Training providers around Australia offer many different courses in a wide variety of fields of study.
Before you sign up
Signing up to a training course is a big commitment, and there are a number of things you should think about before you do.
Check the training provider is registered
Make sure the training provider is a registered training organisation (RTO).
RTOs are registered by the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) as providers of quality-assured and nationally recognised training and qualifications.
Make sure your RTO is allowed to deliver the course you want to do.
Check the training provider can offer loans
You might need a loan to help you pay for your training course.
Loans are available from the Australian Government’s VET Student Loans scheme.
Only approved training providers can offer VET Student Loans. Make sure your provider is approved.
Look around for the training provider and course that best suits your needs.
Compare prices, fees, course length, course content and likely job opportunities.
Be wary of unsolicited offers
You should be wary of any offers of ‘free’ or ‘Government-funded’ courses. Training is not free.
You will still need to pay for the training course, even if you are not paying much up-front. If you are asked for your tax file number, you are likely being signed up to a VET Student Loan, which you will have to pay off when your income reaches a certain level.
If the offer is unsolicited – it might be from a door-to-door salesperson or telemarketer, or you might be approached in a shopping centre – you have extra rights if you sign up, including a 10 business day cooling-off period.
Marketers might tell you there are limited places available, but don’t feel pressured into signing up on the spot. Always take time to consider the offer and do your own research.
Be wary of offers of ‘free’ gifts, such as laptops or textbooks. Make sure that you’re not paying for the ‘gifts’ in your course fees. From 1 April 2015, marketers and training providers are banned from offering these types of inducements.
We recommend you don’t give out your personal details unless you intend to sign up. Ask for identification so you can be sure the person you are dealing with is an authorised representative of the training provider.
Never give a training provider your usernames or passwords for government services like Centrelink or myGov.
Choose a course that meets your needs
Before signing up, make sure the course meets your learning, career and financial needs.
You should discuss the following with the training provider:
- What you want to get out of the course, and how the course will meet your expectations.
- Any personal circumstances that will affect your ability to study.
- The total cost, including additional costs for textbooks and course materials, and methods of payment.
- Any protections offered by the training provider for amounts you pay them, particularly if you are paying more than $1500 up-front. What happens to your pre-payment if the training provider has to close down? What happens if the course does not go ahead due to lack of enrolments?
- Get important information in writing, including cancellation and refund terms and conditions.
Always get copies of any paperwork you sign.
Keep the contact details of anyone you deal with including the marketer and representatives from the training provider.
Read the contract carefully
Before you sign, read the whole contract carefully. If you don’t understand any part of it, ask the training provider to explain it.
If you are approached door-to-door, in a shopping centre or over the phone, tell the salesperson that you need a chance to read the contract before you sign up.
Pay particular attention to terms and conditions about refunds. If you sign up for a training course, and then change your mind or have a change in personal circumstances, you will usually still have to pay for the entire course.
Get a copy of the training provider’s student handbook.
Cancelling your enrolment
If you were approached by a door-to-door salesperson or telemarketer, you have a 10 business day cooling-off period. You can cancel during this time without penalty. If the training provider refuses to acknowledge your cancellation, you should make a complaint to us.
If the door-to-door salesperson or telemarketer didn’t tell you about your cooling-off period rights or give you a copy of your contract, you can cancel within 6 months without penalty.
If you signed up in any other way (such as by phoning or visiting the training provider’s website yourself), you need to check the cancellation terms and conditions in your contract.
If you also signed up for a VET Student Loan, you can cancel before the ‘census’ date to avoid a debt.
If you need to cancel after the census date, you will only be able to avoid a debt if there are exceptional circumstances (such as a medical condition). Talk to your training provider about your options.
Check if you have a FEE-HELP debt
The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) manages the repayment of training course loan debts.
You will need to contact the ATO and provide your tax file number to find out whether you have a training course loan debt.
You should first try to resolve your complaint directly with your training provider. If you can’t, there are a number of agencies in the VET sector who you can make an official complaint to.
Make a complaint to ASQA if your complaint is about:
- the quality of training and assessment
- being misled by a marketer or training provider about the nature or quality of the course
- proof of training qualifications
- the accuracy or accessibility of information about an RTO, its services and performance
- what an RTO has told you (or not told you) about the services you are to receive
- the complaint handling process of an RTO.
Make a complaint to us if your complaint is about:
- a refund for course or enrolment fees
- being misled about how much a course costs or how you could pay for it
- promised gifts or other inducements not being given to you, or being charged for them after being told they were free
- the approach made to you by a door-to-door salesperson, telemarketer or salesperson in a shopping centre.
Make a complaint to the Queensland Training Ombudsman if your complaint is about:
- your rights and responsibilities within the Queensland VET system
- an RTO
- an apprenticeship or traineeship dispute.
Make a complaint to the VET Student Loans Ombudsman (VSLO) if your complaint is about:
- having a VET FEE-HELP or VET Student Loan debt you don’t believe you should have
- being treated unfairly by a provider offering VET FEE-HELP or VET Student Loans
- signing up to a VET fee course with an RTO who has been identified as engaging in unlawful conduct related to your recruitment.