Future tradies face big government funding cuts

Student loans to be withdrawn from many training courses

If you’re thinking of studying for a trade anytime soon, you might need to think again. The government has announced huge cuts to the VET FEE-HELP program which will put the cost of this skills training well out of reach for many potential students.


  • Under this scheme you can get a government loan for the cost of all or part of your course fees.
  • It applies to all types of vocational training, from traditional trades like beauty and hairdressing, childcare, plumbing, electrical and mechanical, to design, business, recruitment and IT.
  • Once you finish your study and get a job that pays at least $54,869 a year, you then repay the student loan through the tax taken out of your pay.
  • Whether you study through a private college or TAFE, your course could be eligible for this student loan scheme.

What are the changes?

  • The government plans to slash $2.4 billion from VET FEE-HELP funding.
  • They say that student loans have blown out from $325 million in 2012 to costing taxpayers $2.9 billion in 2015.
  • The government is therefore cutting the list of courses that are eligible for these student loans, from the current 825 courses to just 347 next year.
  • They’re also going to cap the amount students can loan through VET FEE-HELP.
  • The cap will be either $5000, $10,000 or $15,000, depending on how much the government believes your course should cost to deliver.

Who is affected?

  • Not all courses and trades will affected – some will remain eligible for the student loan scheme.
  • The government will look at what skills are in short supply and prioritise funding for courses that address their national economic priority areas like science, maths and agriculture.

Where does this leave potential students and tradies?

  • Many believe that these government cuts to diploma, certificate III and other courses will make this training unaffordable and completely out of reach for many people.
  • Training industry experts warn the cuts could deny more than 500,000 young Aussies the chance to develop their skills and get a better job.

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