Representing quality private education
providers in Australia

Regulation as A Business Improvement Tool

Monday, January 14 2019

ACPET National Monday Update – 14 Jan 2018
Troy Williams, ACPET Chief Executive Officer

During the past week, the Australian Council for Private Education and Training (ACPET) took a major step forward in supporting its members with the opening of our Canberra office.  This delivers upon the commitment set out in the 2018-21 ACPET Strategic Plan that recognises that the coming year will see significant debate and a real push to reform our education frameworks to foster innovation and meet the needs of Australia’s growing economy.

ACPET’s commitment to our members is not only to participate in this debate but to collaborate with other key stakeholders so that the collective voice of the independent tertiary education sector transforms the policy debate.  This is timely in the context of the current review of the Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector being undertaken by the Hon. Steven Joyce.  We’re currently working with our members to ensure that their insights are an integral part of the position that we take to Mr Joyce’s review panel.

The review presents ACPET’s members with an opportunity to secure reforms that deliver a regulatory framework where government is an enabler that uses compliance as a tool to support business to improve their processes and outcomes.

The report released last year into the National Vocational Education and Training Regulator Act 2011 (Cth) noted that providers see little connection between the actions they are taking to satisfy the regulator and their main business of delivering quality student outcomes.  This reflects the advice that ACPET has received from its members that an Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) audit is viewed as a process directed at ensuring strict administrative compliance and fails to fully assess the quality of student outcomes. 

ACPET is of the view that students and business are best served when an ASQA audit is seen as a business improvement tool.  The audit process should be an opportunity for the regulator and the provider to ensure that systems are refined to strengthen outcomes for students as opposed to something that’s just a box ticking exercise.  This requires new thinking on the part of both the ASQA and the independent tertiary education sector, which highlights the need for increased dialogue.

To ensure a regulatory framework is fit for purpose it’s important that there is proactive and regular engagement between regulators and business.  To this end, ACPET’s approach is to step-up engagement with ASQA so that together, outcomes are agreed, performance is monitored and there is a shared focus on quality.

The review into the National Vocational Education and Training Regulator Act 2011 (Cth) recommended that ASQA develop and implement processes and capabilities to proactively engage with Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) and other stakeholders.  The desired outcome is to improve the value of a student-focussed regulatory approach and to involve the sector in developing the regulatory culture that drives ASQA’s use of its legislative powers.  ASQA has taken some important first steps in this direction; however, there is far more that should be done to enhance dialogue between ASQA and the independent tertiary education sector.

In lobbying for reform, ACPET is using the experience of our members to work towards a regulatory framework for the VET sector that is based upon a risk management approach that ensures independent providers can deliver quality training outcomes while at the same time freeing business from an unnecessary regulatory burden.  The establishment of ACPET’s Canberra office is an important step in securing this.

Troy Williams FIML MAICD
ACPET Chief Executive
Twitter: @TroyWilliamsAus


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