Sweeping VET deregulation

12 September 2014

“ASQA should be a regulator, not a book keeper”

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Industry minister Ian Macfarlane has announced sweeping deregulation of the vocational education and training (VET) sector with “high performing” VET providers delegated the authority to manage their own scope of registration and no longer needing the regulator’s permission to change courses or introduce new ones.

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Under the proposed changes, registered training organisations (RTOs)  can apply to the Australian Skills Standards Agency (ASQA) for a delegation to manage their scope allowing MacFarlaneRTOs to “get on with what they do best — delivering the high calibre training that meets industry and economy needs”.   Macfarlane told a national VET conference that “quality training speaks for itself”:

In … a highly competitive environment, the best way to ensure an RTO delivers high quality training is to let it stand on its reputation – not fill out reams and reams of paperwork and jump through endless hoops.

Delegation conditions are likely to require an RTO to have:

  • been registered for at least five years (meaning they have gone through at least one re-registration process);
  • been found to be fully compliant in an audit (no rectification process required); and
  • a demonstrated and documented quality assurance system in place to manage VET regulatory functions and obligations.

ASQA’s regulatory role will focus on dealing with “rogue operators” and providing education and guidance to ensure “voluntary compliance” with VET standards by RTOs.  ASQA will no longer transition to a full cost recovery model as had been planned and its fees will remain unchanged in 2014-15.

The government also proposes to crack down on “unscrupulous or misleading behaviour by brokers who act as an intermediary between students and training providers”.  As a first step, new standards to apply from 1 January 2015 will make RTOs responsible for the behaviour of any brokers subcontracted by them. This will enable ASQA will be able to take regulatory action against an RTO using a broker, if the broker is breaching these standards.

At the end of the current contract period with the 12 Industry Skills Councils (ISCs), from 1 July 2015, the government will move to a more contestable model for the development and maintenance of training packages, with development put out to tender, open to ISCs and other organisations.

The government will also undertake a review of training products in the VET system to ensure they are “fit for purpose”.  The government is apparently considering funding of “skills sets”, as well as full qualifications.

See
Address to the National VET Conference
A new approach to the development of training packages
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