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Education and training 

What you need to know before signing up for a course

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.

Essential checks

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

1. 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 NSW government subsidised courses at

Check for other training courses and providers that may be suitable for your career path.

2. 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

3. Check the training provider is approved to offer loans

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

Also check the requirements for loan fees, interest and paying back the loan. For details go to the VET FEE-HELP information booklet 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 FEE-HELP 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. From 1 April 2015 training providers and marketers are banned from offering students incentives to sign up courses funded by VET FEE-HELP loans. 
  • 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 FEE-HELP 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 FEE-HELP 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 and cancelling VET FEE-HELP loans

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 FEE-HELP 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 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.

Cancelling VET FEE-HELP loans

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:

You need to complete the formal withdrawal process for every unit you want to withdraw from, including any units for future study periods. If the course you want to withdraw from involved enrolling in more than one provider, you will need to withdraw from each provider separately. While each provider will have their own policies about withdrawing, the main points are:

  • you must withdraw in writing on your provider’s official form;
  • you must submit this form in time for it to be delivered and processed by the census date;
  • you may need to withdraw online – check with the student administration area of your provider; and
  • you should keep a copy of your withdrawal documentation as confirmation that you completed the correct procedure.

For more 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 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 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 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 by phone on 13 38 73 or by email at

Tips for overseas students

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

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 566 046 or complete the online enquiry form from the contacts page at

You cannot transfer to another course or training organisation until you have completed 6 months of your principal course (the main course of study you are under) 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 

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