Reviewable decisions under VET Student Loans

Version 1.1 | 02/07/2018

This information applies to students with a VET Student Loan (VSL).

Certain decisions in the VET Student Loans Act (‘the Act’) are ‘reviewable decisions’. This means an affected person may request the decision maker to review the decision and apply to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) for a review of the reconsidered decision. These decisions are set out at section 74 and are:

  • where the Secretary is the decision maker:
    • under section 18 – a decision to approve or not approve a VET student loan
    • under section 36 – a decision to revoke the approval of an approved course provider
    • under section 68 – a decision not to re-credit a student’s FEE-HELP balance for special circumstances
    • under section 71 – a decision to or not to re-credit a student’s FEE-HELP balance for unacceptable conduct
  • where we are the decision maker:
    • under section 68 – a decision not to re-credit a student’s FEE-HELP balance for special circumstances.

Where a decision is not a reviewable decision under the Act, the decision maker may still reconsider the decision if satisfied there is sufficient reasons to do so.

Provider decisions regarding re-crediting a student’s FEE-HELP balance

A decision by us not to re-credit a person’s FEE-HELP balance is reviewable [Act s 74]. A review of a decision may be requested by the person affected by the original decision [Act s 76], or without a request if we are satisfied there is sufficient reason to do so [Act s 77].

We will appoint a review officer to reconsider reviewable decisions made by us. The review officer is appointed by the chief executive officer of the provider or a delegate of the chief executive officer. The review officer must not review a decision they were involved in making and must occupy a position that is not lower than that occupied by the person who made the original decision [Act s 79].

Each application will be examined and determined on its merits. We will consider the person’s claims, together with any independent supporting documentary evidence that substantiates these claims.

Review by review officer

The review officer will reconsider the decision and either [Act s 76(4)]:

  • confirm the decision; or
  • vary the decision; or
  • set the decision aside and substitute a new decision.

The review officer will provide written notice of the decision and provide a statement of the reasons for making the decision [Act s 76(5) and (6)]. The review officer will advise, in the notice, of the person’s right to appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) for a review of the reviewer’s decision if the person is unsatisfied with the outcome [Administrative Appeals Tribunal Act 1975 s 27A].

If the reviewer does not give the person a notice of the decision within 45 days after receiving the person’s request, it is taken that the reviewer has confirmed the original decision [Act s 76(8)].

Applications outside the time-period

In circumstances where an application for review is made outside the application period (that is, 28 days after the person was notified of the decision), and the provider has not extended this time, the person should be advised the application has been refused on the basis the person is out of time. In these circumstances, it is not necessary for the provider to address whether the special circumstances test has been satisfied.

Review by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal

A person may apply to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) for review of a review officer’s decision and may supply additional information to the AAT they did not previously supply to the provider, including the review officer.

The department will receive notification from the AAT that a person has lodged an application for a review of a review officer’s decision. The department is the respondent for cases that are before the AAT.

Once the department has received notification from the AAT that the person has applied for the reconsideration under section 37 of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal Act 1975, the department must lodge the following documents with the AAT within 28 days:

  • a statement setting out the findings on material questions of fact, referring to the evidence or other material on which those findings were based and giving the reasons for the decision, and
  • every document or part of a document that is in the reviewer’s possession or under the reviewer’s control and is considered by the reviewer to be relevant to the review of the decision by the AAT.

The department will notify the provider, in writing, that an appeal has been lodged. To enable the department to meet the 28-day time-frame, the provider must, within a further 5 business days of being requested, provide the department with copies of all the documents it holds that are relevant to the appeal. These documents should be sent by courier or express post to meet the 5-business day requirement. The provider should keep any originals and copies of the documents in line with its normal recording keeping practices.

Once the documents are received, the department may choose to review the original decision.

The provider’s review officer may also reconsider the decision even though an appeal has been made to the AAT at any time up until the AAT makes a final decision. If a decision is made to re-credit a person’s FEE-HELP balance the provider must advise the department.

However, until a person withdraws their AAT appeal or the appeal is dismissed or otherwise dealt with by the AAT, the department is still required to comply with the requirement under section 37 of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal Act 1975 to lodge the statement, and relevant documents described in the two dot points above, with the AAT. Therefore, the provider must still forward all relevant documents to the department within 5 business days, unless advised not to do so by the department. The department will deal with cases from that point and advise the provider of the outcome.

Treatment of students seeking review

We will ensure that a student is not victimised or discriminated against for:

  • seeking a review or reconsideration of a decision;
  • using the provider grievance processes or procedures; or
  • making an application for re-crediting the student’s FEE-HELP balance [Rules s 90].

 

This information has been supplied by the Department of Education and Training and has been customised to our context. To remove any doubt – where information on this page is superseded or otherwise in direct conflict with specific information published by the department, the current published information by the department takes precedence and is to be relied upon. Additional policy and procedural information we have added to this information stands alone and is to be applied as stated in this policy.