All RTO compliance officers and managers should be aware of the changes to the way ASQA audits RTOs which was implemented last year. This was a change which many in the industry have been calling for for years but only got the final push when the federal Treasury started adding up the numbers on what VET FEE-Help was really costing the country and got the non-VET regulators involved in the process, resulting in the dramatic exposure (and in some cases prosecution) of the worst of the large providers and prompting a complete overhaul of the VET regulation system.
The fundamental reason for this costly failure of the regulation system was finally revealed not be poor record keeping by RTOs but willfully misleading students into the best installment loans possible which they neither needed or even knew, or colluding with them to exploit the system. While the overhaul of the income contingent loan scheme (now renamed VET Student Loans) was a necessary step, there was a clear need to update the auditing and monitoring processes so that it would identify these practices by focusing on the student’s perspective. They ask the questions: “Did the students feel they were treated fairly and honestly; and were provided with a high quality training service which met their needs?”
The new auditing regime by ASQA (mirrored for the most part by the VIC and WA regulators) splits the main focus from rigorous and valid assessment processes to an even split between assessment and what has been called “the student journey”. In effect this means that RTOs need to keep records of all interactions with clients from the point of first contact to post-completion follow up, and ensure that at all times, the student is provided with correct information, offered and provided with all of the required options (prior learning, special needs, cancellation options, complaint and dispute handling, etc).
While this was always good business practice, only the documented process was reviewed at audit and rarely was the actual implementation examined. Our systems provide many ways to automate and record your interaction with students and employers. Please talk to us if you want to discuss how we can support you to implement these features and build a record of your “students journeys”.
When an RTO is scheduled for an ASQA audit, they are asked to provide details of the volume of students in each qualification and stand-alone units on their scope; and a list of student contacts (or a random selection of 1000 if there are more than that). This list must include course, email and phone numbers. The auditor actually contacts a selection of those students directly and asks them about their experience with the provider.
You can download the template here: ASQA delivery data and student survey data template
Many good providers are cheering this change on – finally they can be judged on their record of providing effective training and rigorous assessment, and making students and employers happy, and not just on the quality of their policy and procedures documents. Experience to date indicates that the new process is being effectively implemented and achieving real change. Hopefully over time this will restore the lost confidence in the training industry. It’s a good story and worth telling to anyone who will listen.
More details of the new approach can be found on the ASQA site here.