New statistics released today highlight the success of the Turnbull Government’s measures to rein in cost blowouts in the final years of the disastrous VET FEE-HELP scheme.
Assistant Minister for Vocational Education and Skills Karen Andrews said the National Centre for Vocational Education and Research’s (NCVER) Australian vocational education and training statistics: Financial Information 2016 report revealed a drop in Australian Government spending on VET FEE-HELP for the first time since 2012.
“A $1.31 billion (or 53.3 per cent) reduction in VET FEE-HELP payments to non-Government providers was responsible for a 27.3 per cent decrease in Australian Government spending on vocational education and training (VET) in 2016,” Minister Andrews said.
“The figures show the effectiveness of the steps taken by the Government in 2015, and again in 2016, to curb unsustainable growth, address unscrupulous behaviour, and protect students and taxpayers.
“We were able to stop the haemorrhaging in VET FEE-HELP before ultimately scrapping the scheme for the more affordable, sustainable and student-focussed VET Student Loans on 1 January this year.”
Minister Andrews said that while non-Government provider VET FEE-HELP spending dropped significantly, recurrent Australian Government funding increased to a record high level in the Financial Information report, at $2.2 billion in 2016.
“This is without including large amounts of Australian Government funding, such as apprenticeship incentives, which were not captured in this report,” Minister Andrews said.
Minister Andrews said the skilling of Australians remained a high priority for the Government.
“That’s why we have introduced the new and ongoing Skilling Australians Fund to reflect our commitment to increasing the number of apprentices and trainees for future workforce needs,” Minister Andrews said.
“It’s disappointing that while Commonwealth funding to the states for skills was growing at record levels, state and territory spending decreased by 12.8 per cent – $424.7 million – in 2016.
“This further decline in expenditure is evidence of the need for the requirement in the new Skilling Australians Fund that the States and Territories do not reduce their funding commitment for skills.
“With the support of the States and Territories, the Fund will have the capacity to support up to 300,000 more apprenticeships, traineeships, pre-apprenticeships and traineeships, and higher-level apprenticeships.”