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ASQA and the VET Reform

ASQA and the VET Reform

About This Episode

Over the last 10 years we have experienced massive changes within the training industry. Since the inception of ASQA in 2011, we have experienced the highs and lows of regulation, including the pressure on RTOs with over regulation.

The tides are changing, with ASQA taking a whole new approach to how we are regulated. This has been driven by the Joyce Report from 2019 (a Report on Strengthening the VET sector) and the VET Reform.

Exciting times are ahead. Listen to this Podcast to learn more about the future of ASQA and the VET Sector.

In this episode:

  • VET Reform and the impact on RTOs
  • ASQAs new leadership direction
  • Exciting changes to the training industry and how they will impact you
  • The meaning behind the new ASQA logo
  • Working together with ASQA…

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Vivacity Update – ASQA Audits – May 2019

ASQA Audits… is it a case of being over regulated?

Since ASQA’s inception in 2011 we have experienced a roller coaster ride of changes and challenges to the ASQA Audit model, from the personal interpretation of the legislation by ASQA Auditors, to changes in the way ASQA are regulating through Audits. From our experience, it has never been tougher going to an ASQA Audit compared with the last ten years of our experience we have had servicing the training industry at Vivacity.

Some interesting statistics sourced from www.training.gov.au on 6 May 2019:

  • 1155 RTO registrations have been cancelled (including ASQA cancelling the providers registration and the provider cancelling their own registration) and
  • 163 registrations withdrawn since ASQA took over regulation in July 2011
  • There are currently 3,837 RTOs in Australia, down from over 4,400 RTO’s in October last year.

These statistics do not include RTO’s registered under WA TAC or Vic VRQA.

On 1 May 2018, ASQA announced increased scrutiny on new applications for organisations that wish to deliver VET and/or international education. ASQA’s aim for the additional scrutiny was to ensure that only providers who can demonstrate they are resourced, ready and willing to deliver high-quality training and assessment are registered. Since this announcement, ASQA has received an unusually high number of applications, which has led to delays in ASQA finalising applications. Vivacity has experienced through our clients, that ASQA are taking over a year to process initial applications, which has had an impact on the time frames for additions to scope and re-registrations too.

For the first time ever, Vivacity has had a number of clients who have gone to Tribunal, over what would have been considered minor non-compliance’s in the past and would have been rectified by submitting further evidence to ASQA in previous years.

Recently we had a case whereby a client ended up going to Tribunal over a simple matter that could easily have been resolved if the Auditor had simply picked up the phone or sent an email, instead they undertook the audit with the documentation submitted and deemed the application non-compliant with no opportunity to provide further evidence, except by paying for a Reconsideration application as ASQA have removed the Rectification stage for initial registrations. We submitted a Reconsideration application, which did not go to a site audit, and the client was deemed non-compliant again, which was stated within ASQA’s own report that the non-compliances were minor. Due to the minor non-compliances and the fact that we were not given the opportunity for a site audit, we decided to go to Tribunal. As I stated earlier, this whole case could have been sorted by a simple phone call or an email, which is exactly what the ASQA Solicitor had identified during the mediation session. Following more than a year since submitting their application, we are finally going to a site audit, which is a great outcome except for the fact that our clients, Vivacity and ASQA have wasted more than 12 months in time and expenses that did not need to be incurred when it could have been sorted by a simple phone call.

Last September ASQA released their Annual Report for 2017-2018 (sourced https://www.asqa.gov.au/news-publications/publications/annual-reports2 on 6 May 2019), which addresses ASQA’s purpose and their KPIs against each Purpose. In the report it includes the KPI to “refuse entry or reject renewal applications from existing providers that do not meet the requirements for registration”, even though ASQA have not shared with the RTO community what these stricter requirements are and how we are to address them.

ASQA’s purposeASQA KPIs, more prominent this year than last year, is to close RTO’s down in an effort to “clean” the market up and remove the dodgy operators. Unfortunately, from what we are experiencing, is that in ASQA’s effort to clean the market of dodgy operators, the good operators with limited knowledge or understanding of how to meet the compliance requirements are getting swept up with the dodgy operators.

 

 

Regulatory CancellationsThe Annual Report reveals an alarming increase of cancellations in 2017-18, with the percentage of cancellations higher than in any financial year since 2013–14, we suspect that this percentage will have a dramatic increase in the next report for 2018-19.

 

 

 

 

As you can see from the following table, the percentage of providers who were deemed non-compliant in previous years at the time of being audited has increased extensively over the last five years:

We have heard through our connections that there are a number of RTO’s that intend to take a stand against ASQA through a class action, it will be interesting to see the results of that action and how many RTO’s actually get involved.

We believe that as a collective body, we should unite and be heard, especially considering the legislation is under review and there will be more changes. If you would interested in attending a forum with other RTO and CRICOS Providers to discuss this further, please register your interest by sending an email to enquirenow@vivacity.com.au and provide your name, title, RTO Name and your phone number. If we get enough interest, we will be holding a forum in Sydney and will be in contact.

If you have an ASQA Audit in the next 12 months, we highly recommend that you conduct an internal audit to identify your current compliance risks, so that you don’t become another ASQA statistic. The best way to prepare for an ASQA Audit is to conduct an internal audit and even more so that you get a compliance expert from outside your organisation to conduct the audit, who is not part of your culture and can review your RTO from an unbiased point of view with experience in the current ASQA audit processes.

Vivacity has a special on this week for a one-day SystemsScan or a two-day SystemsCheck, whereby we come into your organisation and conduct a site audit. Call 1300 729 455 for more information.

Auditors Desk – June 2015

Here we are now, six months in from the implementation of the new Standards for RTO’s. Since the beginning of the year we have conducted 17 Mock Audits and attended 12 ASQA Audits, its been a busy year to say the least. The great news is that our policies, procedures and documentation has been 100% compliant at every ASQA Audit this year, which is very exciting for our clients and the Vivacity team. In this edition of the Auditors Desk I thought you would get the most benefit if I provided you with the “Top Six Tips” on what ASQA have been targeting at audit.

Vivacity’s “Top Six Tips”:
1. Assessment Tools – This has always been a high non-compliance area and it continues to be under the new standards. Assessment tools that do not meet the Performance Criteria or the Assessment requirements of the Unit of Competency is where most of the non-compliances have been found this year. The best way to avoid non-compliances in your assessment tools is to validate them before you commence using them, which is not always possible, but a necessity. A common myth is “If we purchase our assessment tools from a Publisher, they should be compliant”, this is not true, even the Publishers tell you in their contracts that it is the RTO’s responsibility to contextualise the tools. Some good publishers, which are the ones we recommend, will guarantee their assessment tools are audit compliant and if they are not compliant at audit they will rectify the tools to meet the audit requirements.
2. Training and Assessment Strategies – The biggest change in the TAS has been Volume of Learning. The TAS should include how you have met the new Volume of Learning requirements, including the required hours for each qualification level (ie Certificate III should be delivered in one year, not the common 10-20 week period that most RTO’s offer). Another important component of the TAS should be the methodology on how you plan to deliver and assess, this should include either a Delivery or Session Plan, that outlines the units you will be delivering and how you will be delivering them. If your plan is not clear, you will be non-compliant.
3. Trainers & Assessors Quals – This is another area that still has high non-compliances. Your Trainers/Assessors must have a minimum of 3 years industry experience (this is not documented anywhere in the Standards, 3 years is based on what we are hearing at audit), not only should they have experience within their industry, they specifically should have experience in each Unit of Competency (UOC) that they deliver. Your Staff Matrix should include all the skills and knowledge that your Trainer/Assessor has that are matched against the Performance Criteria of each UOC, if they do not have this minimum skills and knowledge, find another trainer or develop a Professional Development plan to ensure that they do acquire the skills. A common area of non-compliance is Trainers and Assessors who do not have currency in the VET sector, this is professional development that the Trainer has undertaken to develop their training and assessment skills, such a simple area to fix but so many trainers do not keep their skills and knowledge up to date.
4. Delivery Plans – As stated above, a Delivery Plan or Session Plan should clearly outline to your Trainer and Student how the training will be delivered and assessed, so that it is clear what the trainer is to do and the expectations of the student. It should clearly outline the units you will deliver for the qualification and include all the assessments and a timetable of when the assessments are due.
5. Assessment Validation – With the new Clauses on Assessment Validation (1.9-1.10), a strategy should be in place on how you will manage your Assessment Validation, including a schedule of when you will validate your tools over a 5 year period, which should be validated in order of each units risk rating. You should also have in your strategy Who will be on your Assessment Validation Scheme, specifically that the Assessment Validation team includes qualified and experienced staff who meet the requirements of the Clauses.
6. Complaints & Appeals – The new areas that should be included in your Complaints and Appeals Policy and Procedure (Standard 6) is how will you ensure that a complaint or appeal is acknowledged in writing and meets the Principles of Natural Justice, which basically means that you have a process that ensures that the complaints and appeals process is clear for the student and provides a clear process for students to make a complaint to a third party if your organisational process is not sufficient.

The best way to identify how your RTO meets the requirements of the Standards, is by having someone external from your RTO conduct an Internal Audit, someone who is not part of your culture or organisation, someone who can take an un-biased view or your organisations systems and practices. It is amazing how easy it is for your organisation to become complacent against the standards, particularly when there has been a massive change in the Standards. In the last five years alone there has been 3 changes in legislation, which means that if you last updated your policies and procedures a year ago, they will be non-compliant.