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ACPET clears Evocca – with conditions

ACPET | 29 April  2015

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Following allegations about Evocca College on the ABC 7.30 program in early March, the Australian Council for Private Education and Training (ACPET), the peak body for the private training sector, formally asked Evocca College to provide evidence against the allegations that had been made and issued a show cause letter as to why Evocca’s membership of ACPET should not be terminated.  The threat of termination has now been withdrawn in the light of Evocca’s “detailed responses to ACPET’s concerns” which ACPET says showed that there is no evidence that Evocca acted contrary to legislation or policy.  However, Evocca has been required to provide undertakings to improve its practices and quality oversight processes.

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Admission to and ongoing membership of ACPET requires members to comply with ACPET’s Constitution, By-Laws and Code of Ethics.

ACPET issued a Show Cause notice to Evocca College (‘Evocca’) on 4 March 2015 as to why, in light of damaging press reports, concerns from other ACPET members and some former Evocca staff and students, its membership of ACPET should not be terminated.

Through the Show Cause process Evocca provided detailed responses to address ACPET’s concerns. There was no evidence provided that Evocca acted contrary to legislation or Government policy.

However, Evocca acknowledges that the on-going speculation and reporting involving it has undermined confidence in the sector and the ACPET membership. It is imperative that there be public and Government trust and confidence in the private education sector and in particular in the ACPET membership.

Evocca takes responsibility for its own actions and will take every reasonable measure to play its part to restore and maintain trust and confidence.

While ACPET was prepared to terminate Evocca’s membership, this action has been withdrawn based on Evocca agreeing to the following undertakings:

1. Evocca will demonstrate to ASQA’s satisfaction compliance in any investigation and audit
2. Evocca has established an Academic Governance Board and will appoint two independent experts to sit on this Board and an independent Chair being appointed within 6 months. This structure is to separate the academic decision making process from the commercial aspects of Evocca’s operations.
3. Consistent with the revised VET FEE Help requirements and ACPET’s Code of Ethics, Evocca has removed all references to “free iPads/computers *conditions apply” or similar.
4. Evocca will commission, by 9 June 2015, a comprehensive independent review by a reputable advisory practice agreeable to ACPET, with the view to identifying and implementing strategies, including through direct engagement with students, that are directed to:

1. the better support of its students;
2. reducing the attrition rates of online/distance education students and improvement in the completion rates of students;
3. improving protection for students from incurring unwarranted debt;
4. students only being enrolled in courses appropriate to their abilities, or being offered alternative pathways, and
5. improvements in the effectiveness of pre-enrolment testing in assessing a student’s academic capacity to complete their qualification.

The outcomes/recommendations of the review will be made available to ACPET by 27 October 2015.
The determination of the Board is subject to review at any time should Evocca fail to comply with its undertakings or should information be received by ACPET requiring further investigation as to whether there has been a breach of the conditions of membership.

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