To access Commonwealth assistance (either a Commonwealth supported place or a HELP loan), students must be enrolled with an eligible Australian education provider. Eligible providers are categorised as universities, approved private higher education providers, Open Universities Australia (OUA) or an approved VET Student Loans provider.
In Australia, there are public and private universities. These universities are self‑accrediting institutions. This means that they are responsible for determining the curriculum and content for the courses they offer.
Most domestic students undertaking a bachelor degree at a public university are enrolled in a Commonwealth supported place (CSP) and pay 'student contributions' rather than tuition fees.
Private universities mainly offer fee paying places and must be approved by the Australian Government to offer Commonwealth supported places in 'national priority' areas.
Eligible students studying in a CSP may be able to study now and pay later by using a HECS‑HELP loan to pay their student contributions.
Eligible fee paying students can also study now and pay later by using a FEE‑HELP loan to pay their tuition fees..
Approved private higher education providers
These are generally privately funded, non‑university higher education providers which offer a range of fee paying courses leading to a higher education award course (generally at the bachelor degree level and above). These private higher education providers have been approved by the Australian Government to offer FEE‑HELP loans to eligible students.
Only a few of these providers have been approved by the Australian Government to offer Commonwealth supported places in 'national priority' areas.
Open Universities Australia (OUA)
OUA provides distance education to tertiary students. OUA is owned and operated by a consortium of Australian universities and offers tertiary students a chance to undertake higher education study regardless of their ATAR, previous education, age or location.
FEE‑HELP loans are available to eligible students for both undergraduate and postgraduate units of study undertaken through OUA.
Approved VET Providers
A list of VET Student Loans (VSL) providers and the VET Student Loans approved course list is available on the Education website. Students can also search for approved VSL providers and courses on the My Skills wesbite. The VET FEE-HELP scheme closed to new students on 31 December 2016, but provisional arrangements have allowed some providers to train out any existing students accessing VET FEE-HELP. Information on current arrangements for students continuing study under VET FEE-HELP is available on the Education website.