The future of financial support for acting students at ACA

Sudden changes to VET FEE-HELP in 2016 have led to new collaboration between Torrens University Australia and Actors Centre Australia.
The future of financial support for acting students at ACA

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When 57 creative courses suddenly become ineligible for financial support in 2016 due to changes to the VET FEE-HELP scheme, many students were left wondering how they could afford to continue their studies. 

‘Without any consultation with the sector, [the cuts] gutted opportunity for thousands of young people looking to learn their trade,’ said Dean Carey, CEO, Founder and Director of Actors Centre Australia (ACA) Sydney.

‘The real effects of this won’t be felt in this country for a few years but when it hits it will hit hard, and Australia simply will not have nearly enough skilled workers to match business and industry growth. Let alone the closure of hundreds of rural education centres, cutting off hundreds of thousands of people right across Australia from education access.’

While not every student at ACA relied on the scheme, many were affected by the changes to their financial situation. The impact was felt by education institutions across Australia, including ACA, which has been in operation for over 30 years.

‘Being in a country where education is available to all, and not dependent upon a flawed, user-pays only system, is probably one of the most important things in terms of the growth of that country and the development of its society: equitable, supportive, diverse, inclusive, and hopefully, inspiring,’ said Carey.

New partnership with Torrens University

Following the cuts, ACA immediately began to look into other financial solutions for its current and future students. As of 2019, ACA has become a Higher Education Provider by partnering with Torrens University Australia. 

Thanks to this partnership, the institution now delivers a Bachelor of Performing Arts (Stage and Screen) degree program. This means that students enrolling in the Bachelor Degree at ACA will be eligible to apply for financial support for their studies through FEE-HELP.

‘Torrens is an extremely creative and dynamic university and what we can achieve together is extremely exciting,’ said Carey.

‘Knowing we can attract a more diverse student population because the financial support is now in place is incredibly important. Knowing we can expand our education to an international market and bring a range of cultures to ACA is incredibly exciting. Knowing that art will never cease to amaze and inspire, to shake us to our very foundation, and to continually remind us of all we’re capable of – the great, shameful, catastrophic and enlightened —  fascinates me and always has. The next few years will see ACA spread its wings like never before.’  

To find out more about the new Bachelor of Performing Arts (Stage and Screen) at ACA, visit


Brooke Boland

Tuesday 2 April, 2019

About the author

Brooke Boland is a freelance writer based on the South Coast of NSW. She has a PhD in literature from the University of NSW. You can find her on Instagram @southcoastwriter.