Careers Australia caught up in enrolment scam

ABC 7.30    |   3 March 2015

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One of Australia’s biggest private training providers is being accused of using salesmen who target disadvantaged areas and enrol poor students with fake entrance exams.

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Careers AustCareers Australia is a market leader in vocational education, with 16 campuses across five states and 14,000 students, and is expanding rapidly by engaging door-to-door salespeople to sign up new students to courses funded by the Federal Government.

Last financial year Careers Australia billed taxpayers for almost $110 million in VET FEE-HELP loans.

But a current Careers Australia student and former sales broker have told ABC’s 7.30 that rapid growth is being achieved using dubious sales tactics.

Nola Smith, a single mother of three living on Hobart’s suburban fringe in Herdsmans Cove, signed up for a $20,000 double diploma of counselling and community services after being doorknocked by a salesman late last year.

She said she was told she could pick her own course and that she could undertake the course entirely from home.

Nola

Nola Smith said she was surprised when a salesman completed a series of tests for her (ABC)

Ms Smith said she had to pass a language, literacy and numeracy test, but was surprised when the salesman took the test for her.

They basically moved the laptop from in front of me and said ‘it’s okay, I’ve done this before’ and filled it all out.

Former sales broker Chris Chambers confirmed that sales brokers were taking the entrance exams for potential students, and claimed he saw it happen 40 to 50 times.

These literacy language and numeracy tests were to gauge the eligibility of the student to actually complete the course and potentially pay off their VET FEE debt.

Chambers alleged that communities with high welfare dependence like Hobart’s Bridgewater, Gagebrook and Herdsmans Cove were deliberately targeted.

Careers Australia provided a statement which said a third party supplier –Direct Sales Group –  had been suspended following an internal review “which highlighted some irregularities in student referrals from this supplier”.

The Australian Council of Private Education and Training has confirmed its determination to stamp out such practices and outlined measures it promoting among its members, particularly in relation to agents and brokers. It has asked Careers Australia to provide a response to the allegations that were made.  ACPET does note that the program was based on comments provided by one salesman who is in dispute with his employer (Direct Sales Group), a student who clearly believes she was taken advantage of and an ex-employee who finished his time with Careers Australia in mid-2013.  ACPET says no students were enrolled by the third party and that Careers Australia processed all enrolments and identified the LLN issues long before the ABC report.

See
Careers Australia salespeople accused of enrolling poor students with fake entrance exams
ACPET slams AEU study
Sorry state of the market
 
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