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Student Review Policy for Re-Crediting a FEE-HELP Balance for a VET Student Loan Enabled Course

Purpose              

This policy provides the framework and mechanisms for TrainSmart Australia to assess applications to re-credit a student’s FEE-HELP balance after the census date in a VET Student Loans enabled course. 

Objectives

The object of this policy is to provide clear guidelines on how students who have nominated to have their tuition fees paid under VET Student Loans may apply to have any VET Student Loan debt re-credited in accordance with Part 6 of the VET Student Loans Act.

Procedure

TrainSmart Australia will conduct this procedure in compliance with the VET Student Loans Act 2016.

TrainSmart Australia will:

  • set a census date for each VET unit of study that is no earlier than 20% of the way through the VET unit of study;
  • ensure that all students are informed of the census date for each VET unit of study in the manner prescribed in the VET Student Loans Rules and VET Student Loans Act 2016;
  • ensure that all students are informed of the review procedures for the re-crediting of a FEE-HELP balance.

A student who withdraws from a VET unit of study in line with the withdrawal procedure of TrainSmart Australia on or before the published census date for that VET unit of study will not incur a VET Student Loan debt for that VET unit of study.

A student who withdraws from a VET unit of study/course of study in line with the withdrawal procedure of TrainSmart Australia on or before the published census date is entitled to a full refund of their VET tuition fees attached the VET unit of study/Course from which they are withdrawing, if the tuition fees have been paid up front.

A student who withdraws from a VET unit of study after the published census date for that unit of study will incur a VET Student Loan debt for that unit of study.

 

Special circumstances

If a student withdraws from a VET unit of study after the census date for that VET unit of study, or has been unable to successfully complete a VET unit of study and believes this was due to special circumstances, the student may apply to have their FEE-HELP balance re-credited for the affected VET units of study as outlined in section 68 of the VET Student Loans Act. The application for the re-credit of fees must be made to TrainSmart Australia within 12 months after the census day for the course, or the part of the course, concerned, or within that period as extended by TrainSmart Australia.

TrainSmart Australia will re-credit the student’s FEE-HELP balance if it is satisfied that special circumstances apply which:

  • are beyond the student’s control; and
  • did not make their full impact on the student until on or after the census date for the unit(s) of study in question; and
  • make it impracticable for the student to complete the requirements for the unit(s) of study in question.

TrainSmart Australia will be satisfied that a student’s circumstances are beyond the student’s control if a situation occurs that a reasonable person would consider is not due to the person’s action or inaction, either direct or indirect, and for which the student is not responsible. The situation must be unusual, uncommon or abnormal.

Each application will be examined and determined on its merits by considering a student’s claim together with independent supporting documentation substantiating the claim. Initial applications for the re-crediting of a student’s FEE-HELP balance are to be made by calling the TrainSmart Australia on the contacts as below:

 

Perth:     RTO Training Manager                                         (08) 9265 9600     abaker@tsa.edu.au

Sydney:  Registered Training Organisation Manager     (02) 9410 1880      iismail@tsa.edu.au

 

The procedure for the re-crediting of a FEE-HELP balance is as follows:

a) a student must communicate in writing to TrainSmart Australia their intention to withdraw from a VET unit of study. TrainSmart Australia shall confirm the withdrawal by giving notice to the student in writing of the date at which the withdrawal has taken effect and the VET Tuition Fees that have been incurred;

b) a student applying for a FEE-HELP recredit under special circumstances must do so in writing to the RTO Training Manager. The written application must also include supporting documentation that demonstrates that the requirements for special circumstances have been met.

c) the RTO Training Manager will consider the application and will agree to such requests if they are satisfied that there were special circumstances in the student’s case;

d) if the application is successful, TrainSmart Australia will re-credit the student’s VET Student Loans balance with an amount equal to the amounts of assistance that the student has received for the affected VET units of study and the student’s VET Student Loan debt for those VET units of study will be removed;

e) the RTO Training Manager shall advise the student of the outcome of the application within 28 days stating the reasons for the decision;

f) the RTO Training Manager shall also advise the student of their rights for a review of the decision if they are not satisfied with its outcome and that a request for such a review must be lodged within 28 days from the day of receipt of the decision, unless the RTO Training Manager allows a longer period.

 

Review of a decision

If a student is not satisfied with the decision made by the RTO Training Manager in relation to re-crediting their FEE-HELP balance they may request a review of the decision.  The review shall be carried out by a Review Officer who is the senior manager to the original decision maker.

Any such request must be submitted to the Review Officer in writing and:

  • must be lodged within 28 days of receiving notice of the original decision, unless the Review Officer allows a longer period;
  • must specify the reasons for making the request and include any supporting documentation;

 

To initiate the process, please call TrainSmart Australia on the contact below:

Sydney:            Chief Executive Officer          (02) 9410 1880       dmehta@tsa.edu.au

Perth:               Managing Director                 (08) 9265 9600       srandhawa@tsa.edu.au

 

The Review Officer shall acknowledge receipt of an application for a review of the refusal to re-credit a FEE-HELP balance in writing and inform the applicant that if the Review Officer has not advised the applicant of a decision within 45 days of having received the application for review, the Review Officer is taken to have confirmed the original decision. This notice shall also advise the applicant of the next stage of escalation.

The Review Officer shall:

a) be provided with all relevant information from the person who made the original decision;

b) review the case within 3 weeks and advise the student of the decision in writing giving the reasons for the reviewer’s decision.

 

The Review Officer may:

a) confirm the decision;

b) vary the decision; or

c) set the decision aside and substitute a new decision.

 

The Review Officer will give written notice of the decision setting out the reasons for the decision.

Where a student is unsatisfied with the reviewed decision they may lodge an appeal with the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) within 28 days from this written notice from the Review Officer.

 

 

The contact details for the AAT are:

Administrative Appeals Tribunal

Level 5, 111 St George’s Terrace

Perth WA  6000

Telephone: (08) 9327 7200

Email: perth.registry@aat.gov.au

Or

Level 6, 83 Clarence Street,

Sydney NSW 2000

Telephone 1800 228 333

 

The Secretary of the Australian Government Department of Education and Training (DET), or the Secretary’s delegate, will be the respondent for cases that are brought before the AAT. Upon DET’s receipt of a notification from the AAT, DET will notify TrainSmart Australia that an appeal has been lodged. Upon receipt of this notification from DET, the Review Officer will provide DET with copies of all the documents they hold that are relevant to the appeal within five (5) business days.

Applications for re crediting by the Secretary, under section 71 of the Act must be made within 5 years after the census day for the course, or the part of the course, concerned, or within that period as extended by the Secretary.

Under section 71 of the VET Student Loans Act, a student may apply to the Secretary for a re-credit of a FEE-HELP balance if; TrainSmart Australia, or a person acting on behalf of TrainSmart Australia, engaged in unacceptable conduct in relation to a student’s application for the VET Student Loan; or, if TrainSmart Australia has failed to comply with the Act or an instrument under the Act and the failure has adversely affected the student.

The Secretary may re-credit a student’s FEE HELP balance in relation to special circumstances if TrainSmart Australia:

  • is unable to act or is being wound up or has been dissolved; or
  • has failed to act and the Secretary is satisfied that the failure is unreasonable.

 

Definitions

AAT – Administrative Appeals Tribunal

Census Date – The last day a student may withdraw from a VET Unit of Study in which they are enrolled without incurring a liability for tuition fees or a VET Student Loans debt.

DET – (Australian Government) Department of Education and Training

VET Course of Study – a structured program consisting of a number of units of study that lead to the award of a VET Diploma or above qualification.

VET Unit of Study – a published unit of study that forms part of a VET Course of Study.

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