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


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.


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


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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

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