Australian Vocational Learning Centre Pty Ltd (AVLC) - s.87B undertaking

Company or individual details

  • Australian Vocational Learning Centre Pty Ltd (AVLC)

Undertaking

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has accepted a court enforceable undertaking from Australian Vocational Learning Centre Pty Ltd (AVLC) in relation to its marketing practices and enrolment of consumers to its VET FEE-HELP courses.

 

AVLC is a provider of vocational education and training courses to consumers. Since 2014, it has provided VET FEE-HELP accredited Diploma courses in marketing, business, management and accounting.

The ACCC was concerned, and AVLC has admitted, that between 1 July 2014 and 30 April 2015 (the relevant period), AVLC, through the conduct of certain marketing agents:

  • engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct and made false or misleading representations to certain consumers by falsely representing that VET FEE-HELP courses offered by AVLC were:

    • free or free unless the consumer’s income was of an amount which they were unlikely to earn on completion of a course, or at all

    • government funded or paid for by the government, and/or

    • specifically for low income individuals

  • engaged in unconscionable conduct with respect to some consumers by:

    • pressuring certain consumers into enrolling in courses that were not suitable for their education levels and personal backgrounds

    • appearing to target disadvantaged and vulnerable consumers, including Indigenous consumers in rural areas and those with low levels of literacy and numeracy skills

    • failing to adequately explain the nature of the debt incurred by consumers when enrolling in AVLC VET FEE-HELP courses, 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.

 

During the relevant period, AVLC received and processed approximately 225 students for enrolment in AVLC’s courses under the VET FEE-HELP scheme. Approximately 195 of these students were subsequently enrolled and incurred a debt to the Commonwealth. AVLC received a total of $2,173,730 from the Commonwealth in relation to these students.

Of these students, AVLC has since cancelled 30 student enrolments and repaid or partially repaid to the Commonwealth amounts totalling $225,940 in relation to these cancellations.

To address the ACCC’s concerns, AVLC provided the ACCC with a section 87B undertaking that it will:

  • implement a consumer redress program under which consumers who may have been misled may approach AVLC to have their enrolment and debt cancelled

  • inform potentially affected consumers by mail and email, on its website and at its campus about the consumer redress program and the steps to be taken by a consumer should they wish to make a claim under the program

  • establish and implement an ACL compliance program, including training for staff and regular reviews, and

  • not engage in the conduct of concern in the future.