Changes to the National Vocational Education and Training Regulator Act

Changes to the National Vocational Education and Training Regulator Act
From 1 July 2020, key changes to the requirements for RTOs include: more opportunity to provide ASQA with a remedy for non-compliance and in turn, ASQA will consult with the sector on their approach to undertakings to remedy; ASQA may request information to be provided by RTOs by email or in a particular electronic file format; ASQA can now cancel a VET qualification or statement of attainment without first directing the RTO to do so; ASQA can now instruct that VET student records be provided in a specified electronic format by RTOs.


AISC update for RTOs: delivery of first aid training

The Australian Industry and Skills Committee (AISC) COVID-19 Emergency Response Sub-Committee has provided further advice regarding information and regulatory requirements for delivery of First Aid Training during the COVID-19 pandemic.  RTOs with first aid units of competency on their scope of registration should refer to this guidance and implement adjustments to training and assessment as advised by ASIC.

Coronavirus advice for RTOs

Coronavirus advice for RTOs

The Department of Education has shared a notice from the Department of Health for vocational education and training providers regarding the coronavirus situation.

If a student or staff member has been informed by health authorities that they are a close contact of a confirmed case of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) and have developed symptoms, they are advised to contact their local Public Health unit for assessment.

They cannot attend their vocational education facility until Public Health informs them that it is safe for them to do so. If they have not developed symptoms, they should monitor their health closely but should not be excluded from attending their vocational education facility.

If a student or staff member has a recent travel history to mainland China and develops symptoms, they should contact their primary care provider. Their primary care provider will liaise with Public Health units and determine whether or not the student/staff member needs to be excluded from their vocational education facility.

If a student or staff member has travelled to mainland China and has not developed any of the symptoms, they may attend their vocational education facility and should not be excluded.

To read the advice in full, download the document here.



$26.5M Fine For Poor Quality Provider

Summary —

The Federal Court has ordered $26.5 million in penalties against Cornerstone Investments Aust Pty Ltd, trading as Empower Institute (in liquidation), and ordered Empower to repay more than $56 million to the Commonwealth for funding it had received to provide the courses.

Key Issues —

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has successfully taken action against Empower Institute in the Federal Court, that saw an order for $26.5 million in penalties and an order to repay more than $56 million to the Commonwealth for funding it had received to provide the courses.

The Federal Court found that Empower had engaged in a system of unconscionable conduct when it enrolled consumers in VET FEE-HELP funded courses. The court found the organisation did so by marketing courses to consumers in remote communities, indigenous communities and low socio-economic areas, making false or misleading representations, using recruiters who were practically untrained and, in some cases, offering inducements such as free Google Chromebooks.

Between June 2014 and December 2014, Empower enrolled more than 4,000 students. It ceased trading and in April 2017 and entered into voluntary liquidation.

The Court described Empower’s conduct as involving a “callous indifference” to consumer protection, including signing up consumers for courses which meant they took on large VET-FEE HELP debts, for Empower’s financial gain.

The VET FEE-HELP program was poorly designed and the Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia (ITECA) had counselled the Australian Government about the risks to students, taxpayer funds and the reputation of the vocational education and training (VET) system.

Since the closure of the VET FEE-HELP program ITECA has worked collaboratively with the Australian Government to ensure a student-centric approach to funding and loan programs.

Based on the Court’s findings and using the new VET FEE-HELP Student Redress measures, the Commonwealth has decided to cancel the debts of over 6,000 consumers enrolled in courses with Empower in 2014 and 2015.

Member Engagement:

ITECA’s ability to play a lead role in matters associated with this issue rests on the advice and guidance of individuals serving on the ITECA Vocational Education Reference Committee.

Further Information:

For more information on this issue please send an email to or telephone 1300 421 017.  Stay up to date via Twitter @ITECAust or via Facebook at


Call for unity to fix vocational education

An inquiry found the vocational education system is too complex for students to navigate.
An inquiry found the vocational education system is too complex for students to navigate.

Desperately-needed reform of Australia’s vocational education and training sector can only occur if state and territory governments put political differences aside, federal Employment Minister Michaelia Cash has declared.

Senator Cash is urging the states and territories to work with the federal government on changes, after a recent review identified a spate of challenges in the VET sector.

The inquiry by former New Zealand tertiary education minister Steven Joyce found confidence in the sector is declining and that outcomes are inconsistent and not aligned with industry needs.

It also found the system is too complex for students to navigate.

“There is no question that we need to continue our path of reform,” Senator Cash said on Wednesday.

“But meaningful change cannot be achieved without the states and territories joining us on this journey.

“Agreement has never been achieved through antagonism. It’s time to put aside political differences and end the blame-shifting and find common ground.”

The encouragement comes before premiers and chief ministers meet Prime Minister Scott Morrison in Cairns on Friday for the latest Council of Australian Governments meeting.

Government funding in the VET sector has also been declining, with the Commonwealth chipping in 12 per cent less between 2011/12 and 2017/18.

That drop can be largely attributed to reductions in incentives in 2012/13 which weren’t improving skills outcomes, a clean-up of the VET fee-help scheme from 2016/17, and decreases in payments to states under a series of skills agreements.

States and territories invested 22 per cent less between the 2011 and 2017 calendar years.

“We need the VET system to work for everyone and we need it to work for them now,” Senator Cash said.

“Industry is crying out for a nationally consistent and flexible system and we as governments need to match that with cooperation and delivery.”


How digital document management can help training organisations boost compliance

Proving enrolments are active and legitimate can be a major challenge for registered training organisations (RTOs), which rely on student numbers to maintain competitive advantage and obtain government funding. RTOs need to justify their student intake with up-to-date documents and records, and this can be difficult using traditional, paper-based data management processes.

It’s important for RTOs to have the tools to easily and confidently support claims about student enrolment for compliance and auditing purposes, while providing students with access to better services, according to Upstream.

RTOs operate in a highly competitive space. Student services and teaching staff manage large volumes of documents, from feedback and enrolment forms to assignments and late submission notices for assessments. It’s critical to securely and accurately process and store these documents.

Failing to produce accurate and relevant documentation when needed can see student satisfaction decrease, and importantly can also jeopardise RTOs’ certifications and funding.

Upstream Victorian sales manager Cal Stevens says, “RTOs relying on paper documents are putting their organisation’s funding at risk. Paper documents are more difficult to keep track of, and they can easily become lost, damaged, stolen, copied, and forgotten about at the back of filing cabinets, all of which are common challenges faced by RTOs daily.

“Handling student information on paper also means student services teams need to manually update records, which becomes cumbersome and complicated. In addition, it puts the responsibility on staff and means that RTOs are relying on employees for business-critical processes.  Physical documents also take up space as they accumulate over time, and demand maintenance resources many RTOs simply don’t have.”

As digital document trends take off across multiple sectors, RTOs should consider the following suit to improve their document management and student services, increase compliance, become audit-ready, and ensure government funding.

Digitising student documents means that information and updates can be easily stored and tracked over students’ tertiary lifespans. Students’ documents can be scanned and automatically uploaded against their own student records directly in the document management platform for authorised staff to view, track, and manage.

Even after students graduate, RTOs can maintain records relating to alumni. This is helpful for RTOs undergoing audits and managing student records retrospectively.

RTOs with digitised document management systems can save significant time during audits by accessing a student’s complete records and document history at the simple click of a button.

This means staff also have more time to focus on more meaningful tasks, rather than getting bogged down in paperwork during auditing periods.

Cal Stevens said, “Despite a shift towards digitised document services, many students still provide physical submissions of their assessments or don’t have access to laptops or iPads, and subsequently can’t upload documents to their digital accounts. As a result, RTOs still have to cater to and manage physical paperwork. This challenge can be easily resolved with simple document management solutions that migrate physical paperwork to a digital format.

Whether through barcode technology or document scanning solutions, DMS technology can be applied to a range of student documents and scanned directly into the RTO’s learning management system.

Digital document management systems are helping RTOs, and other businesses in a range of industries save time, improve security, and provide better services to customers and clients. RTOs can use digital document solutions to perform better in audits and maintain necessary funding.

Digital systems also let RTOs better cater to students, who trust in their education providers to responsibly, ethically, and accurately manage their documents and data.


Change in how unit codes are allocated in VET accredited courses

26 June 2019

The method for allocating codes to units of competency is changing and will apply to VET accredited course applications received from 1 September 2019.

You will need to assign codes as Unit 001, Unit 002 (etc.) for reference during course development. ASQA will allocate unique unit codes upon granting accreditation for the parent course.

Example code allocation

The ASQA accredited course document template will be amended to include explanatory advice. A new version of this template will be published closer to the implementation date.

For further information regarding the change to the allocation of units codes in VET accredited courses, contact the Course Accreditation Team by email at or call the ASQA Info Line on 1300 701 801.

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