23 October 2014
Ministers at the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Industry and Skills Council on 26 September 2014 agreed to new regulatory Standards for training providers and regulators. Industry minister Ian Macfarlane signed off on the new standards on 20 October.
The government says the new Standards represent another important step towards an effective risk-based regulatory system and introduce important changes that strengthen industry engagement, improve the quality of training and reduce the regulatory burden on training providers.
The new Standards also increase protections for students who want to undertake nationally recognised training and strengthen the requirements for the delivery of training and assessment qualifications – qualifications which underpin the overall quality of training delivered in the VET system.
The new Standards will come into effect from 1 January 2015 and transition arrangements will apply.
In implementing the new Standards, ASQA is to develop and publish a users’ guide to the new Standards; undertake a series of information sessions across Australia, which will include detailed information on the new Standards; and publish information and guidance on the process of transitioning to the new Standards.
The following useful summary of key changes was prepared by Joe Newbery of Newbery Consulting and is reprinted with permission.
RTOs will require all for items on its scope of registration to have sufficient trainers and assessors, student support services, learning materials and facilities. This may sound like an obvious requirement but the fact is that many RTOs have items on their scope where they do not actively maintain learning materials the course they may not be delivering those qualifications. This will require them to revisit their scope of registration and make a decision to remove items or appropriately resource them. It’s interesting that in standard 1.3 it does not specify the requirement for the RTO to have available assessment resources.
This requires the RTO to have an established plan for the conduct of systematic validation of assessment that specifies who, what, where, when and how this will occur. Quite a detailed requirement.
Requires the RTO to validate training products (assessments) at least once every five years, with at least 50% of products validated within the first three years of each five year cycle.
This requires the assessment validation conducted by the RTO to be undertaken by person who is not directly involved in the particular instance of delivery and assessment of the training product being validated. This is a sensible outcome. The draft standards specified a requirement for assessment validation to be undertaken by an external person which I certainly thought was over the top and would have just resulted in additional costs for RTOs and a loss of ownership of the assessment validation process. This requirement will however still present as a challenge for very small RTO’s.
Trainers and assessors are required to have either the TAE40110 Certificate IV in Training and Assessment or a Diploma or higher level qualification in adult education. The second option certainly opens up many options for trainers and assessors to demonstrate their competency and removes the focus from the lower level TAE40110 which is great.
Requires that from 1st January 2017 that trainers and assessors delivering training and assessment in TAE40110 Certificate IV in Training and Assessment must hold one of the following qualifications:
a) TAE50111 Diploma of Vocational Education and Training
b) TAE50211 Diploma of Training Design and Development
c) A higher level qualification in adult education.
This standard requires RTOs who are delivering skill sets or qualifications from the Training and Education Training Package, from 1st January 2016 to undertake independent validation of the conduct of assessment, assessment systems and assessment resources. This independent validation must be undertaken by person or organisation who is not employed or subcontracted by the RTO to provide training and assessment and has no other involvement or interest in the operations of the RTO. This appears to be a sensible requirement. I would think regulating the independence of the validator will be fairly difficult. The standard also does not provide a frequency for the occurrence of the validation. Is it an annual requirement or does it only need to occur once?
Standards 2.1 – 2.4.
These standards specify an enhanced compliance requirement for RTOs who are engaged in partnership arrangements where other organisations are delivering training and assessment on their behalf. I think this could have even gone further however it is an improvement on the previous standard which was grossly inadequate. If you are delivering under a partnership arrangement this is a must read.
Requires an RTO to issue qualifications or statements of attainment to those students who have achieved the required outcomes within 30 days of the final assessment being completed. It does include the proviso that all fees owed to the RTO must be paid prior to certificates being issue.
Specifies the minimum information requirements and disclosures that an RTO must now provide to prospective students prior to their enrolment. These requirements are all common sense and if you are applying accurate and ethical marketing prior to the new standards, there really is nothing new.
Standards 5.1 – 5.4.
These standards provide a significantly enhanced requirement for RTO’s to inform students prior to their commencement of their rights and obligations. This has always been a requirement however these new standards are much more specific and RTOs will need to actively review their pre-enrolment information to ensure they are covering off with every dot point.
Standards 6.1 – 6.5.
These standards provide new specific requirements for the handling of complaints and appeals. This includes a requirement for policy that addresses complaints and appeals in relation to third-party organisations who are providing services to the RTO. The policies must be publicly available and there is a specific requirement for the RTO to provide a mechanism for review by an independent party where complaints or appeals remain unresolved. The RTO must also resolve complaints or appeals within 60 days or inform the complainant or appellant in writing of the reasons why more than 60 calendar days is required.
This standard increases the minimum amount of money that can be paid by student prior to their commencement to $1500. This if the RTO wants to collect more than this amount from the student prior to their commencement they must hold an unconditional financial guarantee or a membership of a Tuition Assurance Scheme. This is a fairly sensible outcome and certainly one that most small RTOs can work with.
This standard specifies the requirement for an RTO to inform the regulator within 30 days of an agreement taking effect which involves training and assessment being delivered on behalf of the RTO. This is not really a new requirement but does put a time frame around the RTOs obligations to report the change in circumstances.
This standard requires the RTO to provide the regulator with an annual declaration that confirms the RTO’s compliance with the standards. The declaration includes the RTO giving an undertaking that outcomes it has issued to students over the previous 12 months meet the requirements of the training package and comply with the RTO standards. It will be interesting to see the effect of this requirement. It may give pause to some providers who are conveniently turning a blind eye to poor quality in favour of increased revenue.