ASQA’s Regulatory Strategy 2019–21

 The strategy identifies two target areas and five strategic initiatives

  • Target area 1: Trainer and assessor capability, identified as a critical concern for the VET Sector in three consecutive years (2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018 -2020)
  • Target area 2: VET in Schools
  • Strategic Initiative 1: Recognising and supporting quality in the VET sector
  • Strategic Initiative 2: Australia’s international education sector
  • Strategic Initiative 3: Strengthening registration requirements
  • Strategic Initiative 4: Training products of concern  
  • Strategic Initiative 5: Standards of concern

The Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA), as the national regulator of vocational education and training (VET) and certain English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students (ELICOS) programs has released its regulatory strategy 2019-2021. The strategy is designed to address several critical issues in the Australian education and training sector. The target areas and strategic initiatives outlined in the Regulatory Strategy continues the work identified in previous years to address key systemic challenges in the VET and CRICOS sectors, including trainer and assessor capability, protecting Australia’s quality international education and training, and strengthening registration requirements.
Target area – 1: Trainers and assessors’ capability
Trainers and assessors must demonstrate compliance with Clauses 1.13, 1.14, 1.15, 1.18, 1.23 and 1.24 of the Standards for Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) 2015.  Read more about demonstrating compliance with these requirements from the links below:
Your Trainer and Assessor Files Clause 1.13 & 1.16 (Series)
We will address the following requirements of clauses 1.14, 1.15, 1.18, 1.23 & 1.24 for providers to ensure that trainers and assessors delivering training and assessment, supervising those delivering training and assessment, or validating assessment practices, hold the appropriate credentials identified in Schedule 1 of the Standards for RTOs in our upcoming articles.
ASQA has acknowledged the concerns of stakeholders that the TAE40116 Certificate IV in Training and Assessment. It has been found that is does not produce quality trainers and assessors. The requirements of the qualification could be too onerous or a deterrent to potential trainers and assessors with relevant skills and industry experience. ASQA will, therefore, undertake a review in partnership with the Department of Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business.
Target area – 2: VET in Schools
This is a new target area in ASQA’s latest regulatory strategy.  In recent years, the closure of several providers with large numbers of VET in schools’ enrolments has highlighted key risks in relation to VET delivered in schools, including:

  • The provision of accurate information to support students in making an informed decision to enrol in a VET program.
  • Ensuring teachers/trainers and assessors delivering the program are appropriately qualified.
  • Alignment between training and assessment delivery and the requirements of the relevant training package.
  • Availability of sufficient learning and assessment resources to support students.
  • Timely certification of students on completion of their training.
  • Adequacy of partnering arrangements.

ASQA is writing to the relevant education and training authorities in each state and territory to provide advice about the risks identified through recent regulatory activity concerning VET in schools. This communication will inform their oversight of arrangements within their jurisdiction.
ASQA will, in consultation with other regulators and all state and territory governments, undertake a scoping study to:

  • Further clarify the key risks associated with VET delivered in secondary schools, and understand how these risks interact with the delivery models in each jurisdiction
  • Research the delivery and quality assurance of VET for secondary school students in other countries
  • Analyse the findings of existing research and reviews
  • Provide further advice to all state and territory Ministers with responsibilities for education and training concerning the risks identified through recent audits of RTOs delivering VET in secondary schools
  • Consider whether a regulatory response and/or further work is required, including a potential strategic review into VET delivered in secondary schools.

Strategic initiatives 2019–21
ASQA has identified the following five strategic initiatives:

  • Recognising and supporting quality in the VET Sector
  • Australia’s international education sector
  • Strengthening registration requirements
  • Training products of concern
  • Standards of concern

Strategic Initiative 1: Recognising and supporting quality in the VET sector
ASQA’s Recognising and supporting quality in the VET sector initiative was announced as part of the Regulatory Strategy 2017–18.
ASQA is currently undertaking the following initiatives to recognise and support quality within its existing budget:

  • revision of the Regulatory Risk Framework and Regulatory Principles
  • continuation of ASQA’s education and information activities, implementing more positive messaging
  • clarification of regulatory policies and processes relating to delegations and registration periods
  • review of the publication of regulatory decisions on the ASQA website.

ASQA will work with the Department of Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business and the Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business to further develop ways to recognise and support quality in the VET sector. This work will be undertaken in light of the Australian Government’s response to the NVR Act review and more recent policy analysis work arising from the Joyce review.
Strategic Initiative 2: Australia’s international education sector
The following areas will be ASQA’s main focus:

  • Student non-attendance
  • Enrolment growth
  • English-language capabilities
  • Education agents
  • Students transfers between providers
  • Providers with multiple operations
  • Provider Registration and International Student Management System (PRISMS) data issues
  • Assessing the compliance of VET providers operating in key offshore markets, including in China
  • 100% online delivery to international students especially offshore
  • Assessment-only services in foreign countries

ASQA is currently expanding the existing information-sharing protocols with state and territory governments to include agencies with responsibility for international education and establish an agreement with Austrade to facilitate the exchange of information in relation to CRICOS providers, overseas student issues and the delivery of VET offshore.
Strategic Initiative 3: Strengthening registration requirements
ASQA will continue to use the following parameters to scrutiny for new applicants to become an RTO or CRICOS provider:

  • shorter initial registration periods,
  • greater scrutiny on applicant’s readiness to provide quality training and assessment
  • financial Viability Risk Assessment
  • greater scrutiny on the suitability of people associated with the applicant to ensure they meet the Fit and Proper Person (FPP) requirements

ASQA is planning to change the processes that apply when the ownership of an RTO or CRICOS provider changes. ASQA intends to introduce revised change of ownership processes for when the majority ownership of an RTO or CRICOS provider changes.
Strategic Initiative 4: Training products of concern  
ASQA is actively monitoring providers with the following training products on their scope on the current strategic initiative:

  • 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

Strategic Initiative 5: Standards of concern
ASQA has identified the clauses mostly training organisations are likely to be at risk of non-compliance.
The standards of concern are:

  • 1.1; Have appropriate training and assessment strategies and practices, including amount of training
  • 1.2; Appropriate amount of training is provided, taking account of the skills, knowledge and experience of the learner and mode of delivery
  • 1.3; Have the resources to provide quality training and assessment – including sufficient training and assessors, learning resources, support services, equipment facilities.
  • 1.8; Implement effective assessment systems
  • 3.1; AQF Certification is issued only where the learner has been assessed as meeting the training product requirements

ASQA’s International Education Strategic Review identified the following standards of concern in the CRICOS sector:

  • 2; implement a process for assessing English language proficiency
  • 4; ensuring education agents act ethically, honestly and in the best interests of overseas students
  • 8; supporting overseas students to complete their course within the required duration by appropriately monitoring student progress and participation
  • 11; meeting the registration requirements for registration on CRICOS, including that the delivery of all courses is for a minimum of 20 course contact hours per week.

In 2019–21, ASQA will be enhancing its monitoring and use of PRISMS data to detect activity patterns and trends of interest. This approach makes it essential that providers are accurately recording relevant student information in PRISMS.
We are here to help!
We understand how difficult it is to be 100% compliant in all your RTO operations and systems. If you need any help, contact us today at or 1800 266 160 and find out how we can support you.
You can read the complete regulatory strategy at:  
The following courses are currently being monitored (if you want to know how many RTOs have been cancelled or suspended that have these courses on their scope, please visit here).
You need to ensure that you are using quality training and assessment resources. If you are uncertain of the quality of your resources, you need to validate and even better ask an expert to do a few units for you. We are happy to help you with your validation of training and assessment resources and we can also deliver professional development sessions for your staff members.
We have the following quality training and assessment resources available for purchase. Our September special will be a 20% discount on the following qualifications:

  1. CHC33015 Certificate III in Individual Support
  2. CHC30113 – Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care
  3. CHC50113 Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care
  4. CPCCWHS1001 Prepare to work safely in the construction industry
  5. BSB50215 Diploma of Business

Email us on to receive your 20% discount.

Interview: Troy Williams, Chief Executive Officer at the Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia (ITECA).

Here is a copy of our interview with Troy Williams, Chief Executive Officer at the Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia (ITECA). 

Troy, in a nutshell, what has been your experience of working in the training and education industry?

It’s diverse.  From the perspective of a provider, in the late 1990s I established a Registered Training Organisation (RTO) for an industry association and a decade ago my focus was on running a large one with a companion Group Training Organisation (GTO).  In more recent times it’s been working with industry associations and reviewing the architecture of the sector, ensuring that both the vocational education and training (VET) sector plus the higher education sector provides the skills and education required to support a growing economy – and the cuts to the amount of red-tape required to allow quality providers to deliver that.

 What is the purpose of ITECA and how can training organisations benefit?

ITECA is a member-driven organisation representing independent providers in the VET and higher education sectors.  With the support of our members we lobby government for the reforms that will allow providers to operate sustainably whilst ensuring that students can have confidence in the sector.  We provide the market intelligence that allows businesses to make informed decisions and we keep the sector updated with changes to the commercial and regulatory environment. Perhaps the greatest benefit of ITECA membership is the opportunity to afford professionals within the sector to be part of a growing community of likeminded individuals who are committed to the success of the independent tertiary education sector.

 Can you please let us know how ITECA works with training organisations?

ITECA provides leadership, strategy, advocacy and support.  Our members set our agenda, fund our activities and directly benefit from the results.  It’s in this context that there is a great opportunity for members to get involved at a national and state level to identify the projects and policy priorities that we work on.  The ability of ITECA to achieve lasting policy reform, and to deliver the projects that are important to our members, rests with the work of a great many individuals volunteering their time to provide the team within ITECA with advice and guidance.

 What are your views on having VET and Higher Education as separate regulatory bodies in Australia?

The reasons that that ASQA and TEQSA are separate is entirely understandable from a policy perspective; however, for independent providers operating in both the VET and higher education sectors it’s a challenge.  If we look at the regulatory before ASQA and TEQSA objectively, it’s largely the same – providing a framework that permits students to obtain education, training and skills whilst allowing quality providers to excel.  In that context a single regulator makes sense. For dual sector providers it would cut red tape and that’s a positive. From a policy perspective, the issue becomes complex as there are differences between the VET sector, independent higher education providers and public universities in addition to the framework in which the qualifications that they deliver are approved.  In a practical sense, there is the need to progress reform through the Council of Australian Government (COAG) processes that would require aligning the Australian government, six states, two territories and the university sector itself. A single regulator is imminently sensible, achieving it is a complex endeavour but one that merits consideration.

 How is your current role different from your previous roles?

The challenge at ITECA is unique, and one that’s pretty rewarding.  My focus is firmly on working with our members to drive a conversation about the important role of independent providers in ensuring that the nation has the skills needed to support a growing economy.  Outside the VET sector, I don’t believe there is an understanding about the substantial role played by independent providers. Far too many think VET is TAFE and TAFE is VET. That’s not the case, it’s the independent sector that provides around two-thirds of all VET qualifications.  As a general rule, ITECA members do this with higher completion rates, higher post-training employment rates, higher student satisfaction rates and at a lower cost to a taxpayer when compared to the public TAFE sector. That’s not to diminish the role of TAFE, but the numbers to speak for themselves.  This is what makes the role different and one that’s so very important, the ITECA membership has a great story to tell and it’s a genuine privilege to play a role in telling it.

 Let’s go back to the training and education industry.  What do you think are the main threats to training organisations in the current environment?

Red-tape is high on the list and that’s why we’re engaged collaboratively with ASQA and TEQSA to look at reform options.  The Australian Government has a strong agenda for reform as a result of the Braithwaite Review and the more recent Joyce Review, so we’re working towards that.  The second issue is a stable funding base, so ITECA is working with our members to ensure that government funding for students is available on an equal basis through independent and public providers – it’s about student choice.

 As an industry leader, what are your views on how we can improve the vocational education and training sector in Australia?

We need a system that is more dynamic, that allows quality providers to work with industry to provide the skills required today and into the future.  This will require, as identified in the Joyce Review, changes to how qualifications are developed – that it takes up to seven or eight years for a qualification to be developed is not good enough.  Similarly, we need to look at how the sector is regulated, to ensure that the interests of students are protected and also ensure that quality providers can go about their business free from excessive, redundant and duplicative regulation.  More importantly, and a key role for ITECA, is to embrace and best use the collective wisdom that exists across so many professionals in the sector. Our members understand what’s required to allow the system to excel, they are at the coal face and can see where improvements are – I want to work to create a relationship where they are comfortable in volunteering their time to ensure ITECA has the information necessary to make a difference.

The man who stood up for the vocational education and training sector – Mr Andrew Laming MP

We can see the after effects of MP Andrew Laming’s speech in parliament. Many people have started talking about the vocational education and training sector, and the processes and procedures of the current regulator. 

His video that we have shared last week has received over 9,300 views, 1600 likes and 5 dislikes.The video is available through the following link: 

We are sharing some of the comments people have made publically on the above video: 

“This is extremely disturbing that auditors can walk into any brilliantly run RTO establishment and threatened to shut down due to inconsistent auditors that have a hidden agenda. Well said Andrew!” 

“Thankfully someone has taken up the plight of small rtos.  ASQA continually exibit “burearatic bastardry” , answerable to no-one. Our proposed Aboriginal RTO failed audit 3 times. First they took so  Laming MPlong to look at the application, the qualification it was superseded. Second and third, due to minor point scoring that could have been fixed by a short phone-call, were rejected again. This has now cost a small Indigenous RTO, $60k+ and 4 years no income meaning no jobs for Indigenous Students in the unique qualification we were to offer. We are at the stage of giving-up until we watched Andrew Laming MP’s incitefull video that gives us hope!” 

“Great summary of what is occurring, deeply concerning Andrew, we look forward to the follow-up…” 

“Don’t ask for a “helping hand” you’ll get a kick in the guts.  RTOs know this. 100%” 

“Great speech, Andrew.  Private RTO’s have lived in fear ever since ASQA came about.” 

“Thank you! It has always been said, someone needs to stand up and talk! Who? An RTO owner/employee? Ha! Sure way to get an audit scheduled and more than likely closure of the RTO.  Please let us know how you go with this Andrew. Thank you again for taking this on!” 

“Hit the nail on the head Andrew. As a small, regional private RTO in direct competition with TAFE for over 20 years, we are struggling to keep up with the demands ASQA puts on us merely to keep our qualifications on scope. Speak to industry, clients and students to verify quality training.”

“Very well spoken Andrew and thanks for taking this to everyone notice. Hope ASQA commissioners, Auditors and Managers watched this and realized what they have done to this industry and reputation to Australian Education. We are small RTO and CRICOS provider and it took 1 year for ASQA to approve a add on course to our current scope which also have an other campus. We were just paying rent for that new campus for 1 year while waiting for ASQA’s decision. We wait for any developments in ASQA’s processes.”

“You are more correct than you even realise, Andrew. ASQA has in fact been acting ultra vires the NVR Act and abusing process since it commenced operations in July, 2011. I lead the call for the first raft of regulatory reforms including changing the standards which occurred in January, 2015. My own RTO was destroyed by ASQA due to their corrupt conduct and defective decisions after 14 years of quality training and assessment. I have been pursuing these thugs for compensation ever since and will never back off. Only money talks in these matters.”

“Andrew Well Done you have addressed all the issues faced by RTO’s and the threat of ASQA wheeling their “big stick”. This is not how a regulator is suppose to assist an education institution.”

“Note the lack of people in the chamber. Seems pollies aren’t really interested in education”

“ASQA Auditors need more knowledge across the board and all on the same line in the sand, then we may start to see continuity.Internal training needs a boost. Providing feedback along the way to increase depth of knowledge embedded for all as a learning tool.”

Andrew Laming will always be remembered as the man who stood up for vocational education and training and a fair-go. We need a regulatory body in Australia to regulate the Vocational Education and Training sector but at the same time the principles should be based upon fairness, transparency and accountability.  

New projects under way

Training package and/or product consultation – August 2019


PWC Skills for Australia invite you to complete their online survey for the AUR Automotive training package and materials. Take the AUR survey 

First Aid

SkillsIQ is leading a project to review of the current UoCs in the first aid training package to reflect industry best practice and current regulations, with consideration of the skills requirements in specific areas, such as asthma and anaphylaxis and the need for additional criteria to address first aid in relation to mental health. You’re invited to provide feedback on draft 1 UoCs 


The Getting a Job in IT project will update the ICT training package to reflect industry relevant skill needs to ensure qualifications are fit for purpose.The third batch of training products are available for review and comment 

Education support

The following education support draft 2 qualifications and associated UoCs are now available for public consultation.

  • CHC30213 Certificate III in Education Support
  • CHC40213 Certificate IV in Education Support

The  draft qualifications and UoCs, a consultation guide including a summary mapping table, and links to register for scheduled webinars on Wednesday 21 and Thursday 22 August 2019 are available on the SkillsIQ website. View the draft CHC materials

Maritime and Corrections industry subject matter experts needed! 

The Maritime IRC is seeking to form Technical Advisory Committee for three projects to review and develop materials for the MAR Maritime training package.

The three projects require industry expertise to inform the development of:

  • dynamic positioning system operators skill set and new UoCs;
  • a new compass adjuster skill set and UoC aligned to AMSA regulatory and certification requirements; and
  • new maritime towing skill sets and UoCs.


For full details, please visit the project pages.



The Corrections IRC is looking for industry experts to form a Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) to help update four units of competency, and develop a new offender engagement skill set to equip correctional services officers with the skills to enhance engagement and support with offenders. 

Correctional staff require well-developed communication skills to engage with offenders to identify their individual needs, vocational interests and strengths and encourage participation in appropriate programs and services.

This is aimed at improving reintegration in the community, reducing recidivism and increasing future employment opportunities.

Find out more on the AIS website

Skills Impact SSO

Work has begun at Skills Impact SSO in a range of industry areas. 

At present these projects are in the planning stage, with more starting up soon, and there’s opportunities to get involved. 

Visit the Skills Impact website for full details

  • Conservation and land management (review of CLM UoCs)
  • Agronomy (development of a Diploma qualification)
  • Biosecurity and emergency response (benchmarking job roles and activities)
  • Food and beverage processing (review and update of qualifications)
  • Medicinal crops (development of new UoCs/skill sets)

Experiences from the front line

We believe the purpose of a regulatory body is to promote and protect the education and training system. Australia has a world-class education and training system that other countries envy, but the real-life stories below also raise questions. 
RTO One’s Experience
This is a very common scenario in a number of stories we have received: 
Letter from an ex-RTO owner: 
I used to run a one-man, private RTO, teaching only first aid.  I have been teaching first aid for 25 years. I recently got my CPR audited, and failed. 
When querying the auditor, I found some of his questions, regarding content, theory questions and scenarios, a bit odd. I asked just how long ago was it since he had updated his first aid.
He replied, and I have it in his email “I have never gotten a First Aid Certificate, it is on my list of things to do.” 
To discover that the auditor, making comments about CONTENT, was not himself qualified to put on bandaids, was a surprise. Unfortunately, the finding was that if I wished to proceed, I should approach the AAT. 
Being a one-man deliverer, and not having bags of money or free time, I withdrew my registration.
Currently sailing with my wife, working casually as a charter skipper, and loving not having to do paperwork any more. Should have done it earlier. I am one of the lucky ones – I own my own home and boat, and have no staff or debts.
The whole “UN-QUALIFIED AUDITOR” thing has me worried. It would be like a person auditing a driving school, who has never driven a car.
Questions that arise from this situation are: 

  1. How is an auditor who is not an expert in a particular industry allowed to audit and provide an outcome in that area? 
  2. Why was the learning and assessment material not checked through a subject matter expert when the auditor found it insufficient? 
  3. Why was an expert with 25 years of experience deemed non-compliant by an auditor who has no industry experience?
  4. Why was an opportunity for rectification not given? 

RTO Two’s experience: 
An existing  RTO lodged their CRICOS application before the changes of June 2018. The RTO was audited after 10 months and the RTO owners had to carry the cost of a 9B compliant building over this substantial amount of time. 
When ASQA audited the RTO they found a few rectifications and sent the audit report with the intention to cancel the RTO and the CRICOS registrations. The RTO then provided updated copies of the CRICOS documents requested and it was deemed 100% compliant. 
The RTO was still refused a CRICOS registration and treated as though the application had been lodged after the June 2018 changes. 
Questions that arise from this situation are: 

  1. Why would the June 2018 changes being applied to RTOs that lodged their application prior to that date? 
  2. Why are organisations having to wait 10 months or longer for ASQA audits? 
  3. Why were the CRICOS and ESOS documents were requested if ASQA had already made up their minds to refuse the application? 
  4. How will this help the Australian education and training sector? 

RTO Three’s experience: 

Disclaimer: Before you read this case study, please note, we strongly recommend all our clients and newsletter readers to follow regulatory guidelines and lodge your RTO and/or CRICOS application/s according to the guidelines of your regulatory body. 

In mid 2018 the CEO of a CRICOS RTO fell ill, therefore, the RTO was unable to lodge their CRICOS renewal application before the suggested 90 days prior to expiry . The RTO informed the regulatory body of the compelling and compassionate grounds, but ASQA did not consider the request and cancelled the CRICOS registration. 
When this was brought to our attention, we looked into the following areas and this is our observations: 
Criteria 1: Legislative and regulatory guidelines  
ASQA in exceptional circumstances has the ability to extend a registration. Please see the information below from the legislation:  \

The exceptional circumstances could include mitigating factors such as health. 
One would wonder why the RTO was not provided with an extension to lodge application when the CEO was indeed going through the health issues? 
Criteria 2: The guidelines and instructions from ASQA 
We then looked into the ASQA instructions and guidelines and found that: 
The legislative instrument to have a mandatory requirement to apply for renewal of a CRICOS registration 90 days prior only came into effect on 16 July 2019
It was published on ASQA’s website 22 July 2019 
The original draft was only released on 15 February 2019
Questions that arise from this situation are: 

  1. How is the regulatory body making its decisions? 
  2. How are they deciding who is and isn’t receiving registrations?  
  3. Are the regulatory guidelines being followed or are the decisions made based depending on the auditors desk it lands on? 
  4. Why are compelling and compassionate grounds no longer considered? 

RTO Four’s Experience: 
Letter from an RTO owner: 
We were recently advised by ASQA that a student had complained about our services so we had been reported to ASQA, and now have had a complete investigation completed by them on our RTO.
The student did attempt to blackmail us that he would “……go to VCAT if we did not give him his qualification”. He then threatened us again that he would “……go to ASQA if we did not give him his qualification”.
ASQA then accused us of not interacting and supporting our students. As an example we replied we have a record of over 100 emails and more phone calls offering the student feedback,  advice and assistance during his study.
The student failed an open book exam four times and I could not in good conscience give him the qualification as it was/is a  licensing requirement which meant he would have been licensed to work and run his own business.
One of the accusations from ASQA  is that we do not offer support to our students. We explained above, gave examples of his assessments which did not answer questions, contained answers to questions that were not included in the assessment ,gave evidence of up to four resubmissions still assessed as NYC. No reply from ASQA.
Another example student in addition to the above  was also provided to ASQA, where an email trail of over 60 emails of support to that student was evidenced/provided.
A second accusation (of several) is that we did not advise our students how the course will be run .
We only offer the course by distance learning. We stress this particular course is only run by distance learning no less than seven times.
This is confirmed in our:
-TAS – five times in the TAS it is stressed as distance learning only
– email reply to the student enquiry
-course summary – that is provided to every enquiry
-website-  as is required by ASQA
-our student support information – provided to every student.  No reply from ASQA.
A third accusation is that;
“the strategy did not demonstrate how the suggested elective units of competency contribute to a valid, industry-supported vocational outcome”
There are no electives in the current course , all are compulsory if the student wishes to apply for a licence so the course is pre set.
Yet another accusation is that we did not provide the price for the course. The price of the course is clearly presented:
-on the website as is required by ASQA
-in our PTR
-in the written reply we give to the student by email
-on the first line of our enrolment form.  No reply from ASQA.
We have attempted to contact ASQA repeatedly by email and by phone…. No reply from ASQA
We received an email from ASQA eventually, it stated we had to cease operation by the end of the day….. in 3 1/2 hrs.
A number of other accusations state we are non compliant for a number of reasons yet……
Our last two ASQA audits had  no recommendations.
Our last ASQA audit,  just over a year prior,  was completed and assessed as ‘no recommendations.’
We have not changed our policies and procedures or practices since that last audit,  which confirms that ;
we are  compliant
the last two ASQA auditors got it all completely wrong on two different occasions
 …… something else???  We are a small RTO.
Questions that arise from this situation are: 

  1. If the last two audits had no recommendations and if they (RTO) have not changed the policies, procedures and practices then what changed in the third audit? 
  2. How can a regulatory body ignore the evidence provided by the RTO regarding the student complaint and support provided? 
  3. How can the regulatory body ask for suggested electives when it is a licensed course and all units are core, therefore, compulsory. 
  4. What additional places could the RTO have published details of their course price? 
  5. In what additional places could the RTO have published their delivery mode? 
  6. How can a regulatory body ignore several attempts of communication and close an RTO down in such a short timeframe? 

These RTO experiences published in this article are forwarded to us by RTO representatives with their permission to publish.  Names and identifying details have been withheld to protect the privacy of individuals. These are not our direct clients, and we have not provided any advice legal or otherwise, with regards to the individual cases.   
Although the writer and publisher have made every effort to ensure that the information in this newsletter is correct at the time of publication, the writer and publisher do not assume and hereby disclaim any liability to any party for any loss, damage, or disruption caused by errors or omissions, whether such errors or omissions result from negligence, accident, or any other cause. For your individual RTO matter, please speak with a legal representative and/or RTO consultant. 

INTERVIEW: Dianne Dayhew CEO, National Apprentice Employment Network

Dianne, in a nutshell, what has been your experience of working in the training and education industry?

I have worked in training, education and employment since the mid-1990s. I have seen many ministers, governments and policies come and go, great initiatives start, gain traction, and disappear. One thing about vocational education and training is that it is heavily impacted by government policy changes, and my career has adapted and changed often as a result of such changes.

The wonderful part has been working with colleagues who are extremely committed to vocational education and training, and the joy of seeing careers for young people and others in mid-career kick off as result.

What is the purpose of the National Apprentice Employment Network and how can training organisations benefit?

The purpose of the National Apprentice Employment Network is to advocate on behalf of employers of more than 25,000 employers of trainees and apprentices from diverse backgrounds and locations across Australia who are employed through Group Training Organisations (GTOs).  GTOs provide an employment safety net for trainees and apprentices to assist retention and completion through supported pastoral care.

The GTO is the legal employer of the trainee or apprentice as part of a training contract with the training provider, which is lodged with the State or Territory Training Authority.  The GTO has a separate agreement with a business or organisation to “host” the employment of the trainee or apprentice and release them for formal training and assessment on or off-the-job.

Some GTOs are also registered as training providers to deliver qualifications for their trainees and apprentices.  Most GTOs have arrangements with external private training providers or TAFEs to deliver training and assessment.  Like all customers of training providers, collectively GTOs in the NAEN network are prime clients seeking quality training delivery and outcomes.

Can you please let us know how NAEN works with Group Training Organisations (GTOs), employers, apprentices and trainees?

GTOs which belong to a state or territory Apprentice Employment Network are eligible to apply for NAEN membership, being the peak national body. Membership of our national association is extremely important to GTOs. With their operations at the whim of state territory and Commonwealth funding, NAEN is the communications channel between the Commonwealth government and GTOs.

We immediately relay important policy announcements and funding opportunities to members, and advocate on their behalf to government and parliament. This ensures that GTOs play a significant role in national trainee and apprentice initiatives. 

How is your current role different from your previous roles?

Like many looking back at their career, mine has traversed many directions that now seem extremely relevant to my current role.

I have worked in many sides of education, industry training and employment, and have been employed in both industry and government entities. This includes educator, training programs marketer, field officer, manager, senior executive, policy and research writer, organisational development programs designer, industry stakeholder coordinator, board director and chair, and now CEO of a national peak body. I have an appreciation of the value of both accredited and non-accredited training as linchpins to strategic workforce development.

All roles have stemmed from my core belief that education transforms lives and accelerates careers. Vocational education and training provides workplace learning that is meaningful, applied, reinforced, recognised and rewarded. I have personal experience of providing dream career opportunities through the support of a GTO, making my current role as NAEN CEO highly motivating.

Let’s go back to the training and education industry. What do you think are the main threats to training organisations in the current environment?

Taking note of the futurists, we are all in the same boat working in a volatile and unpredictable world that is changing faster than we can plan.  Resistance to change is a threat to all businesses, and reluctance to adopt new business models to maintain relevance is another common challenge.

Training providers operate in a highly regulated and competitive market and are at the mercy of policy changes from both Commonwealth and State or Territory governments.  These can be viewed as both opportunities and threats.

The status of VET versus higher education is an ongoing concern. Compliance with standards is also crucial, but we must remember to focus on the person receiving the training. They need support, recognition and reward.  National qualifications mean consistency, and the experience of the participant should adequately reflect the national standards expected by their chosen industry.

As we watch VET reform play out for another episode, we are now hearing leaders talk about candidates needing better options for lifelong learning, and that options from both VET and university should be promoted.  We have to think about what this means for the apprenticeship model. Traditional models of training may be turned upside down and rearranged and integrated across education levels. I don’t know if we are ready for this.  And how do we train people with the skills for jobs that haven’t been invented?

As an industry leader, what are your views on how we can improve the vocational education and training sector in Australia?

When things get a little confusing and overwhelming, it is useful to go back to the beginning and review our vision, mission and purpose. The Joyce Review seems to be redirecting us to do just this, and our hopes lie with all states and territories coming on board to support national reform.

The VET Fee Help period was a turning point for all of us, and a great reminder to focus on our participants.  Training young people is not about making money, it’s about transforming lives.

Dianne Dayhew


National Apprentice Employment Network

ELICOS for the International Students (Part 3 of Part 3)

In the last newsletters we discussed the following: 

  • What is ELICOS and what it stands for 

  • Who ELICOS applies to? 

  • What is the definition of ELICOS?

  • What is included in the ELICOS? 

  • What are the benefits of having ELICOS programs on scope 

  • Guidelines for regulatory authorities 

  • What are ELICOS providers and their types?

  • The status of English Language Teaching in Australia 

  • Can ELICOS and VET Co-exist?

  • English language requirements to enrol in the course and length of the course

  • What resources usually ELICOS students require? 

In this article, we will discuss the following: 

  • Understanding the ELICOS Standards

ELICOS Standards in a nutshell

New standards for English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students (ELICOS) have been developed by the Australian Government Department of Education and Training (DET).

The ELICOS Standards 2018 came into effect from 1 January 2018, for existing and new providers (and comes into effect from 1 March 2018 for transitioning providers – i.e. providers to which the ELICOS Standards did not apply prior to 1 January 2018 but are assessed by a ESOS Agency, such as ASQA, to be delivering an ELICOS course). 

The ELICOS Standards seek to enhance Australia’s reputation as a source of quality education to international education markets and assist in attracting high-quality international students to Australia.

The National Standards for ELICOS providers and courses (ELICOS Standards) are guidelines for regulatory authorities to make recommendations for acceptance of providers to be registered on the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS) under the ESOS legislative framework.

Standard C1: Mandatory requirements for course applications 

This standard talks about the mandatory requirements on ELICOS applications. All course applications must be fit for purpose and must include the following information: 

  • Course name

  • Course component

  • Copyright information 

  • Course duration (expressed in weeks)

  • Course purpose

  • Relationship with other course(s)

  • Details of any articulation arrangements 

  • Profile of target learner group, including arrangements to meet the learning needs of students of different age groups and learning capabilities

  • Course outcomes expressed in learner-oriented terms

  • Course entry requirements

  • Strategy for monitoring student learning progress

  • Strategy for assessing achievement of learning outcomes including policies and procedures, materials and resources

  • Samples of certification of completion and partial completion that set out the CRICOS course name, levels of achievement or proficiency, course duration, date of completion, name and contact details of the registered ELICOS provider, and name and title of the signatory

  • Modes and methods of course delivery

  • Course structure demonstrating that it meets the minimum requirement of 20 hours face-to-face scheduled course contact per week, as well as any other study requirements and any scheduled breaks

  • Course syllabus that provides a statement of the purpose and objectives of the course, expected learning outcomes, subjects, structure and assessment of learning and progress

  • Strategy for ongoing course evaluation and review

  • Experience and qualifications of course teachers

  • Key and supplementary teaching resources

  • Maximum course fee

Standard P1: Scheduled course contact hours

Written agreements between registered ELICOS providers and students must provide accurate information to students on scheduled course contact hours (minimum of 20 hours of face-to-face contact per week plus any other scheduled course contact hours as a requirement of the course) for the ELICOS course.

Standard P2: Needs of younger ELICOS students

This standard is applicable if you enrol students under the age of 18. The operations of the provider should be appropriate for the age, maturity and English language proficiency of the students. The facilities, operations, equipment, course materials and tutoring must meet the needs of students of different ages, maturity and levels of English language proficiency. 

Standard P3: Teaching ELICOS and Standard P4: Assessment of ELICOS students

Your training organisation must have appropriate policies and procedures to provide students with optimal opportunities for achieving successful outcomes. The policies and procedures required under this standard are: 

  • English language testing and class placement 

  • Special needs and requirements 

  • Teacher to student ratio

  • Learning outcomes – access and documentation

  • Resources and equipment available

  • Student support

  • Research course content and developments in English language 

  • Retention and accessibility of records

  • Review, revision and delivery of course outcomes

  • Formative and summative assessments 

  • Regular reporting on course outcomes 

  • Course completion (partial and full) 

  • Continuous improvement 

Standard P5: ELICOS Educational Resources

This standard discusses the requirements to have sufficient educational facilities, equipment and support resources. This can include a range of multimedia tools, using varied learning activities and teaching methodologies, addressing the needs of learners, reflecting the new developments in TESOL theory and practice, educational and computer technologies, independent study practice and research, teacher study, research and preparation, catalogued material available for easy access, equipment and resources to facilitate independent study (study areas, wi-fi access etc.).

Standard P6: ELICOS Specialist Staff

This standard is all about ELICOS providers to employ suitably qualified specialist staff and to provide them ongoing opportunities for professional development. The academic management system must follow the requirements mentioned in the standard. The requirements are established for senior academic leadership staff, ELICOS teachers, counselling and general staff job-roles.  

Standard P7: ELICOS premises

The focus of this standard is to ensure ELICOS providers offer a suitable and appropriate premises. The premises of registered ELICOS providers should offer teaching and learning environments that are appropriately designed and equipped to support the range of English language courses and student support services offered. 

Standard P8: Business Management

This standard describes how the operations of the provider should support effective management actions and comply with relevant Commonwealth, state or territory legislation and other regulatory requirements that are relevant to its operations. 


Stay tuned for more… our coming newsletters will cover the following topics: 

  • Special edition on frequently asked questions and answers on ELICOS.

If you require assistance with ELICOS courses or would like to purchase ELICOS resources, contact us today at 

Third-Party Arrangements – What does this mean for your RTO?

ASQA has published an updated guide on third-party arrangements that will come into effect from 1 September 2019 for new third-party arrangements and 1 November 2019 for existing arrangements.

If you have an existing third-party arrangement, you should have already received an email from ASQA with information about the new requirements and the transition period.  

What do you need to know?

ASQA has provided a fact sheet – third party arrangements, which available by clicking on this link.  It discusses the changes and what RTO’s need to know.

What you can do:

  • An RTO can engage another RTO under a third party arrangement to deliver training and/or conduct assessment on their behalf, as long as:

    • the third party RTO has the relevant course on scope. 

  • An RTO can engage a non-RTO (either a natural person or legal entity) under a third party arrangement to deliver training and/or conduct assessment on their behalf, as long as:

    • this is done entirely in the RTO’s name and on the RTO’s behalf.

  • Trainers and/or assessors engaged by an RTO as an employee or contractor can deliver training and assessment for the RTO without being subject to the requirements in the Standards for RTOs that govern third party arrangements.

  • Services other than the delivery of training and conduct of assessment can be delivered using third party arrangements, providing these comply with the requirements of the NVR Act and the Standards for RTOs.

What you cannot do:

  • An RTO cannot engage a non-RTO third party to provide training and/or assessment for ‘VET courses of concern’ without prior written approval from ASQA.

  • An RTO cannot use a third party arrangement to avoid responsibility for compliance with the NVR Act or the Standards for RTOs and is wholly responsible for all services provided on its behalf.

  • An RTO cannot engage another RTO to deliver a VET course on its behalf, unless the third party RTO has that course on scope.

  • A non-RTO third party cannot offer to provide or provide a VET course under its own name. That is, a third party cannot:

    • advertise, offer to provide or provide a VET course in its own name

    • issue qualifications or statements of attainment in its own name or with its logo included.

In addition, ASQA have also provided a new General Direction – third-party arrangements for training and or assessment of VET courses, which you can find by clicking on the link.

This General Direction provides clarity and guidance on third-party arrangements permitted under the National Vocational Education and Training Regulator Act 2011 (the NVR Act).  It is a condition of registration that an ASQA registered RTO must comply with any such General Direction.

ASQA requires all RTO’s entering into a third-party arrangement to have a written agreement.  The Standards for RTOs require you to notify ASQA within 30 days of your RTO entering into, or cancelling, a written agreement with a third party.

If you have any concerns or questions, please contact ASQA at;

How does an RTO protect itself in this current climate?

RTO’s need to be prepared to weather any storm.  There are simple practices all RTO’s should be adhering to to ensure they are ready for whatever comes their way.

As an RTO the first step is ensuring that you understand the applicable legislation, standards and what best practice looks like.  For the VET sector these can include, but are not limited to:

  • Standards for RTOs 2015

  • National Code 2018

  • ESOS Act 2000

  • ELICOS Standards 2018

Without a thorough understanding you are not able to determine if your RTO is compliant or not.  It also means you are completely reliant on advice from colleagues, outsiders and consultants, which all have different opinions and their own agendas. Without knowledge you will not be able to decide what is good advice and should things change for the worst you will not  have the ability to defend you policies, procedures, training strategies etc it in an audit or at the AAT.

The next step is to ensure that all of your RTO’s documentation reflect the Standards and legislation.  This means that your RTO must be able to demonstrate you are compliant with all the relevant standards through verifiable evidence and a systematic implementation process.

This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Comprehensive Policies and Procedures

  • Implementation tools (systems, templates, flow charts, forms etc)

  • Evidence of practice (completed forms and templates etc)


There is always help available for your RTO

If you unsure or not confident with your understanding of the regulatory processes, ask for help!  Having professional advice can be an invaluable resource to your RTO. Utilising the experiences of a seasoned professional who is dealing with the regulatory bodies can give you access to a wealth of information for your RTO.  Having the right professional help can actually save you money, time and stress. Contact us to see how we can help your RTO.

What should the vocational education and training regulatory system look like?

Our belief is that a regulatory system should be based on the following principles: 

  1. Transparency: All audit reports should be made public on ASQA’s website. This will help establish a transparent vocational education and training system. 

  2. Consistency: ASQA should only make decisions within the regulatory framework.  There also needs to be a definition of what constitutes a minor non-compliance and what is major.  There is a need to adopt a strategic risk management approach and clearly define risks as low, medium and critical. 

    • Low and medium breaches like minor technical issues within resources, website, trainer documents, industry feedback or operations. These issues should be rectifiable and must not interrupt the operations of the training organisation or the outcomes for the students. 

    • Major breaches can be constituted as major non-compliance and organisations should be suspended and/or cancelled where there is evidence of financial mismanagement, fraud, or criminal activities. 

  3. Fairness: As a first instance administrative breaches should be rectified by employing a series of non-litigious channels.. For example, use an internal appeals mechanism as a step before an AAT application. Engaging an independent party with knowledge of the sector in question; including compulsory co-conferencing. 

  4. Professionalism: The VET regulator must work with the VET Sector not against the VET sector. A single point of contact for all communication enables the RTO to be able to work closely with the regulator to rectify any issues. All minor non-compliances needs to be handled quickly and efficiently ensuring that the RTO is able to continue delivering quality training.

  5. Adaptability: We need to understand that times have changed and there are many different ways learners access information and learning. There needs to be adaptability and acceptance on the regulators’ behalf to online or distance delivery modes as valid modes of study. 

  6. Equality: TAFE and RTO’s need be treated equally and have the same principles applied to them. There must be consistency in decisions. 

  7. Independence: The system should be based on quality principles only.  There cannot be ever changing decisions influenced by the personal or professional interests of the regulatory officers or politics of the day. 

  8. Quality: The focus should be on  quality, not just compliance. ASQA and other regulatory bodies must focus on all aspects of the VET system and not only compliance. 

  9. Conflicts of interest: ASQA officers, auditors and other regulatory officers cannot be allowed to also operate in the VET sector in positions where there could be a conflict of interest. Officers working with a government regulatory body cannot run their own VET business, whether as a consultant or as part of an RTO or sit on an RTO board.

  10. Responsibility: ASQA has a responsibility as a government department. They must develop Regulatory Guidelines that allow RTO’s to understand the processes of an audit without any grey areas in either the directions or audit processes and outcomes.

  11. Review rights: All RTOs irrespective of when their applications are lodged, must have rectification and reconsideration rights at their own costs. 

  12. Accountability: If a regulatory body and their representatives are not held accountable they will continue to damage Australia and the VET sector. Auditing practices should be reviewed against industry standards.

The VET regulator Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) gone rogue

The national vocational education and training (VET) sector regulator Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA), has been criticised by the Chair of the House of Representatives Employment, Education and Training Committee, Andrew Laming, LNP (QLD) Member for Bowman in a hard-hitting speech to parliament. According to the Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia (ITECA), the peak body representing independent providers in the higher education, vocational education and training sector, the views of Mr Laming echo those of most quality independent providers in the VET sector. 

Andrew Laming MP has roasted ASQA as a ‘regulator gone rogue’ wielding bureaucratic power without apparent rhyme or reason. 

Mr Laming‘s speech canvassed the experience of many providers in dealing with ASQA. It highlighted how award-winning RTOs are being accused of failing to meet regulatory standards for minor technical breaches of the legislation or on matters that have no bearing on student quality such as the colour of a logo on a website.

ITECA encourages all with an interest in the challenges facing quality RTO‘s to listen to the speech. It was made in parliament on 31 July 2019 and can be found online at: 

“The experience of many ITECA members can be found in Mr Laming’s comments. He‘s drawn attention to how ASQA‘s approach keeps good people running quality RTOs up at night,” said Troy Williams, ITECA Chief Executive.

Mr Laming‘s speech highlighted how many quality RTO‘s face the wrath of ASQA for compliance issues that have little to no outcome on the provision of quality providing of training to students.

“ITECA isn‘t calling for the regulatory system to be wound-back, simply that the approach of ASQA be modified to focus less on what Mr Laming correctly called administrivia,” Mr Williams said.

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

The work of ASQA was considered in the report Strengthening Skills: Expert Review of Australia’s Vocational Education and Training System authored by Mr Stephen Joyce and commissioned by the Australian Government. ITECA believes this report sets a roadmap for reform that will help quality RTOs.

“ITECA and our members are supportive of the board direction set out in the Joyce report and we‘re comforted by the engagement that we‘ve had at a Ministerial and departmental level to assist the government develop an appropriate response,” Mr Williams said.

Steven Joyce has delivered counter-punch speech regarding ASQA to the National AEN conference held on the Gold Coast. Steven Joyce was one of the most senior ministers in the John Key-led National Government in New Zealand. The Hon Steve Joyce had been appointed to undertake a review into the vocational education and training (VET) system. 

“It appears to me ASQA is increasingly using the AAT as a vehicle for extinguishing RTOs simply by legal costs and reputational damage and delay,” says Andrew Laming in the video link provided above. In what CEO of ITECA Troy Williams called ‘a perfectly sensible recommendation’, Steven Joyce has also called for ASQA to be subject to an independent review of its performance.  

Providing an overview of his independent review of the sector, Joyce stated the biggest issue appears to be a lack of confidence in the sector and a vast difference between what ASQA thinks is going on in the sector and what RTOs on the ground perceive to be the issues.

With a program of structured reform in place, Joyce advocates that there is a ‘massive opportunity for VET reform and apprenticeship growth’.

ASQA was also the subject of a lengthy critical article by consultant Claire Field (“VET regulation that’s clear as mud”) in The Australian on 7 August. She calls for “the publication of all ASQA audit reports … to allow the sector to confirm the veracity of auditors’ decisions and provide proof that ASQA’s audit practices are nationally consistent.” Ms Field also writes that, “Swift and genuine implementation of the other recommendations of the Braithwaite review is also urgently needed,” as well as “cultural change within ASQA.”