Minister urges parents to get smart on tutoring products


FT minister an dmohan dhall


Dr Geoff Lee,  Member for Parramatta with Mohan Dhall, CEO ATA and  Fair Trading Minister Stuart Ayres

Parents pay thousands of dollars on tutoring as they believe that the children will perform better and score high ATAR rank in their HSC. Little do they realise that there can be lots potential pitfalls if they have not checked the credentials of tutoring products and services.

Fair Trading Minister Stuart Ayres said that the Australian Tutoring Association got 18 complaints involving the tutoring industry were received by the agency in 2013.

“While this is not a large figure, disputes involving tutors and tutoring products can be costly,” he said.

“In families with non-English speaking backgrounds tutoring products can be in high demand, yet it is often non-English speaking communities that are most reluctant to lodge formal complaints with consumer protection agencies when things go wrong.”

“We found that if people were not happy they moved their child to a different coaching college but did not complain which they should,” said Mr Ayres.

Mr Ayres said tutoring businesses were required under the Australian Consumer Law to substantiate any claims they make on websites, in advertisements or verbally.

“Testimonials must be genuine and Fair Trading will issue substantiation notices to any tutoring business believed to be using fake customer testimonials or making unrealistic guarantees of academic success,” he said.

“Companies found to be engaged in false and misleading representation face fines of up to

$1.1 million, while individuals face fines of up to $220,000.”

Mr Ayres said consumers should also be wary of tutoring businesses selling products door-to-door. “Such businesses are not permitted to take any payments within a 10 day cooling-off period and must abide by termination requirements,” he said.

“Under the ACL, fines of up to $50,000 for a company and $10,000 for an individual apply to those who fail to observe this cooling-off provision.”

Mr Ayres said consumers should be fully informed about cancellation and refund conditions, as well as the total cost of services, before signing any contract.

“When considering buying tutoring services or products from overseas or interstate institutions over the internet, exceptional caution should be exercised,” he said.

“Not all tutoring products may be relevant to requirements of the NSW Board of Studies or the Australian national curricula.

“It is also important to check software compatibility and internet connection capacity before purchasing any computer-based tutoring products.”

The CEO of the Australian Tutoring Association, Mohan Dhall, said reputable tutoring colleges were members of the association, which prohibits deceptive practices and high pressure selling.

“One of the big issues for us at present is that of accreditation,” Mr Dhall said.

“The ATA has developed a national accreditation with its accreditation partner Accredited

Tutor. This body also does national background police checks on tutors.

“The Association supports the accreditation of all tutors. Accreditation helps consumers have confidence in the standard of tuition and the standard of training of tutors.”

Mr Dhall said parents should ask whether the tutors they hire are members of the ATA and if they are accredited.

“In this way they can protect their interests as consumers and have confidence in the fact the tutor they have engaged will abide by the ATA’s code of conduct.”

Under the ATA’s code of conduct, all members must:

1. Have a refund policy

2. Fully disclose staff qualifications

3. Accurately report on students’ progress and avoid creating dependencies

4. Interview prospective staff face-to-face and in person, including interstate staff

5. Refuse to do the work for the student

6. Disclose the form(s) of testing used when assessing students

7. Disclose the relationship between any programs of study and the curriculum offered by the NSW Board of Studies

8. Have a written grievance procedure available for parents in the event of any dispute.

The Fair Trading Tutoring tips for parents fact sheet can be downloaded from the Fair Trading website. It is also available in Hindi along with the ATA Code of Conduct.

For more information about Fair Trading go to:


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