The Australian Vocational Learning Centre Pty Ltd (AVLC) has agreed to cancel enrolments and repay VET FEE-HELP funding to the Commonwealth for students affected by certain marketing practices that breached the Australian Consumer Law, following an investigation by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
In a court-enforceable undertaking, AVLC has admitted that between 1 July 2014 and 30 April 2015, through the conduct of certain marketing agents, it:
- made false or misleading representations to consumers, including that the VET FEE‑HELP courses were free, government funded or specifically for low-income individuals
- engaged in unconscionable conduct, including pressuring certain consumers into enrolling into courses that were not suitable for their education levels and personal backgrounds, and appearing to target disadvantaged and vulnerable consumers, and
- entered into unsolicited consumer agreements with some consumers without disclosing certain information required for such agreements, such as the consumer’s right to terminate the agreement within a cooling off period.
“AVLC has admitted that its conduct breached the Australian Consumer Law, and it is pleasing to see the steps now being taken by AVLC to redress the harm caused by this conduct. This undertaking is another outcome from the ACCC’s investigation of the conduct of numerous private colleges in connection with the VET FEE-HELP scheme,” ACCC Commissioner Sarah Court said.
“The ACCC acknowledges that AVLC cooperated with this investigation and took a number of steps to remedy its conduct. These included cancelling some students’ enrolments, repaying at least $225,940 to the Commonwealth, and ceasing to use the marketing agents involved in the conduct.”
AVLC has also agreed to:
- notify potentially affected consumers by mail and email, on its website and at its campus about the process under which they can seek to have their enrolment and debt cancelled, and what the consumer should do to make a claim under this consumer redress program
- establish and implement an ACL compliance program, and
- not to make false or misleading representations of a similar kinds in the future.
“The ACCC is continuing to work closely with other Commonwealth and State agencies to address conduct in the VET FEE-HELP sector,” Ms Court said.
The undertaking is available on our Public register
What affected consumers should do:
AVLC has agreed to cancel the enrolments and repay to the Commonwealth any money it received for consumers who:
- were enrolled into an AVLC VET FEE-HELP course between 1 July 2014 and 30 April 2015, and
- can show that they were misled into enrolling or that the legal requirements for unsolicited consumer agreements were not met (e.g. they were not told that they could opt out within a cooling off period).
For further information or to make a claim, consumers should contact AVLC on on (02) 9687 0620 or email@example.com. Consumers may also contact the ACCC Infocentre on 1300 302 502 or the Indigenous Infoline on 1300 303 143.
During the period when the conduct took place, AVLC received and processed approximately 225 VET FEE-HELP enrolment applications. Approximately 195 of those students were subsequently enrolled and incurred a debt to the Commonwealth. AVLC received approximately $2.1 million from the Commonwealth in relation to these students.
As part of an investigation jointly conducted with NSW Fair Trading, the ACCC has taken action in the Federal Court against four private colleges and has also accepted a court enforceable undertaking from Careers Australia Group Limited in connection with conduct involving the VET FEE-HELP scheme.
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- ACCC takes action against Empower Institute following joint investigation with NSW Fair Trading
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- ACCC takes action against Unique International College following joint investigation with NSW Fair Trading
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