FEE WAIT: Wendy Walters outside the Smart City premises, which went into voluntary administration in 2016.
FEE WAIT: Wendy Walters outside the Smart City premises, which went into voluntary administration in 2016. Mike Knott BUN240117SMART1

Frustration over study fee debacle

IT'S been almost 15 months since SmartCity Vocational College shut its doors in Bundaberg.

It's been 15 months that Wendy Walters has been waiting to be re-credited more than $7000 for a course she never even got to complete.

The Bundaberg woman said she had spent months trying to get answers after the education organisation went into voluntary administration in December of 2016, leaving more than 300 staff across Australia jobless and students in limbo.

Ms Walters had signed up to continue her counselling studies but said on the first day of classes in January 2017, she showed up to the Bundaberg centre only to find the doors locked shut.

"The classes were moved to the Neighbourhood Centre for a short time, with one lecturer doing all of the subjects,” she said.

"After that ceased, I was told communication about issues would be handed over to a company called Australian Council for Private Education and Training.

"In October I had an email to say 'expect a call about being re-credited the debt the classes had acrued'.”

Ms Walters said she, and many other Bundaberg students, had been slugged thousands of dollars in fees for studies that they had not even started or had a chance to finish.

"The fees are added in much the same way as HECS fees for university students,” she said.

"The fee is deducted from our profile when we choose a course or subject before the studies begin and once we earn over a certain amount, we have to pay those fees back.”

Ms Walters said she spent many months trying to contact ACPET about the re-crediting but still had not received any confirmation from them.

"About every month I would send an email - up to seven in total - and I received no response,” she said.

Ms Walters said while she wasn't immediately out of pocket, there was always the uncertainty of whether government changes would affect if and when she would have to pay.

She has taken her concerns to Member for Bundaberg David Batt's office, who confirmed they had been advised by ACPET her application had been processed but could not determine when the re-credit would occur.

The NewsMail contacted ACPET and a spokesman said the company was working with Ms Walters and the Commonwealth Government.