment purposes, will be restricted to those tertiary VET courses and education providers that are approved for VET Student Loans,” the Minister said.

“This ensures government support is directed to priority courses which meet industry needs and address skill shortages and which therefore provide greater employment prospects for students,” Minister Porter said.

“By limiting approval of courses to those approved for VET Student Loans, we are supporting students’ employment prospects.

“Courses with limited public benefit, such as the Diploma of Circus Arts, the Diploma of Energy Healing (stream), Advanced Diploma of Holistic Counselling and Flower Essence Therapy, Graduate Diploma of Veterinary Western Herbal Medicine, and Graduate Diploma of Veterinary Acupuncture are not listed for VET Student Loans, and so will not meet the criteria for approval for student payments.

“This builds on the Turnbull Government’s 2016 VET reforms which replaced Labor’s failed VET FEE-HELP loan scheme with VET Student Loans.

Up to 5,000 students will be affected by this change. It does not affect students undertaking secondary school courses or VET courses below diploma level.

The Minister also announced that from 1 January 2018, approval of higher education courses, for student payment purposes, would be restricted to those offered by providers that are approved for the Higher Education Loan Program (HELP).

“This change will ensure better targeting of student income support payments and consistency of Commonwealth support across all higher education courses,” Minister Porter said.

“Unlike the changes for student payments for VET courses, no specific higher education courses will be affected by the HELP measures. Rather, it is the status of the course provider that determines eligibility.

“It’s estimated that up to 2,000 students will be affected by this change.”

The Minister said both these changes affect recipients of Youth Allowance (student), Austudy, ABSTUDY and Pensioner Education Supplement.

Students who currently receive payments and are studying with a provider that is no longer approved, or for the VET measure are undertaking a course that is not approved from January 2018, will continue to receive their payment for the duration of their course, provided there is no break in entitlement.

Students who commence studying in 2018 with a non-approved HELP provider or a non-approved VET course, will not be eligible for student payments. This includes students already approved for a student payment, but who don’t commence their study until 2018.

The two measures are expected to save $258 million over the next four years.