The Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) has increased their scrutiny on new applications for registration from 1 July 2018.
ASQA has implemented stronger controls on new training providers entering the market. Subsequently, there has been a change to the process of submitting new applications and new requirements are now in place for all new applications.
Why have these changes come about?
ASQA’s intention is that the changes to the application process for initial registration will help people who are considering entering the VET or international training market to determine whether they have the resources and skills necessary to seek registration. This is aimed at increasing the quality of training providers and ensuring that they are financially viable and fully equipped to provide the training for the scope of registration they intend on applying for.
In recent years, there has been a surge of ‘non-genuine’ providers (shell companies or ‘cookie cutter applications’) and applicants who apply for a small initial scope of registration and then drastically change their business plan once they are registered. ASQA has also found there are a number of RTOs who do not deliver training after they become registered and ASQA has been consistently processing a volume of initial applications which has been a burden on their resources.
As the national regulator for Australia’s vocational education and training sector, ASQA now requires an applicant to be completely prepared to operate their RTO including all necessary resources i.e. training locations, staff, equipment and training and assessment resources, to be in place at the time they submit their application and provide evidence of this upon submission.
A summary of the main changes for new applications:
- Applicants are now required to submit more extensive financial viability data and greater disclosure on the backgrounds of people associated with the organisation
- Applicants are required to complete a comprehensive self-assessment and upload supporting evidence
- There are no opportunities to make changes to any submitted applications (i.e. venues or staff)
- No opportunity for rectifications to correct non-compliances prior to a decision being made on the application
- The registration period will generally be for two years initially (this was previously seven)
- Most evidence will be submitted at the application stage instead of presented at audit (a desk audit will be undertaken by ASQA initially and then a site audit will take place to verify the information presented at time of application).
Post registration changes
New providers will now only receive a registration period of two years and instead of a post initial audit being conducted, new providers will have to make an application for renewal after that period and undergo a re-registration audit. If an RTO has not been delivering any training during that two-year period, their application will be rejected.
Providers who apply to change their scope of registration during that two-year period will be required to resubmit financial viability documentation i.e. business plan, underlying assumptions and bank statements, demonstrating that they are fully resourced to deliver the scope they are applying for. Their application will undergo a desk audit of the evidence presented with their application. Additional scrutiny will apply to all providers in the first two years of registration for scope amendments and additional registrations e.g. CRICOS registration.
What does this mean for existing RTOs?
If you are an existing RTO, these changes will not affect you unless you apply for an additional registration e.g. CRICOS or ELICOS.
What does this mean for people thinking about setting up an RTO?
If you are thinking about applying for registration with ASQA as an RTO, your application will be more heavily scrutinised than it would have been in the past. This will require more planning and you will need to demonstrate to ASQA your prior history in the VET Sector and the compliance capacity of your team. This could mean appointing a compliance manager, RTO operations manager or upskilling the CEO in VET by undertaking relevant professional development (http://rtoleadership.com.au/).
What does it mean that there is now no opportunity for rectification?
ASQA’s new revised assessment process means that one step in the process has now been removed. Previously, an applicant was provided an opportunity to respond to any non-compliances found at audit by making rectifications. The applicant was usually given 20 business days to demonstrate that they had addressed any non-compliances and resubmit their evidence. Now, a decision will be made after the audit and there is no opportunity to rectify anything once the audit has occurred. If a non-compliance is identified at audit, one of three things will happen:
- Your registration is granted, and a written direction will be provided (this is only for minor non-compliances and you will be expected to demonstrate at your re-registration audit that you implemented the changes immediately)
- Your registration is not granted but ASQA will allow you an opportunity to apply for reconsideration (an additional application fee will be required)
- Your registration is not granted and no opportunity for reconsideration is provided (your only appeal option is via the Administrative Appeals Tribunals (AAT).
Get in touch
According to a recent ASQA VET Sector Consultant & RTO Advisor Briefing held on the 12th of June 2018, over the past four or five years there has been around 75 – 80% non-compliance at audit. Major non-compliances were around Standard 1, but after presenting rectifications, 70 – 80% of applicants were found to be compliant. Now that an opportunity for rectifications is no longer part of the process, it is crucial that your application is of the highest quality.
If you are thinking about setting up an RTO, or are in the process of preparing your application, contact us for a complimentary phone consultation with one of our RTO quality consultants to discuss how we can assist you. RTO Advice Group has been operating in the industry since 2009, with the right level of expertise, credibility and know how to get you set up as a quality provider of vocational education and training and have a wealth of experience in navigating the ever-changing landscape of VET.