VET student loan complaints
The Office of the Commonwealth Ombudsman investigates complaints about problems that VET FEE-HELP or VET Student Loans students have a problem with their provider and associated debt/s. Our services are free, independent an impartial—we do not take sides. To find out how to apply for a VET Student Loan, go to myHELPbalance.
Complaints we can look into
We can look into complaints from students who have a VET FEE-HELP or VET Student Loan debt, if the complaint is about the debt.
Issues we can look into include:
- incorrect or misleading information or advice given by a provider or their representative about your course or loan assistance
- providers charging you when you are no longer participating in the course
- you do not think you should have a debt
- incorrect loan amounts
- providers refusing your request for a loan re-credit
- providers cancelling your enrolment in a course you are paying for with VET Loan Assistance
- unsolicited contact or inducements which led you to apply for a loan
- provider’s handling of your complaint or appeal
Complaints we cannot look into
There are some issues we cannot help with. These include:
- other higher education loan debts, such as FEE-HELP
- the grade or mark your provider awarded you for an assessment task, competency or unit
- the quality of teaching
- the qualifications and experience of teachers
- the resources or equipment available at your provider
- the buildings and facilities at your provider
Is your complaint about one of the things we can’t look into?
We have a list of other ombudsmen and agencies that may help you.
- We investigate complaints about providers delivering education and training services under both the VET Student Loans program and VET FEE-HELP scheme
- We provide best practice complaint-handling advice and training to providers
- We report on trends and issues we identify with VET student loans
- We work with industry to maintain the VET Student Loans Code of Practice.
How we help
We help students with a VET FEE-HELP or VET Student Loan debt, who are studying or have studied a:
- advanced diploma
- graduate certificate
- graduate diploma course.
It is usually best to contact the agency, provider or organisation you are having issues with, before contacting the Office. It can usually address your complaint quickly or review the decision it made. Read our factsheet to find out how to make a complaint with your agency, provider or organisation.
Where a student does not think they should have a VET Student Loan debt, are unhappy with the way their complaint has been managed, or have attempted to get a re-credit of their debt after 1 January 2024 , we can review the way the complaint was handled. Read our factsheet to find out more about VET FEE-HELP debt complaints.
View our Complaints page for more information.
Before you contact us
Did you incur your debt between 2009 and 31 December 2016 under the ‘VET FEE-HELP’ assistance scheme?
- Read our factsheet to find out more
- If your education provider is open or available to be contacted, you will need to lodge a complaint with them first. Read our factsheet to find out how to make a complaint with your agency, provider or organisation
- If your education provider has closed, you should make a complaint to the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations because it has the legislated power to decide if a VET FEE-HELP debt can be recredited.
Did you incur your debt after 1 January 2017 under the VET Student Loan program?
- contact your provider before contacting us and tell them why you don’t think the debt is correct
- read our factsheet to find out how to make a complaint with your provider.
VET Student Loans Code of Practice
This voluntary code of practice (the Code) is for education providers who deliver VET Student Loan approved courses.
The Code is designed to give education providers best practice guidelines to resolve complaints before they reach our Office. The Code contains 10 principles that target issues our Office has identified in complaints regarding VET student loans and education providers. It includes good practice guidelines to assist education providers to apply each principle, as well as useful tips to help both education providers and students resolve complaints.
The Office has prepared a self-assessment tool for signatories to the code, which assists providers to assess their practices against the principles in the Code, and identify areas for improvement.
To obtain further information about the Code, or to return the Signatory Registration form, please email VSL.firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you, or someone you know, has a problem or complaint about your VET Student Loans training provider or an existing VET FEE-HELP complaint with our Office, you can contact us here.
If you have a new VET-FEE-HELP debt complaint, please refer to our factsheet on how our Office may be able to assist you.
- How we can help you with your VET loan debt complaint
- VET FEE-HELP Student Redress measures
- How to raise a complaint
- How to seek a review of your VET loan debt complaint
- Education providers: what to expect when we contact you
- Learn more by watching the videos about the VET Student Loans program on the Commonwealth Ombudsman YouTube channel
- Find out how the Commonwealth Ombudsman can help you lodge a complaint
Frequently asked questions
We can help if:
- you have a VET FEE-HELP or a VET Student Loan to cover all or part of the cost of their studies, or
- you have a VET FEE-HELP or VET Student Loan debt but you don’t think you should.
Family or friends of a person with a VET FEE-HELP or VET Student Loan debt can contact us on a student’s behalf by filling out a Permission for someone else to act on my behalf form.
We don’t take sides. Our investigations are private and usually informal.
When we receive a complaint, we first decide if it is an issue we can investigate. In some cases, we decide not to investigate. This might be because:
- you have not complained to the education provider first, or
- another organisation is better able to help.
If we decide not to investigate, we will tell you why and let you know what to do next. If you are not happy with our decision not to investigate, you can ask for a review. More information is available in our factsheet.
If we decide to investigate a complaint, we will ask the education provider about the problem. We may request relevant information, such as student records, from the provider. Further information on complaint investigations is available in our factsheet.
VET Student Loans
It takes an average of 3 months to investigate a VET Student Loans complaint, but this can vary. Some problems are simple to resolve while others are more complex and take longer to investigate. You can help the process by responding quickly to our requests for information and presenting your information clearly.
We will contact you within 5 working days of receiving your complaint, and we will keep you informed about the progress of your complaint.
Complaints about VET Fee-Help can take up to 12 months
To investigate a problem we usually need to give some information about the complaint to the provider to find out what has happened. This will include your name and a description of your complaint. You can ask us not to provide specific information.
We will treat your information with privacy and respect, and collect, store, use and disclose your personal information only in accordance with Australian privacy laws.
You can view our Privacy Statement here.
Yes, VET Student Loans approved course providers are members of the VET Student Loans Ombudsman, as the external dispute resolution scheme, as stated in the VET Student Loans Act 2016 section 25(2)(h).
We recommend VET Student Loans approved course providers give students information about our services.
What you can do depends on whether you have a VET Student Loan debt or a VET FEE-HELP debt.
VET Student Loan
If your education provider has closed and you have a complaint about VET Student Loan debt you can make a complaint to our Office.
If you have a complaint about a VET FEE-HELP debt:
- and your education provider is open or available to be contacted, you will need to lodge a complaint with it first. Read our factsheet to find out how to make a complaint with your agency, provider or organisation
- and your education provider has closed, you should make a complaint to the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations because it has the legislated power to decide if a VET FEE-HELP debt can be recredited.