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Education and training 

What you need to know before signing up for a course

Every year, NSW Fair Trading receives complaints from students about fees, refunds, misleading information and course quality for training and education.

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.

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.

Essential checks

Before committing to qualifications or courses, do these essential checks:

1. Check the training provider is registered

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:

2. Check the training provider is approved to offer VET Student Loans

To apply for a VET Student Loan to pay for the course, check the training provider is approved to offer loans. For details, go to the list of approved VET providers at

Also check the requirements for loan fees, interest and paying back the loan. For details check the VET Student Loans information booklet at

3. Shop around

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

4. Be wary if approached to enrol in a course

These tips will help you make informed decisions and avoid marketing pressure tactics and unscrupulous practices:

  • Never sign up 'on the spot' (when someone stops you in a shopping centre or on the street, emails you, calls you up or knocks on your door). The exception is if you have done your research and are certain the course is right for you.
  • Don’t feel pressured by "limited time only" prices. If they want your business they will often do you a good deal later.
  • Don’t be fooled by claims that a course is "free" or "government funded". Training is not usually free. If you provide your tax file number you could end up thousands of dollars in debt via a VET Student Loan, and will have to repay the loan when your income reaches a certain level.
  • Don’t be fooled by deals, such as "free" or bonus incentives like cash, laptops or tablets, which are built into your course fees or loan. Training providers and marketers are banned from offering students incentives to sign up to courses funded by VET Student Loans.
    If you see this occuring. lodge a complaint via the VET Student Loans compliance complaints page at
  • Don't get scammed. Only give out your personal details, including your tax file number, if you are confident you want to enrol. Be sure the person is an authorised representative of an approved training provider. Ask for identification.
  • Never provide the training provider with your usernames or passwords from government agencies, such as the Department of Human Services, Centrelink or myGov.
  • If you were approached and signed up on the spot, don’t pay anything until the end of the cooling-off period (10 business days).
  • Try contacting other training providers who may offer the same qualification for a cheaper price, and may still offer VET student loans.

5. Make sure the course meets your learning, career and financial needs

Before entering into a contract, discuss your learning and career needs with the training provider or marketer:

  • Ask how the course will meet what you want from the course and your career goals, and discuss any personal circumstances that might affect your ability to study.
  • Ask about the total cost, including additional costs for textbooks or other course materials, and the method of payment.
  • Ask about any protections offered by the RTO for amounts you pay to them, particularly if you are paying more than $1,500 upfront.
  • Ask for cooling-off periods, census dates for cancelling VET Student Loans, cancellation and refund terms and conditions to be provided in writing.
  • Always get copies of the paperwork you sign and the contact details of the marketer and the training provider so that you can ask further questions or cancel the course.

6. Read the training contract carefully

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.  

Cancelling VET course enrolments

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 Student Loan), you can do the following:

  • Cancel (in writing or by email) without any penalty within the 10 business day cooling-off period under the Australian Consumer Law
  • Lodge a complaint with Fair Trading if the training provider refuses to acknowledge the cancellation within the cooling-off period.

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):

  • information about your cooling-off rights or
  • a copy of your contract.

In other situations where you want to cancel your course and did not apply for a VET Student 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.

Cancelling VET Student Loans

If you were signed up to a VET student 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 Student Loan for subjects you have not successfully completed after the census date.

How to cancel your course and your VET Student Loan after the census date:

  • You must first apply to your training provider.
  • If your application is refused, apply to them again in writing requesting they review their decision. 
  • If you get no response within 45 days, or if they uphold their decision to refuse cancelling the VET Student Loan, contact the VET Student Loans Ombudsman on 1300 362 072 or fill out their online form at
  • If your training provider is no longer trading, contact the VET Student Loans Ombudsman or you can apply to the Secretary of the Commonwealth Department of Education and Training on 1300 566 046.
  • If you believe a marketer or recruiter has misled you into signing up for a VET Student Loan, and the census date has passed, your should still write to your training provider to outline what happened and any outcome you are seeking. Your training provider may voluntarily cancel your enrolment and VET Student Loan debt.

For more information about the VET Student Loans program administered by the Commonwealth Department of Education (including how to apply to have a loan cancelled), visit the website or call 1800 020 108. 

Check if you are in debt

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 Student Loan debt. The ATO will ask for your tax file number before disclosing any personal information. The ATO manages VET Student Loan debts, which are repaid through the tax system.


  • If you, or someone you know, has an issue or complaint regarding your VET FEE-HELP or VET Student Loans training provider or loan, contact the VET Student Loans Ombudsman on 1300 362 072.
  • If you have a problem with your VET provider 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 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
  • If you have other questions and concerns about your VET provider or course, you can also contact the National Training Complaints Hotline on 13 38 73 or by following the email complaint process for the Hotline at

Tips for overseas students

  • If you are an overseas student you must check the organisation you wish to study with if they are registered to deliver training to overseas students, and is listed on the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS) at
  • If your eudcation provider has not deliver 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
  • You cannot transfer to another education provider before completing the first six months of your principal course, without a release letter from your provider. Check your written agreement to see what your provider's policy says about transferring to another provider as well as fees and refunds.
  • If you are dissatisfied with a decision or action taken by your provider, you can lodge an internal complaint or appeal with them directly.
  • 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.
  • If this does not resolve the problem with your private school, college or university, the Overseas Students Ombudsman may be able to help. Contact the Ombudsman on 1300 362 072 or at 
  • For any questions about your visa please contact the Department of Immigration and Border Protection on 13 18 81 or visit

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