Advertisement

The Australian Educational Researcher

, Volume 45, Issue 3, pp 383–400 | Cite as

A reflective account of the VET FEE-HELP initiative as a driver of ethical dilemmas for vocational education teachers in Australia

  • Sonal Nakar
  • Richard G. Bagnall
  • Steven Hodge
Article

Abstract

This paper reviews the nature and implementation of the Australian VET FEE-HELP (VFH) policy initiative: a scheme introduced in 2008 to extend income-contingent loans to the vocational education and training (VET) sector in Australia. We argue that the implementation of the scheme has been seriously flawed, leading to a range of counter-educational and unethical practices on the part of some VET providers. An ongoing research project into the impact of the changing contemporary cultural context of VET on the creation of moral dilemmas facing VET teachers in their work has identified four dilemmas that were seen by teachers to be significantly driven by the VFH scheme. Those dilemmas arose from (1) unethical student recruitment and enrolment practices, (2) overlooking traditional educational standards, (3) constraining teacher responsiveness and (4) manipulating learning assessment. The identifying teachers saw themselves as being professionally unprepared to handle such moral dilemmas, leading to discomfort and inappropriate handling of the dilemmas.

Keywords

Vocational education and training VET FEE-HELP Quality education Teacher dilemma Unethical practices Ethical dilemma 

References

  1. Aird, C., & Branley, A. (2015). Sydney hairdressing college accused of claiming training loans for under-skilled graduates. ABC News. Retrieved January 21, 2016 from http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-02-28/college-accused-of-claiming-loans-for-underskilled-graduates/6270106.
  2. Australian College. (2015). VET FEE-HELP exposed! Retrieved September 12, 2015 from https://australiancollege.edu.au/blog/vet-fee-help-exposed-1.
  3. Australian Council for Private Education and Training (ACPET). (2012). Changes to VET FEE-HELP: Legislation passed for improving the program. Retrieved January 28, 2016 from http://www.acpet.edu.au/article/5086/changes-to-vet-fee-help–legislation-passed-for-improving-the-program/#sthash.b59UyC4A.dpuf.
  4. Australian Council for Private Education and Training (ACPET). (2016). Changes to VET FEE-HELP – legislation passed for improving the program. http://www.acpet.edu.au/article/5086/changes-to-vet-fee-help--legislationpassed-for-improving-the-program/#sthash.b59UyC4A.dpuf. Accessed 28 Jan 2016.
  5. Australian National Audit Office. (2015). Audit work program. Retrieved August 30, 2015 from http://www.anao.gov.au/About-Us/Audit-Work-Program/~/media/Files/Audit%20Work%20Programs/AWP-July-2015-web.pdf.
  6. Australian Skills Quality Authority. (2015a). Users’ guide standards for registered training organisations (RTOs) 2015. Retrieved September 09, 2015 from http://www.asqa.gov.au/verve/_resources/Users_Guide_to_the_Standards_for_Registered_Training_Organisations_RTOs_2015.pdf.
  7. Australian Skills Quality Authority. (2015b). Australian Skills Quality Authority annual report 201415. Retrieved September 09, 2015 from http://www.asqa.gov.au/verve/_resources/ASQA_Annual_Report_2014-15.pdf.
  8. Australian Taxation Office (ATO). (2017). HELP, SSL, ABSTUDY SSL, TSL and SFSS repayment thresholds and rates. Retrieved December 09, 2017 from https://www.ato.gov.au/Rates/HELP,-TSL-and-SFSS-repayment-thresholds-and-rates/.
  9. Badaracco, J. L. (1992). Business ethics: Four spheres of executive responsibility. California Management Review, 34(3), 64–79.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bagnall, R. (1998). Moral education in a postmodern world: Continuing professional education. Journal of Moral Education, 27(3), 313–331.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Bagnall, R. G. (1999). Discovering radical contingency: Building a postmodern agenda in adult education. New York, NY: Peter Lang.Google Scholar
  12. Bagnall, R. G. (2004). Cautionary tales in the ethics of lifelong learning policy and management: A book of fables. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Bagnall, R. G. (2007). The ethics of lifelong learning and its implications for values education. In D. N. Aspin & J. D. Chapman (Eds.), Values education and lifelong learning (pp. 61–79). Dordrecht: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Bauman, Z. (1995). Life in fragments: Essays in postmodern morality. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  15. Branley, A. (2015). Forty per cent of government loans for diplomas will go unpaid, report says. ABC News. Retrieved February 22, 2015 from http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-02-20/40pc-of-diploma-government-loans-will-go-unpaid,-report-says/6162518.
  16. Bunge, M. (1989). Ethics: The good and the right. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Catryna Sen, B. (2015). National vocational education and training regulator amendment bill 2015. Retrieved February 15, 2016 from http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/display/display.w3p;query=Id%3A%22legislation%2Fems%2Fr5416_ems_f3c2bb8f-6b29-477d-bb54-940da0c7652d%22.
  18. Colnerud, G. (1997). Ethical conflicts in teaching. Teaching and Teacher Education, 13(6), 627–635.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR). (2011). Post implementation review of the VET FEE-HELP assistance scheme: Final report. Retrieved January 18, 2016 from http://www.deewr.gov.au/Skills/Programs/Support/VetFeeHelp/Pages/PostImplementation.aspx.
  20. Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR). (2012). VET FEE HELP 2012 booklet update. Retrieved January 20, 2016 from http://studyassist.gov.au/sites/StudyAssist/HelpfulResources/Documents/VET%20FEE-HELP%202012%20Booklet%20-%20Update.pdf.
  21. Department of Education and Training (DET). (2014). VET FEE-HELP loans for quality training. Retrieved January 21, 2016 from http://studyassist.gov.au/sites/StudyAssist/News/Documents/VET%20FEE-HELP%20Launch%20Factsheet.pdf.
  22. Department of Education and Training (DET). (2015). Trial to extend VET FEE-HELP to certain Certificate IV qualifications. Retrieved February 15, 2016 from https://education.gov.au/trial-extend-vet-fee-help-certain-certificate-iv-qualifications.
  23. Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education (DIISRTE). (2012). Regulation impact statement VET FEE-HELP redesign paper. Retrieved February 10, 2016 from http://ris.finance.gov.au/files/2012/10/03-VET-FEE-HELP-REDESIGN-RIS.pdf.
  24. Forward, P., & Scroggie, R. (2015). Australian education union submission inquiry into the operation, regulation and funding of private vocational education and training (VET) providers in Australia. Retrieved October 20, 2015 from http://www.aeufederal.org.au/application/files/9714/3277/8582/subVET022015.pdf.
  25. Gair, K. (2015). VET courses: Ban ends hefty withdrawal fees from rogue providers. The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved January 21, 2016 from http://www.smh.com.au/national/education/vet-courses-ban-ends-hefty-withdrawal-fees-from-rogue-providers-20150625-ghxiec.html#ixzz3pjwwLhX7.
  26. Gust, J., Miller, R., & Bridges, L. (1999). Round peg, square hole: A teacher lives and learns in watts. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann Educational.Google Scholar
  27. Hostetler, K. D., & Hostetler, B. S. (1996). Ethical judgment in teaching. Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.Google Scholar
  28. Irwin, T. H., & Nussbaum, M. (1988). The fragility of goodness. The Journal of Philosophy, 85(7), 376.Google Scholar
  29. MacIntyre, A. (1981). After virtue. London: Duckworth.Google Scholar
  30. Mackenzie, N. (2007). Teacher morale: More complex than we think? The Australian Educational Researcher, 34(1), 89–104.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Science and Research, & Minister for Small Business. (2015). Higher Education Support Amendment (further streamlining and other measures) Bill 2013. Retrieved January 31, 2016 from https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/C2013B00024/99597d4a-1afc-4655-8661-a6aed783845f.
  32. Mitchell, J. (2015). Reforms at the speed of scandal. Campus Review, 25(3). Retrieved January 31, 2016 from http://apnedmedia.uberflip.com/i/487921-issue-3-march-2015/22.
  33. Nakar, S. (2013). Understanding VET teachers’ challenges in providing quality education to international students. International Journal of Training Research, 11(1), 79–88.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. New South Wales Parliament (library cataloguing-in-publication data). (2015). Vocational education and training in New South Wales. Retrieved September 30, 2015 from http://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/prod/parlment/committee.nsf/0/47c667e2968cfba4ca257f1b00802584/%24FILE/FINAL%20151215%20Report%20compile.pdf.
  35. Scarr, L. (2015). $100 K fines for dodgy trainers. News Corp Australia Network. Retrieved April 27, 2015 from http://www.news.com.au/national/dodgy-training-providers-face-fines-upwards-of-100000-under-vet-crackdown/story-fncynjr2-1227287975046.
  36. Seddon, T. (2015). Marketization of VET: Making sense? Prompting new questions? Retrieved May 15, 2015 from http://www.academia.edu/11932440/Marketization_of_VET_Making_sense_Prompting_new_questions.
  37. Shapira-Lishchinsky, O. (2011). Teachers’ critical incidents: Ethical dilemmas in teaching practice. Teaching and Teacher Education, 27(3), 648–656.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Smith, J. A., & Osborn, M. (2003). Interpretative phenomenological analysis. In J. A. Smith (Ed.), Qualitative psychology: A practical guide to research methods (pp. 51–80). London: Sage.Google Scholar
  39. Taylor, J. (2015). Hundreds of private training college graduates forced to hand back qualifications. ABC News. Retrieved April 26, 2015 from http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-04-22/private-training-college-graduates-stripped-of-qualifications/6412318.
  40. Usher, R. (2012). Lifelong learning, contemporary capitalism and postmodernity. In D. N. Aspin, J. Chapman, K. Evans, & R. Bagnall (Eds.), Second international handbook of lifelong learning: Part two (pp. 721–742). Dordrecht: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Wain, K. (2004). The learning society in a postmodern world: The education crisis. New York, NY: Peter Lang.Google Scholar
  42. Yu, S., & Oliver, D. (2015). The capture of public wealth by the for-profit VET sector: A report prepared for the Australian Education Union. Retrieved November 27, 2015 from http://stoptafecuts.com.au/files/3014/2672/1577/2015_02_25_The_Capture_of_Public_Wealth_by_the_For-Profit_VET_Sector_finalv4.pdf.

Copyright information

© The Australian Association for Research in Education, Inc. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sonal Nakar
    • 1
  • Richard G. Bagnall
    • 1
  • Steven Hodge
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Education and Professional Studies, Griffith UniversityMt GravattAustralia

Personalised recommendations