ASQA Review A Damning Criticism Of A Regulator On Mend

The report of the rapid review o f the Australian Skills Quality Authority’s (ASQA) regulatory practices and
processes covers in painful detail the failings of the nation’s vocational education and training regulator;
however, it also presents a solid set of recommendations for renewal. That’s the view of the
Independent Tertiary Educati on Council Australia (ITECA), the peak body representing independent
providers in the higher education, vocational education, training and skills sectors.

“This is a landmark report and clearly articulates why there is a massive trust deficit between ASQA and
the ITECA membership. It highlights ASQA’s past policy and regulatory failures and uses these to chart a
future course for a regulator that’s more engaged with the sector and focussed on student quality than
administrivia,” said Mr Troy Williams, ITECA C hief Executive.

The review of ASQA noted that effective and consistent assessment of the performance of Registered
Training Organisations (RTOs) and the role of auditors was all important.

“ITECA’s member have relayed some real horror stories about their a udit experience where non –
compliance was assessed based on the colour of a company logo rather than the student experience and
the quality of training that was offered. That the report highlights the need to better train auditors to
given them an understa nding of the context of their assessment is pleasing,” Mr Williams said.

Although the report is a damning criticism of ASQA’s past performance, ITECA acknowledges the recent
efforts taken to improve the regulator’s engagement with the sector and its perfor mance.

“The report reflects some of the activities underway to ensure that ASQA is more fully focussed on the
issues that are important to students and providers. There is a shared interest in promoting quality and
the excellent outcomes that independent RTO s provide, and the report sets out a series of
recommendations that will be fundamental to this task,” Mr Williams said.

One of the biggest challenges that independent RTO s face is understanding the confusing and
contradictory requirements of ASQ A. This drive s ITECA’s constant calls for ASQA to play a more educative
role that, until recently, were ignored.

“Independent RTO s have a reputation for excellence and quality with little doubt that they want to be
compliant. The c hallenge is t rying to understand what ASQA considers compliance to be is often
impossible. That the report makes a series of strong recommendations that will improve ASQA’s
stakeholder engagement and education is therefore pleasing,” Mr Williams concluded.

The wor k of ASQA is of strategic important to the independent tertiary education sector that supports
some 80% of the 4.1 million students in vocational education and training across Australia.

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