The Australian Skills Quality Authority ‘strongly’ refutes claims of deliberate cuts to RTOS

LEGAL REVIEW: Assistant Minister for Vocational Education and Skills Karen Andrews launched a review earlier this year into the law covering the Australian Skills Quality Authority. The review report is due by the end of the end. Picture: Alex Ellinghausen

There are no plans to cut the number of training organisations offering national qualifications, despite concerns raised in the sector.

An Australian Skills Quality Authority spokesman said the authority, “rejects – in the strongest possible terms – any claim that the goal of its regulatory activity is to reduce the number of RTOs in Australia.”

The spokesman was referring to a story in The Advocate which suggested ASQA aimed to cut the numbers of RTOs by almost 18 per cent, based on the number paying fees next year.

The spokesman said  there were 4593 RTOs in Australia at 30 June 2017.

“ASQA regulates 4098 of these and the remainder are regulated by … Victoria and Western Australia,” he said.

“ASQA estimates that 3704 of its RTOs will pay next year’s annual registration fee,” he said.

A further 300 would pay fees to Queensland and the remainder would probably leave the sector.

The spokesman also said the authority had found issues with the abilities of trainers and assessors in the sector.

“ASQA has applied enhanced scrutiny to applications from RTOs to add qualifications from the new TAE package to their scope of registration,” he said.

The intention was to protect students and employers, not cut the number of providers offering TAE qualifications.

The issue of RTO cancellations has seen an online petition set up asking for an investigation into ASQA’s operations.

Among the areas raised in the petition was the allegedly high proportion of cancelled registrations which were appealed, then revoked, meaning the company remained a registered training provider.

The online petition claimed too many RTOs had had their cancellation decision revoked or put on hold.

It said the concern was the disruption to training companies, their students and their families during the period of uncertainty arising from a cancellation that was appealed, only to be revoked later.

However the ASQA spokesman said, “The claim that a high proportion of ASQA’s decisions have been revoked following appeal has no basis in fact.

“Between 1 July 2011 and 30 June 2017, there have been 301 applications to tribunals or courts seeking review of an ASQA decisions that have been finalised,” he said.

“Of these, ASQA’s decision has been set aside in only 11 applications, or 3.7 per cent.”

In June this year, the federal government commissioned a review of the law governing ASQA, to ensure it could effectively and efficiently regulate the sector. It is also looking at ASQA’s response to student and industry needs.

The report is due out soon.

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