Training provider to pay back millions in government loans

ONE of the country's biggest training providers is paying back the Federal Government $44 million in loans for courses after admitting to breaking the law.

Careers Australia has reached a deal with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to repay the loans it secured through students being signed up with false claims.

The company was given the government loans to cover the cost of the student courses, despite students either not starting or completing them.

The court enforceable deal, which the company has reached with the ACCC to avoid court, comes amid wider concerns about rorting of the government's VET FEE-HELP loan scheme.

Several companies are being investigated over their use of the scheme.

Careers Australia had received about $190 million in government-backed loans since 2013, some $44 million of which were for 12,130 fake enrolments.

Those fake enrolments included students who were signed up to courses but did not complete any study, as well as vulnerable people who were not told they would incur debt.

ACCC chairman Rod Sims said it was unacceptable that some 80 people in the remote Queensland community of Yarrabah were signed up for courses but never told of the debts they would incur.

"It is also unacceptable that significant Commonwealth money went to fund courses that were often not undertaken," he said.

A statement from the ACCC said the Careers Australia had made false or misleading claims to prospective students through a marketing agent.

It is the fifth provider the consumer watchdog has taken action against, of 10 it is investigating.

The company has said it is repaying the funds of its own volition and has ended its contract with the marketing company involved in signing up prospective students.


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