Consumers across Australia, particularly in regional and low-income communities, have seen a surge in door-to-door sales offering vocational training courses from private colleges.
If you have been targeted we want to hear from you.
Spruikers (often from the same companies that were engaged in Energy D2D sales) have been known to enrol students in courses that can cost up to $25,000. But because the courses are backed by the Government loans scheme, VET FEE-HELP, so they are marketed as “buy now, pay later” or even free! Low income consumers are targets as repayment doesn’t commence until an income threshold is reached, yet the debt remains and the taxpayer pays.
Consumer Action formally raised concerns about the marketing practices of private training providers and brokers in our recent submission to the Senate Inquiry into private vocational education and training providers in Australia, after receiving a significant number of complaints about the issue.
But in good news for consumers, things are changing. This week the Assistant Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham announced that he is evaluating an enrolment system to stop these colleges from enroling consumers on-the-spot.
While last month, the Federal Government announced measures will include a ban on training providers from offering inducements for enrolments, such as cash, meals, prizes and laptops. Training providers will also be required to conduct tougher assessments of students’ educational capabilities and be prevented from levying all course fees in a single transaction up front.
This is critical for consumers. High-pressure sales techniques are often used to convince consumers to enrol. Research has shown that in-home sales use psychological techniques make it very difficult for a consumer to say ‘no’ to the salesperson.[i]
Education is a life decision, not something that can be made on the door-step. Earlier this year, we exposed that only 7 per cent[ii] of students studying a VET FEE-HELP loan course online completed their studies between 2010 and 2013. The marketing practices of private colleges, including door-to-door sales have left thousands of would-be students with a big debt and nothing to show for it.
To contact Consumer Action Law Centre about your experience with Private Colleges and door-to-door sales, please contact Mick Bellairs 03 8554 6915 or firstname.lastname@example.org
[i] For more information about the problems of in-home and door-to-door sales see: http://consumeraction.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Coercion-and-Harassment-at-the-Door-Energy-Marketing-in-Victoria.pdf and https://shuttingthegates.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/shuttingthegates_full-report.pdf