Tuition Protection Service - Higher Education

FAQ

Students

What do the tuition protection arrangements mean for FEE-HELP and HECS-HELP students?

If you are a FEE-HELP or HECS-HELP student who is unable to complete your course due to your private higher education provider defaulting (ceasing to commence or deliver your course or closing entirely), you will be assisted under tuition protection arrangements.

If your provider defaults, you will be offered the choice of either:

  • assistance to move to another HELP provider who is delivering the same or a similar course. You can complete your studies at this new provider and not be charged for replacement units, OR
  • receiving a loan re-credit for the units of study you had received a HELP loan for and were undertaking, when your provider defaulted.

Who will assist me if my HELP provider defaults?

If your private HELP provider defaults (ceases to deliver your course or closes entirely), the Tuition Protection Service (TPS) will contact you directly. The TPS will offer you the option to either receive a loan re-credit for eligible parts of the course, or assistance to move to a similar replacement course.

The TPS can be contacted at: administrator@ta.education.gov.au or phone 1300 259 044.

Which students are eligible for HELP Tuition Protection?

FEE-HELP and HECS-HELP students studying with private HELP providers are eligible for tuition protection assistance if the course has not commenced, or ceases after commencement but before completion, and the student has not previously withdrawn.

Students who pay their fees directly to their provider (i.e. do not use a HELP loan to support their studies) are not eligible to access HELP tuition protection assistance. Direct fee paying students should refer to the direct fees FAQ for further information.

My HELP provider closed in 2019 or earlier - who do I contact to discuss tuition protection assistance?

You should contact the TPS at: administrator@ta.education.gov.au or phone 1300 259 044.

My public HELP provider has closed or ceased delivering my course - what assistance can I access?

If your TAFE or Government-owned provider defaults (ceases to deliver your course or closes entirely), they are required to provide you with assistance. You should contact your provider to identify what assistance they are able to provide to you.

My provider might be closing or ceasing to provide my course soon - what should I do?

You should discuss any potential default (ceasing to deliver your course or closing entirely), directly with your provider.

You should gather records of your course progression. Talk to your provider to request and print a copy of your academic transcript and print out copies of any course requirements, units of study, subjects, modules, assessments and work you have completed. You should gather copies of any invoices and/or receipts (HELP and direct payments) from your provider.

In the event that your provider defaults, this information will help the TPS and your replacement provider to appropriately place you in a new course or assess your loan re-credit eligibility.

I fees directly to my provider- what assistance can I access?

If you paid fees directly to your provider and require assistance, you can contact the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency's (TEQSA) on 1300 739 585 visit the TEQSA website.

If you believe you are owed a refund and the training provider or liquidator does not assist you, you may be able to seek advice by contacting the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) on 1300 302 502 or visiting the ACCC website. Your local state and territory consumer protection agency (sometime called 'consumer affairs') can also provide you with information about your rights and options. A list of state and territory consumer protection agencies can be found of the ACCC website.

I paid fees or made payments directly to my provider, in addition to my HELP loan - what assistance can I access?

Eligible HELP students whose private provider defaults, will be assisted under tuition protection arrangements.

For any fees or payments you paid to their defaulting provider, refer to the direct fees FAQ for further information.

What do the tuition protection arrangements mean for international students?

There are no changes to tuition protection arrangements for international students. The current TPS arrangements will continue as a dedicated service for international students, with the same protections and support through placements and refunds.

Please refer to the International TPS page for further information.

What do the tuition protection arrangements mean for domestic VET students?

If you are an eligible VET Student Loans (VSL) student whose private provider defaults (ceases to deliver your course or closes), you will be supported under the tuition protection arrangements. Please refer to the VSL TPS page for further information.

If you are a domestic VET student who has made direct payments (including gap-fee payments) to a provider, information to help you understand your next steps are can be found on the 'What to do when your training provider closes' page on the Australian Skills Quality Authority's (ASQA) website.

I want to receive a loan re-credit. What next?

If your provider defaults, you will receive a TPS Notice which offers you the choice of either receiving a loan re-credit for eligible units of study, or assistance to move to a replacement provider, if suitable replacement course have been identified by the TPS.

You must follow the instructions in the TPS Notice, making sure you adhere to any time frames in the Notice. If you elect to receive a loan re-credit, the TPS will process your loan re-credit for the units of study you had received a HELP loan for and were undertaking, when your provider defaulted.

I want to continue my studies with a replacement provider. What next?

If your provider defaults, you will receive a TPS Notice which offers you the choice of either receiving a loan re-credit for eligible units of study, or assistance to move to a replacement provider, if suitable replacement courses haven been identified by the TPS (the Notice will include information about these courses).

If you elect to continue your studies with a replacement provider, you will need to contact the providers listed in the TPS Notice as soon as possible to discuss your situation - there may be one or a number of providers/courses listed in the TPS Notice. You should ensure you are prepared to discuss the suitability of the provider and course, including your course progression with potential replacement providers. You should have copies of: your academic transcript; a list of completed subjects; assignments and assessments; and all invoices for your study (including HELP amounts), to support this discussion.

If you determine that a replacement course is suitable and wish to continue your studies with that provider, you must advise the TPS within the time frames in your TPS Notice and progress your enrolment with the provider.

If you have questions about what your need to do, or aren't able to meet the time frames, you must advise the TPS.

If you are not satisfied with the replacement course/provider options in your TPS Notice, you can seek a reconsideration by contacting the TPS at: administrator@ta.education.gov.au or phone 1300 259 044 within the timeframes in your TPS Notice.

Remember, you will need to contact replacement providers and arrange to be enrolled with them, this does not happen automatically.

I elected to continue my studies with a replacement provider - what will I have to pay for?

Your replacement provider is required to grant you course credits for units of study you successfully completed with your defaulting provider, or teach you replacement units at no additional cost, for units you had paid tuition fees or student contributions for, and were undertaking, when your provider defaulted.

If there are parts of the course you have not yet paid for, or parts of the course you failed or withdrew from with your defaulting provider, your replacement provider can charge you for those parts of the course.

Before you move to a replacement provider, you should discuss with the potential replacement provider(s): which parts of the course will and won't be credited; which parts of the course you will have to pay for; if these additional units of study can be paid for using a HELP loan, or if they will have to be paid directly to the provider; the mode of delivery (on-campus, online, blended delivery); general course requirements and the expected time frame to complete your studies.

I chose to continue my studies in a replacement course, but now I'd rather receive a loan re-credit - is this possible?

Under HELP tuition protection arrangements students are offered the option to either receive a loan re-credit for eligible parts of the course, or be assisted to move to a replacement provider to continue their course.

If you elected to continue your course, and now wish to change your chosen option, you should discuss this with the TPS as soon as possible. If you have already enrolled or commenced your replacement course, you may not be eligible to change to the loan re-credit option. You can contact the TPS at: administrator@ta.education.gov.au or phone 1300 259 044.

Providers

What do the tuition protection arrangements mean for FEE-HELP and HECS-HELP providers?

The HELP tuition protection arrangements see some changes for providers. Under the arrangements, there are specific conditions imposed on defaulting providers, and providers have replacement provider obligations.

The HELP tuition protection arrangements require non-exempt providers to pay annual levies, commensurate with their size and risk. Indicative levy amounts will be available in 2020.

The arrangements include incentive/transfer payments, which may be paid to HELP providers who enrol students as a replacement provider.

When did the tuition protection arrangements start?

The tuition protection arrangements started on 1 January 2020.

What constitutes a HELP Tuition Protection default?

A default occurs when a unit of study:

  • fails to start on the day on which it was scheduled, or
  • ceases to be provided after commencement but before completion; and
  • the student has not withdrawn before that day; and
  • the student was entitled, or would have been entitled, to HELP assistance for that unit of study.

I'm a defaulting provider - what are my obligations?

The tuition protection arrangements impose a range of obligations with associated timeframes on defaulting providers. These obligations are prescribed in the Higher Education Support Act 2003 (HESA) and the Higher Education Provider Guidelines (HELP Guidelines). Obligations include requirements to notify and cooperate with the Tuition Protection Director, and to provide information to students.

Within 24 Hours of Default

  • Give written notice to the HELP Tuition Protection Director of the circumstances of the default; the number of students in relation to whom the higher education provider has defaulted; and advice about whether the higher education provider intends to teach units of study so that students are able to complete the units, or provide a refund to those students and if so, how the higher education provider intends to teach the units and/or refund the students
  • Notify students enrolled in the course, in writing, that they have defaulted

Providers must specify in the student notice:

  • the name of the course of study affected by the default
  • the day the course of study ceased to be provided
  • a copy of the affected student's transcript for units of study already completed and
  • details of where to get information from the Australian Government Department of Education about tuition protection.

Within 3 Business Days of a Default Occurring

Give written notice to the HELP Tuition Protection Director specifying:

  • the student's full name and contact details
  • the units of study and the course of study, that the student was enrolled in at the time of the default
  • the amount of the tuition fees for each unit of study, that the student was enrolled in at the time of the default
  • details about the payment of those tuition fees
  • student contact hours
  • the mode of study and location of study, where the unit(s) of study are delivered face-to-face, for each unit of study affected by the default
  • unit hours
  • work integrated learning and internship requirements for each course of study affected by the default

If Requested by the Tuition Protection Director

Provide to the Tuition Protection Director in relation to students to whom the provider has defaulted, either:

  • Provide to the Tuition Protection Director in relation to students to whom the provider has defaulted, a copy of the student's record of results for the units of study that the student has completed.

I'm a replacement provider - what are my obligations?

HELP providers are encouraged to act as replacement providers, to support displaced FEE-HELP or HECS-HELP students to continue and complete their study. HELP providers are required to comply with replacement provider obligations.

If requested by the Tuition Protection Director, providers must provide information to assist the Tuition Protection Director in making decisions regarding suitable replacement courses for displaced students.

Replacement providers may receive an incentive/transfer payment which is intended to cover a portion of the administrative costs a replacement provider may incur. These payments are payable at the discretion of the Tuition Protection Director.

Replacement providers are required to meet a number of requirements to facilitate efficient and fair treatment of students to allow them to continue their studies with minimal disruption.

If a student accepts an offer of a place in a replacement course, the replacement provider must give written notice of the acceptance to the HELP Tuition Protection Director within 14 days of the student's acceptance of the offer.

Replacement providers must also:

  • enrol the student in the replacement course as soon as practicable
  • grant course credits for units of study of the original course successfully completed by the student, or
  • not charge the student a student contribution amount or a tuition fee for the replacement component of the replacement course, if a tuition fee or student contribution amount have been paid for the affected unit.

I'm a replacement provider for students displaced under Interim Tuition Assurance obligations - what are my obligations?

FEE-HELP and HECS-HELP tuition assurance activations that occurred prior to 1 January 2020, continue to be managed under the Australian Government's Interim Tuition Assurance arrangements. Providers who act as replacement providers for students affected by an activation that occurred on or before 31 December 2019, are required to continue to meet replacement provider obligations to support students to complete their course with as minimal disruption as possible.

How was the levy framework developed?

The Australian Government Actuary (AGA) developed the levy framework for the arrangements. The AGA has provided, and will continue to provide, advice on the levies to ensure the arrangements are financially sound. The AGA is represented on the HELP Tuition Protection Fund Advisory Board.

How much are the levies?

Indicative levy amounts will be provided to the sectors in 2020.

What is the levy comprised of?

Non-exempt providers will pay a levy comprised of an administrative fee component, a risk rated premium component and a special tuition protection component.

How are the levies calculated?

Parts of the levies are calculated using a provider's validated data from previous years. For example, 2020 levies will be based on a provider's 2019 validated Higher Education Information Management System (HEIMS) data.

It is essential that providers ensure their HEIMS data is up to date to ensure the levies reflect the provider's actual enrolments and risk.

Providers are reminded that they are required to update the HEIMS data in accordance with the Higher Education Support Act 2003 (HESA).

How are the levies set?

The levies are set using legislative instruments and will be reviewed annually, to ensure they remain appropriate to the sector.

The arrangements commenced on 1 January 2020 - when will the levies become payable?

Levies are expected to be collected in the second half of 2020. Details of the risk rated premium component and contributing factors will be available to providers in 2020.

Are all HELP providers subject to the arrangements?

TAFEs and other Government-owned providers are exempt from the tuition protection arrangements, with the exception of their obligations relating to providing information about replacement courses and their obligations as replacement providers. TAFEs and other Government-owned providers are required to provide tuition protection assistance for their students in the event they default.

This means that while TAFEs and Government-owned providers are exempt from paying any component of the levies and the obligations relating to a provider default. They will still be required to provide information to the Tuition Protection Director to enable the Tuition Protection Director to make decisions about suitable replacement courses; and to meet replacement provider obligations if they accept students whose provider has defaulted.

'Table A' Universities are exempt from all tuition protection requirements.

All other FEE-HELP and HECS-HELP providers, including not-for-profit and community-based providers, are required to be part of the HELP tuition protection arrangements, unless an exemption has been granted.

I am a provider operating across the Higher Education, VET and/or international education sectors - how do the arrangements work for me?

Providers operating across the Higher Education, VET and international education sectors pay separate levies for each sector. Independent levy amounts will be calculated based on data for each sector, and levies may be collected at different times during the year.

What do the levies pay for?

The levies collected under the arrangements will be held in sector-specific quarantined accounts and will be used to fund ongoing tuition protections for students and providers of each specific sector only. This means there will be no cross-subsidisation across the existing TPS for international students or tuition protection arrangements for FEE-HELP / HECS-HELP or VSL.

The levies are used to pay for:

  • tuition protection activation costs, including: incentive/transfer payments; any loan re-crediting costs
  • the third party TPS administrator that will assist students
  • insurance, as required, while the fund builds up to a sufficient amount
  • yearly actuarial services to advise the levy settings
  • the Tuition Protection Director and Advisory Board remuneration

Who is managing the arrangements?

The HELP tuition protection arrangements are managed by a statutory appointed HELP Tuition Protection Director who is supported by an independent HELP Tuition Protection Fund Advisory Board.

The Tuition Protection Director:

  • manages and makes calls on the fund
  • ensures providers are compliant with their tuition protection requirements
  • determines levies
  • supports students and providers if tuition protection is activated
  • provides general support to the sector regarding tuition protection.

What is the special tuition protection component of the levy?

The special tuition protection component is applied when the fund is below the target size. The target size is reviewed annually by the Tuition Protection Director and Advisory Board (including the Australian Government Actuary).

As the levies are reviewed and set annually, once the fund has reached its target size, the special tuition protection component may no longer be applied.

The special tuition protection component amount for 2020 will be implemented through a legislative instrument.

What is the incentive/transfer payment?

The tuition protection arrangements include an incentive/transfer payment which may be made to replacement providers enrolling students from a closed provider.

The payments are intended to cover a portion of the administrative costs a replacement provider may incur. These payment are at the discretion of the Tuition Protection Director.

What does the tuition protection administrator do?

The TPS administrator is contracted by the TPS to assist in its operations. The TPS administrator may assist the Tuition Protection Director to match displaced students with suitable replacement courses and providers, and may work with replacement providers to ensure the replacement providers have the appropriate data, support and information to enrol displaced students.

Do the tuition protection arrangements extend to domestic students who pay their tuition fees directly to their provider?

No. The tuition protection arrangements managed by the TPS do not extend to any other tuition protection requirements for pre-paid fees, for example, those under the Higher Education Standards Framework (Threshold Standards) 2015 (Framework).

Students who prepay their fees, will continue to be covered under the tuition protection arrangements set out in the Framework.

Questions regarding obligations under the Framework, should be directed to the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) information line on 1300 739 585 or via email at enquiries@teqsa.gov.au