Another private education provider has found that cheating students to maximize profits

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The Federal Court found on July 2 that the private educational institution Captain Cook College had engaged in unreasonable systemic behavior to maximize the profits of vulnerable and disadvantaged students, the majority of whom had not completed any part of their course. .

Productivity Partners Pty Ltd, operating as Captain Cook College, offered degree courses funded by government VET FEE-HELP loans at the Sydney and Brisbane campuses.

The college recruited students outside of Centrelink’s offices on the false premise that they would receive a free laptop and class that they wouldn’t have to pay back.

Recruiters targeted the illiterate, the elderly and people with intellectual disabilities for courses they weren’t likely to complete or benefit from, putting them into large student loan debts. Several other private colleges have been found using these recruiting tactics, with some students saying they only enrolled because they felt harassed.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) watchdog body initiated legal action against the private college in November 2018, alleging it had engaged in deceptive behavior since September 2015, when ‘it had removed consumer guarantees from its sign-up and opt-out processes in order to improve its financial performance.

“More than 90 percent of affected consumers have not completed any part of their online course, and around 86 percent of them have never even logged into their course,” said ACCC President, Rod Sims.

“Captain Cook College engaged in blatant conduct which sought to maximize profits at the expense of indebted students and at the expense of the Commonwealth.”

Captain Cook College has claimed $ 50 million over three months under the VET FEE-HELP program for around 6,000 consumers, making it one of many private colleges that have corrupted the system.

“This finding is a symptom of the for-profit higher education system, where students are treated only as consumers, and private providers are able to take an unfair share of the money that would be better spent by providers. ‘public education,’ National Union of Students said President Zoe Ranganathan.

This is the fifth ACCC action in which the Court has found that a VET provider FEE-HELP has made misleading representations to exploit students. He has already taken action against Unique International College, Cornerstone Investment Aust Pty Ltd (trader under the name Empower Institute), Australian Institute of Professional Education and Acquire Learning.

VET FEE-HELP was introduced in 2007 by the Howard government as a HECS-type loan program to encourage vocational training. It closed for new students at the end of 2016, replaced by VET student loans.


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