Change of leadership for VET regulator

Mark Paterson AO will conclude his term as Chief Commissioner and CEO of the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) on 6 October 2019.

Mr Paterson first joined ASQA as a Commissioner in May 2016, before leading the regulator as Chief Commissioner and CEO since 1 January 2017.

Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business, the Honourable Michaelia Cash thanked Mr Paterson for his contribution in lifting the vocational education and training (VET) sector out of its embattled VET FEE-HELP era.

“I would like to thank Mark for the leadership he has provided to ASQA since January 2017, including managing the removal of a large number of poor quality training providers that arose as a result of past practices and the VET FEE-HELP debacle,” Minister Cash said.

Mr Paterson was appointed as Chief Commissioner at a time of important reform for the VET sector. He was tasked with restoring trust from students, industry and the mostly quality providers across the sector in the wake of the removal of the much maligned VET-FEE HELP program.

Since then, Mr Paterson has used his role to ensure unscrupulous providers were removed from the sector, rebuilding the reputation of Australia’s education and training system.

He has overseen ASQA’s shift to a risk-based approach to regulating the sector that has resulted in audits only targeting providers that pose risks to quality. He also implemented the Raising the Bar initiative that ensures only quality newcomers can enter the VET market.

During Mr Paterson’s time as Chief Commissioner ASQA released two significant strategic reviews investigating systemic problems in the sector. One identified that very short VET courses may prevent students from gaining all of the skills and competencies they should when completing training, and paved the way to stamp out these courses. The latest is a comprehensive response to risks in Australia’s international VET and English language education markets, which will improve experiences for overseas students and strengthen collaborations between the many government, industry and education bodies working across this sector.

ASQA’s Deputy Chief Commissioner, Ms Saxon Rice, has been named as the regulator’s interim Chief Commissioner from 7 October 2019. Ms Rice has been Deputy Chief Commissioner at the regulator since April 2018.

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TAFE SA wins vote of confidence from national regulator

In a massive win for South Australian industry and job seekers, the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) has granted TAFE SA the maximum seven-year registration as a national VET Registered Training Organisation (RTO) for local and international students.

It is the first time that TAFE SA has ever received this length of registration.

This tick of approval from the national regulator represents a significant step towards TAFE SA’s goal of becoming known as a benchmark for high-quality vocational education in South Australia.

Applications for the renewal of RTO registration are rigorously assessed by ASQA and are granted for two, five or the maximum seven years.

ASQA has also registered TAFE SA on the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRISCOS) for the next seven years.

Education Minister John Gardner said the announcement represents a significant milestone in rebuilding TAFE SA into the quality vocational training provider that South Australians deserve.

“Today’s announcement is a clear vote of confidence in the Government’s policy direction, as outlined in our Fresh Start for TAFE SA,” said Minister Gardner.

“South Australian industry and job seekers can now go forward with enhanced confidence that TAFE SA is delivering high quality training that meets the standards required and industry needs.

“This is a very positive outcome for TAFE SA which would not have been achieved without the dedication and commitment of staff across the organisation to implement a new quality framework.

“TAFE SA remain committed to maintaining ongoing quality measures and the Government has put in place radically improved structures and oversight to ensure TAFE SA continues to deliver on its fresh start.

“This seven-year registration demonstrates that the Government’s commitment to TAFE SA and their efforts in improving compliance has not gone unnoticed.”

TAFE SA Chief Executive David Coltman said that the positive response to the registration renewal was a strong show of confidence in the improvements that have been made across TAFE SA.

“This is a really positive outcome for TAFE SA and a vote of confidence in the extensive quality improvements that have been implemented across all of our programs,” said Mr Coltman.

“TAFE SA has embarked on a fresh start, we are committed to providing quality outcomes for students and working closely with industry, and this seven-year registration confirms that we are on the right path.

“Staff across TAFE SA have worked tirelessly to ensure all of our education and training services are compliant, and at the standard that students, industry and the community deserve.

“We are at the first stage of the journey, we are focused on continuous improvement and we will continue to develop high quality and innovative training that responds to student and industry needs.

“At TAFE SA, we will continue to ensure that our education and training services meet the standards of all relevant regulatory bodies and that it plays an important role in building the South Australian workforce for the future.”

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New risk areas for VET announced in ASQA regulatory strategy

The Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) has released its latest regulatory strategy, setting out the agency’s priorities to 2021.

The strategy is informed by ASQA’s evidence-based approach to identifying and addressing systemic risks to the vocational education and training (VET) sector. The latest update announces continued focus on international education and trainer and assessor capability, and a new focus on VET in Schools.

ASQA Chief Commissioner and CEO, Mark Paterson AO, said the new strategy advises how regulatory activity will remain focused on responding to the most significant risks in a sector largely made up of quality providers.

“ASQA’s risk-based approach to regulation allows us to target efforts to address serious non-compliances that risk damaging the reputation of our world-class VET sector,” Mr Paterson explained.

“All of ASQA’s regulatory activity, including audits, investigations and reviews of specific training areas or products is carried out in response to evidence of risk-ASQA does not conduct regulatory activity unless we have determined a compelling threat to quality.

“Our latest regulatory strategy informs providers and the broader VET community of where we are seeing concentrated evidence of risk to our sector, and where we will subsequently apply greater regulatory focus.”

Concerns about VET courses delivered in secondary schools have been raised in recent research reports and reviews but there has not yet been national scrutiny of this area. ASQA will conduct a study and consult with other government agencies to better understand the risks to VET in schools, and determine if further action is required.

Work will continue to monitor the capacity of trainers and assessors, and implement recommendations of ASQA’s recent strategic review into international education. The strategy also sets out the second phase of the ‘Recognising and supporting quality initiative’, which seeks to improve how quality VET delivery is recognised and support providers through enhanced engagement and advice.

There are five products of concern listed for close scrutiny resulting from emerging data indicating potential issues:

  • CHC33015 Certificate III in Individual Support
  • CHC50113 Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care
  • TAE40116 Certificate IV in Training and Assessment
  • CPCCWHS1001 Prepare to work safely in the construction industry
  • BSB50215 Diploma of Business.
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ASQA Parliamentary Criticism Echo Sectors Concerns

The re gulator for the vocational education and training (VET) sector, the Australian Skills Quality Authority
(AS QA), has been criticised by Andrew Laming MP in a hard -hitting speech to parliament. According to the
Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia (I TECA), the peak body representing independent providers
in the higher education, vocational education and training sector, the v iews of Mr Laming echo those of most
quality independent providers in the VET sector.

Mr Lam ing ‘s speech canvassed the experience of many providers in dealing with ASQA. It highlighted how
award -winning RTOs are being accu sed of failing to meet regulatory standards for min or technical bre aches of
the l egislation or on matters that have no bearing on student quality such as the colo ur of a logo on a website.

ITECA encour ages all with an interest in t he challenges facing quality RTO ‘s to list en to the speech. It was
made in parliament on 31 July 2019 and can be found online at.

www. youtu.be/bNnwn5gY8OM
“The experience of many ITECA members can be found in Mr Lami ng’s comments. He ‘s drawn attent ion
to how ASQA ‘s app roach keeps good people running quality RTO s up at night,” said Troy Williams, ITECA
Chief Ex ecutive.

Mr Lam ing ‘s speech h ighlighted how many quality RTO ‘s face the wrath of ASQA for compliance issues that
ha ve little to no outcome on the provision of quality providing of training to s tudents.

“ITECA isn ‘t calling for the regulatory system t o be wound -back, s imply that the approach of ASQA be
modified to focus less on what Mr Lam ing c orre ctly called a dmi nistrivia,” Mr Williams said.

In his comments Mr Laming said “Ever y provider I spo ke to said that if there were to be another provider
engaged in fraud, mismanagement or irrespo nsible training practice of course they should be driven from the
training system “. ITECA supports this view without qualification.

The work of ASQA was consider ed in the report Strengthening Skills: Expert Review of Australia’s Vocationa l
Education and Training System autho red by Mr Stephen Jo yce and commi ssioned by the Australian
Government. ITECA believes this report sets a roadmap for reform that will help quality RT Os.

“ITECA and our members are supportive of the board direction set out in the Joyce report and we ‘re
comfo rted by the en gagement that we ‘ve had at a Ministerial and department al l eve l to assist the
government develop an appropr iate response,” Mr Williams sa id.

/Public Release. View in full here.

ASQA Parliamentary Criticism Echo Sectors Concerns

The re gulator for the vocational education and training (VET) sector, the Australian Skills Quality Authority
(AS QA), has been criticised by Andrew Laming MP in a hard -hitting speech to parliament. According to the
Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia (I TECA), the peak body representing independent providers
in the higher education, vocational education and training sector, the v iews of Mr Laming echo those of most
quality independent providers in the VET sector.

Mr Lam ing ‘s speech canvassed the experience of many providers in dealing with ASQA. It highlighted how
award -winning RTOs are being accu sed of failing to meet regulatory standards for min or technical bre aches of
the l egislation or on matters that have no bearing on student quality such as the colo ur of a logo on a website.

ITECA encour ages all with an interest in t he challenges facing quality RTO ‘s to list en to the speech. It was
made in parliament on 31 July 2019 and can be found online at.

www. youtu.be/bNnwn5gY8OM
“The experience of many ITECA members can be found in Mr Lami ng’s comments. He ‘s drawn attent ion
to how ASQA ‘s app roach keeps good people running quality RTO s up at night,” said Troy Williams, ITECA
Chief Ex ecutive.

Mr Lam ing ‘s speech h ighlighted how many quality RTO ‘s face the wrath of ASQA for compliance issues that
ha ve little to no outcome on the provision of quality providing of training to s tudents.

“ITECA isn ‘t calling for the regulatory system t o be wound -back, s imply that the approach of ASQA be
modified to focus less on what Mr Lam ing c orre ctly called a dmi nistrivia,” Mr Williams said.

In his comments Mr Laming said “Ever y provider I spo ke to said that if there were to be another provider
engaged in fraud, mismanagement or irrespo nsible training practice of course they should be driven from the
training system “. ITECA supports this view without qualification.

The work of ASQA was consider ed in the report Strengthening Skills: Expert Review of Australia’s Vocationa l
Education and Training System autho red by Mr Stephen Jo yce and commi ssioned by the Australian
Government. ITECA believes this report sets a roadmap for reform that will help quality RT Os.

“ITECA and our members are supportive of the board direction set out in the Joyce report and we ‘re
comfo rted by the en gagement that we ‘ve had at a Ministerial and department al l eve l to assist the
government develop an appropr iate response,” Mr Williams sa id.

/Public Release. View in full here.

Overseas students choose Australia for quality VET

A growing number of overseas students are coming to Australia for vocational education and training (VET) and the national regulator is committed to ensuring quality learning experiences.

The Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) report on its strategic review into international education finds that overseas students have good experiences studying in Australia, however work is needed to ensure this continues to be the case.

ASQA’s Chief Commissioner and CEO, Mark Paterson AO, said strong demand from overseas students has seen an increase in the number of registered providers delivering VET courses to overseas students and offering English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students (ELICOS), or delivering training offshore.

“Our latest report is a comprehensive response to risks identified in Australia’s international VET and English language education markets,” Mr Paterson explained.

“We have found that a very high number of overseas students are satisfied with their experience gaining qualifications in Australia, so we can be confident that the majority of providers are delivering quality training.

“However more work is needed to make sure providers meet their obligations, and to ensure we have the right data to monitor activity and eliminate poor behaviour.

“We are committed to working in partnership with other government and industry bodies and the regulated community to address the complex and dynamic issues facing this growing sector.”

The report contains evidence that some VET providers are not meeting their obligations to ensure overseas students receive accurate information about their courses, meet the prerequisites for courses and participate in a minimum of 20 contact hours per week. It warns that providers failing to meet these obligations can cause significant harm to overseas students, undermine the community’s confidence in the VET sector and the student visa program, and impact providers that deliver quality VET courses.

The report’s recommendations include amending the National Code to make it explicit that overseas students are required to attend courses on a full-time basis, strengthening collaboration across agencies to ensure consistent access to data and intelligence and ensuring offshore students have the same protections as students in Australia.

ASQA will publish clear information for providers about expectations for delivering training to overseas students and continue work to identify and take action against providers not complying with their obligations.

The findings of the report will inform ASQA’s ongoing risk-based regulatory focus.

The full report, Protecting the quality of international VET and English language education, is available via the link below:

/Public Release. View in full here.

Concerns for TAFE SA following MOU sell out

The Australian Education Union (SA Branch) has raised serious concerns over today’s announcement by Minister Gardner regarding the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between TAFE SA and the Independent Tertiary Education Council of Australia (ITECA).

The agreement opens the door to private providers taking up residence at TAFE sites, directing policy and cherry picking the delivery of profitable courses.

ITECA is open about actively pursuing its reform agenda by increasing its private provider members’ share of the vocational education and training sector.

Australian Education Union South Australian President Howard Spreadbury is wary of how TAFE SA and ITECA will work together under this new agreement.

“The two organisations are in direct competition within the same market. Minister Gardner’s statement confirms he will allow private providers to further erode TAFE’s market share, compromise its independence and allow ITECA to push its own agenda,” said Mr Spreadbury.

Instead the AEU is calling for the Marshall Liberal Government to recognise the value of TAFE SA and to return appropriate investment levels, suggesting this would be a more effective way to make it more competitive and sustainable in the long term.

“TAFE SA is the largest provider of vocational education and training in the state and must be valued for its place within the community. TAFE SA provides quality education that is accessible to all, offering pathways for many who may otherwise miss out on opportunities.”

The AEU asserts that TAFE SA is already responsive to the needs of employers and works with industry groups to deliver quality training to build a skilled and sustainable workforce for South Australia.

There are concerns about how TAFE SA facilities may be used in the future. It may end up being more ‘competitive’ for TAFE SA under its new management to lease out its facilities rather than provide courses for students.

“It is like having a ‘fire sale’ after the place has been gutted. Instead of supporting and investing in TAFE SA, the Marshall Government is surrendering its responsibility and handing it over to private providers who are driven by profit,” said Mr Spreadbury.

“Letting private providers access taxpayer-funded facilities and set up in direct competition on TAFE SA’s own doorstep has the potential to undermine TAFE program delivery.”

/Public Release.

Time for a radical overall of nation’s skills funding system

The peak body representing independent higher education, vocational education and training providers is calling for radical reform of how the workforce is educated, trained and reskilled. The advocacy by the Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia (ITECA) is backed by new research that highlights the benefits of placing student choice at the centre of the funding model.

“In the years ahead Australia will face constraints as a result of not having a workforce with the skills required to meet the demands of a changing economy. The training system needs to support a culture of life‐long learning where constant reskilling is the norm. The challenge for governments Troy Williams, ITECA Chief Executive.

The 2019 ITECA State Of The Sector Report released this week provides the evidence required to overhaul the funding arrangements that underpin Australia’s vocational education and training system. The report highlights that, by virtually any measure, independent achieve outcomes equal to or better than public providers.

“We need one tertiary education funding model that supports students throughout their working lives and allows them to transit between the higher education and vocational education and training sectors. This will support a culture of life‐long learning,” Mr Williams said.

ITECA believes that present policy settings are unlikely to provide Australia with the skills needed to support an economy in which rapidly changing technology is the norm. The demands are such that vestment in workforce reskilling without the support of the independent tertiary education system that includes independent higher ing model that preferences the ECA.

“Policy settings must promote the complementarity of the public TAFE system and the independent vocational education and training system. Students should be able to select the quality provider of their choice – whether public or independent – and government funding models should be based on this approach,” Mr Williams said.

The 2019 ITECA State Of The Sector Report more than 60% of the 4.2 million students in vocational education and training. It notes that for domestic students it costs government $2,400 per student trained by independent providers in the vocational education and training system but $5,500 per student trained by public TAFE institutes.

l, where they can select the provider of their choice, whether they be a quality independent provider or public provider,” Mr Williams said.

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SourceAAP:www.miragenews.com