Tasmanian Times

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche


How Australia’s education debacle is still creating victims

Rachel Murphy had barely begun the tertiary course that was supposed to kick-start her career when it abruptly ended.

After returning from a gap year in 2016, the sports enthusiast enrolled in a fitness coaching diploma at Sage Institute – the private training college heavily promoted by Biggest Loser TV star Steve “Commando” Willis.

Little did she know that five months later, Sage would shut down and become yet another footnote in what was arguably the biggest public policy scandal in Australian history: the systematic rorting of the vocational education and training system.

Under the federal VET FEE-HELP scheme, private vocational colleges gained virtually unregulated access to government subsidies for every student enrolled, usually tens of thousands of dollars per student. Fuelled by salesmen who lured students with free laptops to sign up to over-priced, often online courses, providers made away with billions of dollars of government money while delivering very little education.

Murphy was just one of many victims. She has a $7500 debt to the Commonwealth for a course she did not complete. At the age of 20, she has become so disheartened by the experience that she has moved overseas and is not sure if she will ever return to study.

“I was in so much shock when it all happened because I was really enjoying my course,” Murphy said last week from Scotland, where she works in a restaurant as she reassesses her future.

“Now I just feel super-disappointed because I could be doing so much more with my life.” …

Read more here



  1. TGC

    May 21, 2018 at 8:08 pm

    One of the great luxuries now ‘available’ to the young : “After returning from a gap year in 2016”

  2. Leonard Colquhoun

    May 22, 2018 at 8:30 pm

    Is this the sentence which tells us the core stupidities in what the SMH’s Farrah Tomazin has outlined above … “Under the federal VET FEE-HELP scheme, private vocational colleges gained virtually unregulated access to government subsidies for every student enrolled, usually tens of thousands of dollars per student”.

    Two bits stand out:

    1. “scheme” (at least, the governments involved got that right!), and

    2. “unregulated access to government subsidies” – a ‘come-and-get-it’ for one and all.

    Sadly, such slackness, lack of due diligence and of awareness of the realities of human nature, comprise just plain laziness which now seems to the norm in taxpayer funded ‘schemes’ and none of these excuse the private shonks who perpetrated these rorts.

    And, about that “great luxury” – good on those of them who spent their gap years doing worthwhile things!

  3. Geoffrey Swan

    May 22, 2018 at 8:50 pm

    #1 … Fair go Trevor, that is very harsh. This is a tragic situation for a young person starting out.

    I can only assume that you are a native born Tasmanian, and like so many others you have perhaps never traveled overseas. Indeed “Why would you?” I hear so many locals say. “All we need is right here in Tassie.”

    As someone who went straight from high school into University, and as someone who has lived and worked throughout Australia and New Zealand, I will always counsel young people to take a Gap year, work in hospitality or similar, make some money, learn about life outside of school, and if possible, travel.

    In so doing they will return far more equipped for University .. or indeed for commencing a full time career.

  4. Simon Warriner

    May 22, 2018 at 11:20 pm

    Re #2 … Something we can agree on, Leonard. I would add that the debacle was brought into being by party politicians who had already demonstrated their failure to understand the problems caused by conflicted interests. Just one example of the many problems throughout our system of government that can be attributed to that trait.

    Re gap years, there is no one size fits all answer, but overall I tend to think everyone should have some experience of the workplace before they enter academic education at a tertiary level. It might prevent a few of the more glaring faux pas committed by degree-credentialed individuals with inadequate breadth of life experience to allow them to see other perspectives.

    Yes TGC, they are lucky to be able to have the choice, but a luxury? I know a couple of guys my age who spent a 3 year “gap” shearing sheep to put themselves through uni, and have worked with others doing a similar thing as labourers. It is not always a holiday, and they are better off, for it involving real work from what I have seen over the years.

  5. TGC

    May 23, 2018 at 12:19 am

    I think the ‘origin’ of gap year was that a student, having flogged himself silly getting through high school, ‘deserved’ a year off everything – a gap year wherein they travelled and probably partied often, but generally avoided anything remotely connected to ‘work’

    “Once upon a time” end of high school, academic or technical, was immediately followed by either work-at a proper job/apprenticeship/trainee/learning the industry, or, when matriculation was the go on to university for those academically capable.

    A “Yes”, Len C. I might say “I remember it well”.

  6. Reg Smith

    May 24, 2018 at 5:30 pm

    What the hell is going on here?

    ATO handing out thousands of tax file numbers without consent to dodgy salesmen; $7.5 billion down the drain for worthless ‘internet diplomas’; “it is difficult to report accurately the precise number of students who did not know they were enrolled or had a debt”. Perhaps it’s all of the 449,229 ‘lost’ students.

    How can this be, no criminal charges laid. Why, where’s the investigation, how can this have been allowed to continue for so long after it had been exposed?

    It is impossible to believe the well paid bureaucrats running this ‘scheme’ could all be so incompetent. Why didn’t someone speak out?

    Rip off merchants masquerading as training colleges, complete with former politician board members to imitate legitimacy, trading while insolvent after sending squillions overseas. Where’s ASIC, where’s the AFP?

    “How VET FEE-HELP didn’t lead to a royal commission, I don’t know,” says former Holmesglen TAFE boss and industry expert Bruce Mackenzie. “It was a disaster.” I could not agree more. Someone needs to start rattling a few cages!

  7. Simon Warriner

    May 24, 2018 at 10:25 pm

    Reg, I think we will find that if someone can be bothered doing the hard work, a small portion of the public money handed to the shonks running these “schools” and providing the courses has been returned to the pollies via “donations”.

    Both Lib and Lab are in on that game, and that is why there will be no Royal Commission.

    We need more Independent elected representatives who are not in the club, if that club is to be disrupted.

  8. cait

    May 28, 2018 at 1:54 pm

    The worst part of this policy disaster is that Britain was going through the repair crisis as Australia was preparing to introduce the failed British policy.

    Political parties forcing our local member to vote for such rotten policies is destroying our democracy as we lose faith in the institutions designed to provide for, and protect us.

  9. Leonard Colquhoun

    May 28, 2018 at 3:30 pm

    I’m not sure about #8’s “Political parties forcing our local member to vote for such rotten policies is ‘in itself’ destroying our democracy”.

    A party-less parliament simply does NOT work, as shown, for example, in Weimar Germany between WWI and WWII. Voters who vote for a set of policies need to have confidence that they will be implemented as far as possible.

    There will always be ‘parties’, even if only vague continually changing groups and sets of MPs. (Not a problem, of course, in the so-called parliaments in the Third Reich and the Supreme Soviet, where the members’ main concern was getting the length and loudness of the mandatory clapping just right!)

    Yes, the quality of our MPs has degenerated over the last two decades, partly because being an MP has become a career. Perhaps more citizens who feel strongly about the absurdities in their preferred (or least disliked) parties should join up as active members, rather than being just whiners on the sidelines. (And, confession time: I’ve never done that meself.)

  10. Cameron

    May 28, 2018 at 5:16 pm

    #1 and #5 … Thanks for reporting in from 1972 again. Good to hear from you.

    Heaven forbid that a gap year might involve having to work to save money to pay for what was free back in your day.

  11. cait

    May 28, 2018 at 5:36 pm

    #9 … Yes Leonard, coalitions will always form, and they may consolidate into parties.

    When the pollies’ first loyalty resides with the party we are not far from the Soviet style you refer to.

    However, you seem to assume this is an inevitability. The US pollies cross the floor quite regularly, but keep their seat.

    Crossing the floor here, or even ‘not clapping long enough’ (check out the current coups in pre-selections) and you’re out. And here we are in agreement .. because it becomes about career, and not service.

  12. Leonard Colquhoun

    May 28, 2018 at 7:04 pm

    Yes, Comment #11 is right in pointing out that in both their House of Representatives and Senate US “pollies cross the floor quite regularly, but keep their seat”.

    As far as I’ve bothered to work out, there seem to be at least two main reasons: their Congress cannot end an ‘administration’ in the way that our ‘governments’ can be, and because caucus-strength (ALP style) is unenforceable, possibly because the US is more truly a federation of sovereign states than we now have become, with their equivalent of our Section 51 (i)-(xxxix) more effective in lessening Washington’s centralising tendencies.

    Others more knowledgeable may help with further points.

  13. Reg Smith

    May 30, 2018 at 8:18 pm

    Heaven help us!

    This guy was in charge of another’rip-off-the-taxpayer scheme’, the Pink Batts stuff up. He has now left his $350,000 job to “pursue other interests”.

    I wonder where he’ll pop up next.

  14. Simon Warriner

    May 30, 2018 at 10:12 pm

    Re #11 and #12 … A more likely reason those crossing the floor get to keep their seats is because of the massive corruption of US politicians by business/interest groups which enables the continued re-election of the more “reliable” individuals.

    They will vote the way they are directed regardless of which side puts up the bills – which are rarely read in full anyway.

    I’m not saying it is better or worse than our own system of blind allegiance, but rather I’m just observing what happens.

  15. C Hemple

    June 6, 2018 at 2:54 am

    Hint: don’t take career advice from a guy whose claim to fame is being on a TV show called The Biggest Loser.

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