VSL Providers Tuition Protection Service

The Tuition Protection Service (TPS) assists VET Student Loans (VSL) students whose education providers are unable to fully deliver their course of study.

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The TPS protects VET Student Loans (VSL) students when their provider defaults. That is, the provider closes, fails to start a course or stops offering a course to eligible students. The TPS helps VSL students to:

  • continue their studies with a replacement provider in an equivalent or similar course; or
  • if a suitable course is not available, receive a loan re-credit for parts of the course commenced but unable to be completed because of the provider’s default.

The TPS is sector funded. Providers contribute an annual TPS levy.  VSL providers are covered by the TPS. There is no need to register for the TPS. While most universities, TAFEs and Government funded providers are TPS-exempt providers, this does not prevent them from enrolling affected students as replacement providers.

Providers who expect they may be at risk of defaulting in the near future are encouraged to contact the TPS as early as possible at operations@tps.gov.au.

Ongoing provider requirements

The VET Student Loans Act 2016 and VET Student Loans Rules 2016 set out requirements for VSL providers. It’s important that providers fulfill their provider reporting requirements, which includes:

  • Data reported in the Tertiary Collection of Student Information (TCSI) – LINK
  • Students’ unique student identifier (USI)
  • Records of unit completions and course completions.

In addition, it’s important to maintain the following information in the event of a default:

  • Student contact details
  • Unit of competency to unit of study mapping.

The VSL Provider Manual guides providers on how to meet all the VET Student Loans program requirements.

Levies

All non-exempt VSL providers are required to pay an annual VSL TPS levy.

The VET Student Loans Tuition Protection Fund

Funds collected through the TPS levy are paid into the VET Student Loans Tuition Protection Fund. It will be used for funding the placement and re-credit activity for VSL students and is managed by the TPS Director. The amount of the levy is the sum of the following components:

  1. Administrative fee component (determined by the Minister)
  2. Risk rated premium component (determined by the TPS Director)
  3. Special tuition protection component (determined by the TPS Director)

Levy amounts

Administrative fee

The Minister sets the administrative fee component each year.

Risk rated premium and special tuition protection components

The TPS Advisory Board released its draft advice for the 2021 VSL Tuition Protection Levy to the TPS Director.

Risk factors

The risk factors determined by the TPS Director are intended to reflect the risk of default. They are:

  1. Financial strength
  2. Completion rate
  3. Non-compliance history and registration renewal

Special tuition component

By 1 August each year, the TPS Director must, by legislative instrument, specify a percentage for that year.

Defaults

A default occurs when a provider closes, fails to start, or stops offering a course or unit of study. Please contact the TPS immediately if are at risk of defaulting. We will help guide you through your next steps.

Reporting the default

Providers are required to notify their students and the TPS Director in writing within 24 hours of the default occurring. There are also other reporting and notice requirements providers must fulfill. Please refer to the VET Student Loans Provider Default Obligation pages when completing these steps.

Obligations if a provider defaults

If a provider defaults, the provider is required to notify the TPS Director of the circumstances of the default within 24 hours.

The provider must also notify students within 24 hours, alerting them to:

  • the name of the course or parts of the course in default
  • the date of the default
  • a link to www.dese.gov.au/tps

Within 3 days the provider must provide the TPS Director with additional information. See  VET Student Loans Provider Default Obligations for more information.

Please note that if the TPS Director is unable find a suitable replacement course and therefore the student needs a loan re-credit, the defaulting provider will have a debt to the Commonwealth.

Helping students in a default situation

Providers are encouraged to be transparent and upfront in their communications with their students, ensuring students are aware of the assistance available to them.

If possible, the TPS encourages providers to keep any online portals live, and available for students to access so they can print copies of assignments, assessments, and results, which may assist them in moving to a replacement provider. Providers are also encouraged to update their websites to reflect the default information and to direct students to the TPS.

It is important that records, including student contact details, unit /course status and other data reported in the Tertiary Collection of Student Information (TCSI) are accurate and up to date. This information will help determine a student’s tuition protection eligibility, their continued study with a replacement provider, and loan re‑crediting.

Principles for determining affected parts of a course

In determining the parts of a course affected by a VSL provider default the following outlines the principles and types of evidence the TPS may consider:

  • Students affected by a default cannot be charged for replacement components of a replacement course if tuition fees have been paid for the affected parts of their original course. [See section 66G(3)(b) of the VSL Act]
  • Where a suitable replacement course cannot be found, the student will have their HELP balance re-credited for the loan amount used to pay tuition fees for the affected parts of the original course. [section72A of the VSL Act]
  • In determining what constitutes an affected part of an original course, the TPS Director may consider all relevant evidence available to ensure students receive their correct entitlement

Types of evidence that may be considered

  • AQF certification documentation
    • Testamur: issued once student has achieved all requirements of a VET qualification
    • Statement of Attainment: issued to certify the successful completion of one or more units of competency
    • Record of Results: may be issued alongside either of the above to record the results achieved by the student in each unit of competency they undertook.
  • Authenticated VET transcript issued by the Student Identifiers Registrar.
  • Data reported by the defaulting provider into TCSI and the electronic Commonwealth Assistance Form (eCAF).
  • Student study information provided by the defaulting provider under subsection 66C (3) of the VET Student Loans Act 2016
  • The course mapping of the defaulting provider; i.e. evidence of which units (or parts of units) of competency sit under each unit of study.
  • Any other evidence considered relevant by the TPS Director.

Replacement providers

The TPS may contact providers with an opportunity to enrol additional students. This will happen when there has been a default and there are students who need to continue their studies.

Becoming a replacement provider

VSL providers are encouraged to act as replacement providers. Providers identified as delivering possible suitable replacement courses will be contacted by the TPS to discuss:

  • the willingness and capacity of the provider to act as a replacement provider
  • the date affected students would be able to commence in a replacement course
  • the incentive payment (if any) that may be available to assist with administrative costs of taking on affected students.

The process of placing students with replacement providers is multi-faceted:

  • Firstly, the TPS will formally advise the students of suitable replacement courses
  • Students will then be instructed to contact their potential replacement provider and discuss whether the replacement course will meet their personal needs
  • Students are then required to inform the TPS of their preferred replacement course
  • The TPS will then contact the replacement provider to advise them of the students’ choices
  • The replacement providers will then need to contact the students facilitate offers and enrolment. If there are any problems at this stage, please contact the TPS
  • Enter into a signed student placement agreement with the student

Incentives for becoming a replacement provider

Incentive payments may be made to replacement providers. The purpose of these payments is to contribute towards the unavoidable costs associated with accepting additional students.

The TPS may offer incentive payments to facilitate positive outcomes for students who are affected by defaults. There is no minimum or maximum incentive payment amount.

The incentive payment becomes payable to the replacement provider when the student is enrolled; an Agreement, signed by the provider and the student, or their guardian, is provided to the TPS; the student submits an eCAF and after the student's first reported census date.

Replacement provider obligations

The VSL tuition protection arrangements impose obligations on replacement providers. These obligations are prescribed in the VET Student Loans Act 2016 (VSL Act) and include:

  • notifying the TPS Director in writing of a student’s acceptance of an offer of a place in a replacement course within 14 days of the acceptance
  • granting course credits for parts of the original course successfully completed by a student as evidenced by:
    • a statement of attainment or other AQF certification documentation; or
    • an authenticated VET Transcript
  • not charging a student tuition fees for replacement components of the affected part of the original course for which tuition fees were paid
  • enrolling a student in the replacement course as soon as practicable.