Training may cost tens of thousands of dollars with no refund available if you make a bad choice or change your mind during the course.
Every year, NSW Fair Trading receives complaints from students about fees, refunds, misleading information and course quality for training and education.
Don’t sign up for a training course until you research the qualifications, providers, costs and payment options that best suit you and your career plans. Australia has a national system of accrediting vocational education and training (VET) qualifications and courses. Only registered training organisations can deliver nationally recognised qualifications and accredited courses.
Before committing to qualifications or courses, do these essential checks:
For vocational education and training, check that the training provider is allowed to offer the course in NSW. Make sure the training provider is a registered training organisation (RTO) and that the course you want to do is listed under the scope of training they are authorised to provide (visit training.gov.au/Search/SearchOrganisation).
To apply for a VET FEE-HELP student loan to pay for the course, check the training provider is approved to offer the loans. For details go to the ‘Approved VET providers' page at studyassist.gov.au
Also check the requirements for loan fees, interest and paying back the loan. For details go to the VET FEE-HELP information booklet at studyassist.gov.au
To find the course best suited for your needs, compare prices, fees, content and length of the courses and job opportunities after completing the course. Start by checking your eligibility for government subsidised courses at www.smartandskilled.nsw.gov.au
These tips will help you make informed decisions and avoid marketing pressure tactics and unscrupulous practices:
Before entering into a contract, discuss your learning and career needs with the training provider or marketer:
Before you sign, read the training contract carefully and check your cooling-off rights, which include the cancellation and refund conditions in case you change your mind. Ask for the student handbook, which should have information about the training organisation’s grievance and appeals policy or formal complaint process.
If there is anything you don't understand, ask the marketer and the training provider. Also, ask to speak to someone who has done the course. You may also seek help from someone you trust or from your local community organisations.
If you were approached by a training provider or a marketer, signed up on the spot and are required to pay for the course (that is, you did not apply for a VET FEE-HELP loan), you can do the following:
You may be eligible to cancel the course within 6 months, if the training provider or marketer failed to provide (at the time you signed up, or within 5 business days if you agreed to enrol by phone):
In other situations where you want to cancel your course and did not apply for a VET FEE-HELP loan, check the terms and conditions of the contract.
Keep copies of emails and other correspondence you send and receive regarding your request to cancel your enrolment in case you need to take further action.
If you were signed up to a VET FEE-HELP loan to pay for the course you can cancel your enrolment before the census date to avoid a debt.
In special circumstances beyond your control (such as significant medical issues) you can request cancellation of your course and your VET FEE-HELP loan for subjects you have not successfully completed after the census date.
How to cancel your course and your VET FEE-HELP loan after the census date:
For information about the VET FEE-HELP student loans scheme administered by the Commonwealth Department of Education (including how to apply to have a loan cancelled), visit the www.studyassist.gov.au website or call 1800 020 108.
Contact the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) on 13 28 61 if you have provided your tax file number to a training provider and are worried you might have an unexpected VET FEE-HELP debt. The ATO will ask for your tax file number before disclosing any personal information. The ATO manages VET FEE-HELP debts, which are repaid through the tax system.
If you have a problem with your VET provider or course about the delivery of training, assessment, marketing and student information, or receiving proof of national qualifications obtained, try to resolve it with the training provider first. If you are unsuccessful, lodge a complaint with the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) at www.asqa.gov.au/complaints/complaints.html or call 1300 701 801. ASQA will use information provided in complaints to regulate VET providers but does not provide a dispute resolution or advocacy service.
If you are seeking a refund of the course or enrolment fees, or need help with your consumer rights under the Australian Consumer Law, including misleading and deceptive conduct, call Fair Trading on 13 32 20 or lodge a complaint online at www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au
If you have other questions and concerns about your VET provider or course, you can also contact the national training complaints hotline by phone on 13 38 73 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are from overseas and have a student visa you must check the organisation you wish to study with is registered to deliver training to overseas students and is listed on the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS) at cricos.deewr.gov.au
If you can prove the training organisation has not provided the course you are enrolled in, you may be entitled to a full refund. Contact the Education Services for Overseas Student (ESOS) Helpline on 1300 615 262 or complete the online enquiry form from the contacts page at www.internationaleducation.gov.au
You cannot transfer to another course or training organisation without first receiving a written offer from your provider. If you do not agree with the offer and wish to transfer to another course or training organisation, you are entitled to a full refund. If you have any concerns regarding these matters, contact the ESOS helpline.
If you are attending a self-accrediting university, for example the University of Sydney, you should contact the International Students Office of your university for any concerns or enquiries.
For any questions about your visa please contact the Department of Immigration and Border Protection on 13 18 81 or visit www.immi.gov.au