THE federal government says it is willing to consider a wide-scale audit of training providers to weed out rorting of the $1.6 billion VET FEE-HELP loans scheme with inflated course fees.
It comes as evidence emerges of massive pricing discrepancies between fee-for-service and VET FEE-HELP courses being offered by a number of registered training organisations (RTOs), with taxpayers forking out up to 400 per cent premiums to line the pockets of training companies with government loans, many of which will never be repaid.
The deregulation of the VET FEE-HELP scheme has led to a massive increase in for-profit, private education providers and an industry-wide decline in quality.
According to the Education Department, just over one quarter (26 per cent) of students who enrolled in VET FEE-HELP courses in 2011 finished within three years. Completion rates for online diplomas were abysmal, with just seven per cent of students completing their course.
The government bill for VET FEE-HELP loans blew out by $315 million last year to $1.615 billion, representing 189,000 students at 254 training providers.