Representing quality private education
providers in Australia

News is rarely ‘settled’ in the sector

Monday, June 25 2018

Last week saw the release (yes late on a Friday) of the Braithwaite report into regulation.

The report is voluminous however is well worth a read.

I will cover the details in future editions. For me though there is an alarming trend in regulation.

While ACPET remains committed to and supportive of a national regulator, there are issues to be addressed.

ASQA reports that only 46% of providers are passing audit, at the end of the rectification process. This type of failure rate (54%) has increased significantly, where in 2014 over 80% of providers were passing after rectification. The failure rate is also contradicted by the actual performance of independent providers. Independents delivered around 70% of four million enrolments in 2016 and achieved satisfaction rates comparable to TAFE.

It is difficult to comprehend how these outcomes can be achieved if 54% are failing the national standards

In my view the high failure rate shows a disconnect between the industry and ASQA. 54% of providers failing the audit process despite the opportunity to rectify demonstrates that providers do not understand what needs to be fixed, or that rectifications are not being considered.

The simple facts are that deregistration puts the RTO out of business and staff lose their jobs. Therefore, providers are very committed to do their utmost to comply. The fact so many still fail the process does not indicate that all of the providers are poor quality, it demonstrates a lack of understanding of what ASQA is looking for

This is where the Braithwaite Report comes in.

The report is not critical of ASQA, it manages with the cards it has been dealt.

However, the focus is much more on raising the standards of the industry rather than any narrow view of compliance. It talks about improved communication and dialogue with the sector.

A regulatory partnership is urgently needed between ASQA and providers. There is a breakdown and providers feel they have nowhere to turn to obtain clarity on what is required. Many will seek the advice of consultants, and yet the paradox is that ASQA apparently frowns upon their use.

Whispers in the industry talk about ASQA being of the view that there are too many RTOs. This is creating high levels of anxiety.

The industry has for some time been concerned about the cost of compliance. The high rate of failure is seeing an increasing rate of appeals to the AAT. Providers are often winning this process but it adds further to the compliance burden, putting more pressure on providers who are already experiencing financial stress as a result of the collapse of VSL spending and the withdrawal of State and Territory funding.

It is a significant concern for us all.

Rod Camm
Chief Executive Officer


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