VSL Provider Newsletter – April 2023

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Minor update to the VET Student Loans (Courses and Loan Caps) Determination

The Hon Brendan O’Connor MP, Minister for Skills and Training, recently agreed to a minor update to the VSL (Courses and Loan Caps) Determination 2016. One course (10930NAT) has been added to Schedule 1 of the Determination. The other changes are of a technical nature and do not have any impact on the way the Determination operates. The amendments came into effect on 12 April 2023 and will be available on the Federal Register of Legislation in due course.

Further information, including what you need to do to offer these courses using a VET Student Loan, and how to apply new loan cap bands, can be found on Information for VET Student Loans Approved Providers.

Nominations for the 2023 Australian Training Awards are now open

The Australian Training Awards are the largest national awards recognising the nation’s VET sector. Individuals, businesses and registered training organisations can nominate directly for the following categories:

  • Outstanding Achievement in the VET and Skills Sector Award
  • Innovation in VET Award
  • Australian Apprenticeships Employer Award
  • School Pathways to VET Award
  • Excellence in Language, Literacy and Numeracy Practice Award.

Finalists from these categories will join state and territory training award winners to compete for a national award title at the Australian Training Awards gala event in Hobart in November.

Nominating for the Australian Training Awards is an opportunity to be recognised for your organisation’s achievements and increase your organisation’s profile nationally.

All award finalists, including businesses and registered training organisations, are invited to join the exclusive Australian VET Alumni. The Alumni are a community of high achieving VET graduates, leaders and practitioners, businesses, schools and training providers committed to sharing their story of success in the sector.

Nominations close on 31 May 2023 and winners from all categories will be announced in November 2023.

Students can continue to apply for the Tertiary Access Payment

The Tertiary Access Payment (TAP) helps eligible students with the costs of moving for study. Students who move from inner regional areas get a one-off lump sum of $3,000. Students who move from outer regional and remote areas get up to $5,000 in 2 instalments.

To be eligible for the TAP students must:

  • be from an inner regional, outer regional, remote, or very remote area as defined by the Australian Statistical Geography Standard - Remoteness Area classification
  • be undertaking a qualifying tertiary education course in the year following completion of Year 12 or equivalent level of education
  • have relocated to study at an education provider or Regional University Centre located at least 90 minutes by public transport from their family home
  • be enrolled in an eligible Certificate IV or above qualification, with a minimum course duration of one academic year
  • be enrolled in at least 75 per cent of their course’s normal full-time study load or an approved concessional study load
  • show that parent(s) or guardian(s) have a combined income of $250,000 or below in the relevant tax year or be exempt from providing parental income and
  • meet Australian citizenship or residency requirements

Students can get the TAP at the same time as other student payments, such as Youth Allowance, ABSTUDY or the Relocation Scholarship.

You can assist by encouraging eligible students to claim this payment using their myGov account (linked to Centrelink). If requested, provide your students with a dated document confirming their study load and course enrolment. To pay eligible students the TAP, Services Australia will require this information 42 days after their course commencement date. More information is available at Tertiary Access Payment - Services Australia.

Accurate, timely and complete reporting

We thank the providers who do the right thing by reporting their complete data accurately and on-time. However, we continue to observe a large proportion of providers repeatedly reporting incomplete and late student data across the VSL program. This includes data reporting which is missing important fields, post-activity adjustments to previously reported data and reporting well after the training activity has occurred.

Reporting incomplete, late or inaccurate data is not acceptable practice. We are undertaking a targeted review to identify providers who regularly report data late or adjust data and those providers who are not reporting all required data fields in a timely fashion. Inaccurate data reporting results in payments not being approved and eventually invalidates payments. Failure to comply with VSL obligations may also give rise to a civil penalty provision and strict liability offence.

Reporting student data that is missing critical fields can also impact students receiving timely loans into their ATO account. As we review the accuracy, completeness and timeliness of reported data, and the IT systems that support the VSL program, we will soon cease to approve payments to providers where all required data has not been reported. If you wish to receive payments for your VSL students, you must report your data correctly. Further advice will be provided before the changes to stop payments where data is incomplete, are introduced.

In the last 3 months (December, January, February payment periods), 42 providers reported 6,398 Units of Study (UoS) where the census day was more than 100 days before the effective date of the payment calculation. This late reporting affected 967 students in this short period with these UoS valued at just over $17 million. Many providers report late data consistently every month.

In this same 3-month period we saw 46 providers report increases to 419 previously reported and paid UoS. This affected 133 students with some students receiving increases of more than $3,000 against a single UoS. As with late reporting, many providers are increasing previously reported data each month, with some adjustments reported years after the training activity occurred.

The impact of late reporting on students is that they do not receive correct loans into their ATO account at the time of their training, prompting them to enquire from the department, the ATO or directly with their provider due to the confusion this causes.

Adjusting previously reported UoS can also be confusing for students as they see their loan increase unexpectedly at the ATO. For some students who have already repaid their loan, receiving notification of further loan debts for ‘repaid’ UoS can be alarming and prompt them to contact the department, the ATO or their provider to confirm the validity of the adjusted loan amounts.

The consequences of this for providers is that it calls into question the administrative practices of the provider, why they did not report the data correctly or on time in the first place, and whether the increases are legitimate and align with student’s Statements and Notices.

VSL Tuition Protection Levy

The Tuition Protection Service (TPS) is a tuition assurance scheme for international and eligible domestic students supported by the Australian Government. All VSL providers contribute an annual VSL Tuition Protection Levy (VSL levy) which funds the student placement and loan re-credit activities of the TPS for domestic VSL students. The VSL Levy was charged for the first time in 2022.

Information about the VSL levy, and how it is calculated, can be found at:

  • tps.gov.au
  • VET Student Loans (VSL Tuition Protection Levy) Act 2020

Consultation on the 2023 VSL Levy

Draft settings for the 2023 VSL Levy were provided to the TPS Director by the VSL Tuition Protection Fund Advisory Board in late March. Consultations on the draft levy settings will be held online and in person throughout April and May with VSL providers and other sector stakeholders. You will be notified about methods to participate in sessions to provide feedback ahead of the levy settings being finalised and legislated.

Expressions of Interest: Impact of VSL Levy on courses with practical components

In 2022, sector consultation feedback from VSL providers in the Aviation and Nursing fields indicated that open units impacted on those providers’ completion rate risk scores in the VSL levy calculation. In investigating this matter, the TPS is interested in hearing from VSL providers delivering courses that include units with mandatory practical components to determine whether this issue is present in other fields, and whether it may have been a temporary challenge of the COVID-19 period, in which practical components of courses could not be completed due to lockdowns and other health restrictions.

The TPS can be contacted via operations@tps.gov.au.

Reminder - use of middle name field in eCAF

On 1 January 2023, the enrolment form in the eCAF system was updated to include a middle name field. We remind providers that you must use the middle name field (where applicable) and not enter middle names in the first name field, otherwise USI verification may fail.

This change affected all VSL and Higher Education eCAF templates, making them consistent with TCSI and USI office systems. The change also decreased the maximum name length for each of the 3 name fields to 40 characters per field (a combined total of 120 characters).

If you use the upload function for enrolments, you can download the updated spreadsheet template by clicking on the ‘Upload enrolment data’ button.

Random Student Check Survey

Between 25 November and 19 December 2022, the department commissioned ORIMA Research, to conduct the Random Student Check (RSC) Survey. The survey was completed by 2,309 VET Student Loan recipient students. The RSC asked approximately 38 questions ranging from participating student’s satisfaction with their provider and the services provided to their understanding of the amount of their respective VET Student Loan and the requirements to pay this back.

Approximately 78 per cent of students who completed the survey indicated, they were satisfied or very satisfied with how the provider responded to questions they had about the course. Approximately 78 per cent indicated, overall, they were satisfied or very satisfied with the training provided.

However, some students (17 per cent) indicated they did not recall receiving a VET Student Loans Fee Notice for the most recent unit/s of study they were undertaking with the provider and 11 per cent of students were not aware of their census date for their most recent unit/s of study with their provider.

You are reminded of the requirements to publish census dates on your website and to send a VET Student Loans Fee Notice to students at least 14 days before the census day so the student has all the information needed to make their study and payment decisions.

Further information about publishing requirements and VET Student Loans Fee Notices can be found in the VET Student Loans Manual for Providers which includes link to the VET Student Loans legislation.

VSL provider websites

Please ensure that VSL related content on your websites is up to date. This includes the name of the department, the titles of and links to VSL resources and any VSL resources you may have duplicated on your website.

Subscribing to the VSL Provider Newsletter

Do you know someone who would like to subscribe to the VSL Provider Newsletter? The newsletter is how we let you know about program updates and reminders about the program administrative requirements. Let your colleagues know they can subscribe to the newsletter at VET Student Loans – subscribe.