Federal member for Cowper and Minister for Vocational Education and Skills Luke Hartsuyker.
Federal member for Cowper and Minister for Vocational Education and Skills Luke Hartsuyker. Trevor Veale

Education scandal on MP’s radar

MEMBER for Cowper Luke Hartsuyker has faced his first major challenge in his newly appointed role as Minister for Vocational Education and Skills.

An investigation by the Federal Government and ACCC has been launched against education-provider Phoenix Institute which is accused of false, misleading and unconscionable conduct.

The college this year received $106 million from the Federal Government to provide courses, which in many cases it allegedly didn't provide, while in other cases allegedly signed students up to online diplomas costing $18,000, even though some did not even have access to the internet.

ACCC chairman Rod Sims said Phoenix Institute was one of the bigger targets for its investigation into nine or 10 vocational colleges.

Mr Hartsuyker yesterday announced VET legislation before the Senate would be amended to ensure safeguards were in place.

"We are freezing the current scheme at 2015 levels for existing VET fee-help providers and the next measure is more stringent entry requirements for new providers," he said.

"We will also be making payments quarterly rather than in advance and, where there is concern over activities of a provider, we will be pausing payments."

Despite allegations occurring within the term of the current government, Mr Hartsuyker said responsibility lay with the previous Labor Government.

"I've been tasked with cleaning up the VET fee-help system we inherited from Labor that didn't have the necessary safeguards in place to protect students and taxpayers," he said.



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