Vocational Education and Training sector update: autumn 2023

By Julian Hammond, Alexandra Lane and Gabrielle Fee

In the autumn edition of our vocational education and training sector update, we:

  • outline the key learnings that have emerged from ASQA’s recent strategic review of online learning in the VET sector, and how it proposes to address these risks;
  • provide details on new resources developed by ASQA to assist providers with registration renewal, as well as the development of other guidance material; and
  • comment on a recent review by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal of a decision made by the Chief Executive Officer of ASQA to reject AbilitySeer’s application for accreditation of its proposed vocational course in ‘National Disability Insurance Scheme Support Coordination’.

A key theme we are seeing at the moment is a focus by ASQA on how it may better regulate the VET sector, and what it can do to best support the providers and community. This will be particularly relevant as the sector navigates the changing learning landscape of a post-COVID environment.

We explore these themes and other issues in further detail below.

ASQA news

Pathway and Perspectives – VET sector newsletter

ASQA has released Pathways and Perspectives, a new publication that provides an overview of the VET sector, the opportunities it creates and the central role it plays in the Australian economy. You can read the latest issue of Pathways and Perspectives on the ASQA website.

Strategic review of online learning in the VET sector

ASQA has undertaken a strategic review of online learning in the VET sector, to address a regulatory risk it identified in ASQA’s Regulatory Strategy 2020-22 and in the 2021-22 Regulatory Risk Priorities. The review analyses the opportunities and risks of online learning and identifies how it will respond to these risks.

ASQA has now released the final report titled ‘Strategic Review of Online Learning in the VET sector’.

The strategic review identifies the following:

  • VET courses can be successfully delivered online, and there is no single issue or feature of online learning that poses either a greater or lesser risk to quality of the education in doing so;
  • after the COVID-19 pandemic, many students now prefer the flexibility of blended learning. It allows providers an opportunity to expand their offering and provide students with more choices across the market; however
  • the shift to online learning has increased the prospect of some providers operating in the market with immature risk assessment and self-assurance systems in place.

ASQA has committed to the following actions to address the risks of online learning:

  1. to undertake performance monitoring of a sample of providers delivering products of concern online;
  2. to strengthen existing educational products and guidance to support providers to self-assure their operations;
  3. to develop guidance for its quality assessors to support consistent application of the Standards and ensure assessment practices are up to date;
  4. to better support English language qualifications as a planned approach, to return to compliance with Standards; and
  5. to consider the risks associated with delivering online learning, when assessing the overall risk of any application or registered provider.

You can read a snapshot of the review's findings on the ASQA website.

RTO registration renewal

A registered training organisation (RTO) registration renewal application is available in the Asqanet portal 12 months prior to the registration expiry date, and the application can be made up to 90 days before expiry.

To assist providers with answers to their questions, the ASQA Service Centre has created a new list of frequently asked questions around the renewal of a provider’s registration, including details about the cost of the renewal, the length of the application, and the required documents. To access this useful guide, visit ‘Renewing RTO registration’.

Guidance to providers

As part of ASQA’s commitment to continuous improvement, it has reviewed the suite of general directions available to providers, and integrated these with its other guidance material available online.

The intention of ASQA’s general directions is to provide the best resources to help providers understand their obligations as registered training organisations.

The updated guidance material includes information about:

  • learner transitions;
  • quality indicators;
  • resourcing requirements;
  • retention requirements; and
  • third-party arrangements for training and/or assessment of VET courses.

We recommend providers are regularly reviewing this guidance material, and ensuring they are compliant with each of the processes listed.

Annual Declaration on Compliance – 17 April 2023

The Annual Declaration on Compliance 2023 is a regulatory requirement and can only be completed by the person who is legally responsible for the registration of the RTO (the Chief Executive Officer).

On 17 April 2023, all RTO Chief Executive Officers (CEO) will receive a unique weblink to the online declaration. Before this date, it is encouraged that all RTO CEOs ensure the records are current and accurate, that any incorrect information is updated, and that each RTO CEO conducts an assessment of its compliance with the Standards and conditions of registration.

The compliance process will close on 17 May 2023.

Recent enforcement proceedings by ASQA

AbilitySeer Pty Ltd and Australian Skills Quality Authority [2022] AATA 2129

  • This matter concerns a merits review by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) of a decision made by ASQA to reject accreditation of AbilitySeer’s proposed VET course in ‘National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Support Coordination’ (Course).
  • On 20 November 2019, AbilitySeer submitted to ASQA a ‘VET course concept – initial accreditation’ form for the proposed Course in ‘NDIS Support Coordination’, that required AbilitySeer to provide, among other things, evidence of engagement with other industry stakeholders to demonstrate there is a need and support for national recognition of the course.
  • ASQA concluded that AbilitySeer failed to provide satisfactory evidence of stakeholder engagement, and on 20 August 2020, rejected AbilitySeer’s application as:
    • it did not comply with the Standards for VET Accredited Courses 2012;
    • was not based on an established industry, enterprise, education, legislative or community need;
    • was not based on nationally endorsed units of competency or units of competency developed to meet the requirements of the Standards;
    • did not specify rules for the structure of the course;
    • did not provide guidance on delivery modes, advice on limitations to delivery modes and any requirements for on-the-job training; and
    • did not specify specialist facilities and resources the vocational competency requirements of trainers and assessors essential for delivery of the course.
  • On 18 September 2020, AbilitySeer requested reconsideration by ASQA of its rejection decision.
  • On 27 November 2020, the Chief Commissioner of ASQA affirmed the decision to reject AbilitySeer’s application for accreditation, based on non-compliance with the Standards.
  • On 29 December 2020, AbilitySeer applied to the AAT for merits review of this decision.
  • At hearing, ASQA contended that the National Vocational Education and Training Regulator Act 2011 (NVR Act) provided discretion to grant accreditation of a proposed course as a VET accredited course, however when considering accreditation, it required the Standards to be taken into account.
  • ASQA maintained that, despite the need for an accredited NDIS support coordination course, the Course did not meet the standards required ‘because there is insufficient evidence of an industry need for its particular course to be nationally accredited’ and ‘insufficient evidence that it was developed in consultation with, and validated by, industry, enterprise, community and/or professional groups, including the peak bodies in the disability sector represented by members of the IRC.’
  • ASQA also contended that AbilitySeer’s evidence of five industry consultation forms in relation to the Course did not demonstrate that the content of each enterprise unit has been validated by industry.
  • ASQA therefore submitted that, due to the lack of evidence provided by peak bodies regarding consultation and support for the Course, it could not be accredited by ASQA. This position was affirmed by the AAT.

This decision provides further evidence of the granular, detailed level of assessments ASQA will undertake when assessing the Standards against any accreditation or Couse provider.  

Extended transition periods

The Standards for Registered Training Organisations 2015 (Cth) (Standards) require that RTOs manage the scope of their own registrations, by ensuring that they have transitioned any superseded training packages and transferred students across to new packages. During this transition period, both the superseded and the new training packages will remain on the scope of the RTO’s registration.

ASQA can extend transition periods for RTOs longer than those prescribed by the Standards and has recently done so for the following products:

  • PSP40116 Certificate IV in Government;
  • MSF30418 Certificate III in Glass and Glazing;
  • PSP40516 Certificate IV in Trade Measurement;
  • AHC30916 – Certificate III in Landscape Construction; and
  • FWP Qualifications (FWP20116, FWP20216, FWP30116, FWP30216, FWP40116, FWP50116).

The full list of transition extensions is available on ASQA’s website.

ASQA has identified that, in order for RTOs to best meet the needs of their students and industry, students should be transferred from superseded qualifications into replacement qualifications as soon as possible. Providers should continue to monitor the list of transition periods to ensure that they remain compliant.

Need assistance?

We would be pleased to work with you to ensure that your organisation is operating in accordance with its legislative obligations.

Please contact a member of our team – our details are below.


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