2. Newly approved providers – the next steps

2.1 - Higher Education Provider requirements pack

The newly approved provider is sent a Higher Education Provider (HEP) requirements pack, which contains administrative information to assist it in operating as a provider. This pack also contains a number of forms and templates that must be completed and returned to the department as soon as possible. The newly approved provider must promptly complete and return:

  • Vendor supplier form; and
  • a Statement of Compliance.

The department contacts the newly approved provider to arrange training in administering FEE‑HELP. Attending training is strongly recommended prior to offering FEE-HELP to eligible students. Training is delivered in components, including operational training and training for data reporting.

Newly approved providers are reminded that, post approval, they must give any students who meet the FEE‑HELP requirements the option of using a HELP loan to pay their tuition fees for any eligible courses. This also applies to existing students who may have commenced their course prior to approval, for subsequent units contributing to their course.

FEE-HELP must be made available to eligible students in all higher education courses providers deliver or intend to deliver. Accordingly, tuition assurance must be in place for these courses of study. Further information regarding courses that meet the legislative requirements will be provided at the training sessions.

Providers can ask questions about how to make FEE-HELP available to existing/continuing students by emailing FEE-HELP@dese.gov.au.

2.2 - Transitioning continuing students to FEE-HELP

FEE-HELP must be made available to all continuing students who meet the requirements to access FEE-HELP see part 31.4 for units they are yet to undertake, provided the provider is approved to deliver FEE-HELP courses.

Access to FEE‑HELP cannot be backdated for continuing students. Continuing students are not entitled to access FEE-HELP for any units of study undertaken prior to the provider being approved. Students who commenced their course prior to the provider approval are only entitled to FEE‑HELP assistance for any units of study that have not yet been delivered by the provider. The start date of a unit of study for which a student is accessing FEE-HELP cannot precede the date of the provider’s approval.

Any units of study already delivered prior to the provider’s approval cannot be deferred under FEE‑HELP.

In developing units of study for continuing students, providers should be mindful of any tuition fees already paid. Some continuing students may have paid tuition fees in full in advance through deposits, or via periodic payment plans.

Where the continuing student previously made up-front payments for their units of study that:

  • covered all of the tuition fees that were required prior to approval – no action is required by the provider
  • did not fully cover all of the tuition fees that were required prior to approval – HESA does not provide for this fee to be recovered by the student. FEE-HELP approval cannot be backdated to allow students to defer the remaining tuition fee for those units of study with a start date before approval; and
  • exceeded the tuition fees that were required prior to approval – the provider may apply the excess payments to cover all or part of the remaining units of study. Providers must discuss this action with students and obtain their agreement before applying the excess payments in this way.

A student may defer the entire tuition fee for a unit of study under FEE-HELP if the start date of the unit of study is after the provider’s approval date, at which point, a provider should consider returning that upfront payment if requested by the student. This decision will be based on arrangements the provider has in place for refunding payments.

A student is able to withdraw from a unit of study on or before the census date. Provided the student is no longer enrolled in the unit of study at the end of the census date, the provider must repay to a person any payment of the student’s student contribution amount or tuition fee for a unit of study that the person made on or before the census date for the unit [HESA subsection 169-15(3)]. This would include any deposits or payments made by the continuing student that have been attributed to the unit of study. A provider’s business processes must support these requirements, and not present financial, administrative or other barriers to students wanting to withdraw from a unit of study.

2.3 - Number of units comprising a course

There is no limit on the number of units of study a provider may determine as comprising a course of study, except that a course of study must be comprised of at least one unit of study.

2.4 - Contact for FEE-HELP assistance

New providers can obtain advice about whether their plans for transitioning continuing students meet HESA requirements by emailing FEE-HELP@dese.gov.au