ASQA Review and VET Standards Consultation paper.

Well what a big week it has been with the release of the ASQA review and the Consultation paper on VET Standards, so which one to start on that is the question as I think no matter which one I pick and what I say there are certainly going to be a percentage of people who strongly and vocally disagree with me.

ASQA Process Review

A couple of points of note I think before I start looking at the review itself, firstly ASQA is a relatively young organisation having only commenced operations on July 1, 2011 and secondly, while it is referred to the National VET regulator, everyone knows that isn’t the sole regulator and does not have responsibility for all RTO’s across the country.  So onto the review; Firstly and I am going to come straight out and say this, I don’t think there is anything damming in the review, while there were 21 findings made in the review, they can and have been broken down into six main themes and when you examine the themes, a number of them have to do with things which are not entirely in the control of ASQA itself.  So lets look at the themes;

  1. ASQA’s existing ICT systems do not facilitate the most efficient and effective business processes for the future of ASQA as a regulator. – Implementing and maintaining efficient and effective ICT systems is something that affects almost all organisation at some point in the growth, be they Government, Private or NGO’s and as stated in the report ASQA has commenced an ICT transformation program.  As one looks through the actual findings in the review 10 of these findings relate to, or will be addressed by the ICT transformation program, so in essence almost half of the findings relate to systems issues to at least some degree.  I am sure that most of us have worked in organisations where ICT systems have not been as useful as they could have been and know the frustration for both internal staff and external stakeholders and clients.
  2. ASQA is constrained by a variety of factors in the regulatory architecture. These factors drive some process inefficiencies that impact its timeliness and transparency of operations. – ASQA operates under the requirements of two separate acts ESOS and NVR, having the government harmonise these acts would assist ASQA in its operations.  Again having worked in sectors where there were multiple acts which needs to be operated under, there is always limitations and inefficiencies that occur, particularly where there is a need for staff to move between acts.  This is more an issue about the regulatory system itself than it is about ASQA, the regulatory architecture itself makes the operating environment more difficult that it needs to be.
  3. ASQA has evolved its risk model, but requires additional data about the sector and ICT capability to deliver further improvement. – I don’t think anyone would argue that ASQA’s risk model is perfect, but this is a function of lack of data and the necessity for the model to be ‘Hand Tuned.’  The lack of data about the particular industries in which various RTO’s operate and the effects that this might have on the risk profile of an RTO’s means that ASQA’s risk model focuses almost solely on the provider itself, meaning that an RTO’s operating in a high risk environment like mining, is essentially modelled in the same way as an RTO delivering retail courses.  The ‘Hand Tuning’ of the risk model seeks to address this issue, but as indicated in something which has a range of limitations and is by its very nature somewhat subjective and definitely time-consuming.  Again however this risk modelling process is something, which with additional data sets and the ability to analyse that data more effectively should be improved markedly.
  4. A lack of coordination in training package updates issued by ISCs creates unnecessary work for Providers and impacts ASQA’s operations. – Yes yes it does and the lack of coordination of training packages and the way in which they are updated have always been an issue for the sector.  There needs to be a better system for dealing with package updates which make the process simpler and more efficient for both ASQA and the RTO’s.  However is this something, the blame for which can be laid at ASQA’s feet, no probably not.
  5. A lack of guidance and clarity about the rules for Standards and training packages is creating unnecessary work for ASQA and Providers. – Again, Yes, yes it is, but as indicated in the report ASQA are not funded to provide this guidance and therefore it seems difficult to take them to task for not providing this service.
  6. Communications with Providers are not fully effective. – Hand on heart and I have said this many times before, I have always found no difficulties in communicating with ASQA, however, I also know that other people have had a range of difficulties.  What is clear is that the majority, not the vast majority, the majority of providers think that communications are clear, effective, timely and accessible.  I would also agree with the two main issues raised, that is difficulty in obtaining information about your particular case, and the redirecting to the website.

So given these themes and the findings I think what becomes clear is that as I said earlier a large proportion of the issues around ASQA relate to data and ICT issues and with the exception of theme number 6, they are issues which are not entirely within ASQA’s control and even with theme 6 most providers seemed to be satisfied with ASQA and its processes.


Now onto the VET Standards Consultation Paper

Now to be fair I am only going to make some cursory comments on the VET Standards consultation paper at this point and will follow this up with a more detailed analysis early next week.  However, with that being said, what are the major changes proposed in the standards.

Well the first and most striking difference is that there is only 8 Standards, however it should be noted that some of the standards have quite a large number of parts to them, in general though they seem to make sense to me and clarify some of the issues that sat around the previous standards.  On of the things I am particularly happy is the requirement for independent validation of the delivery of TAE qualifications.  It makes sense to me and is something which I think is way overdue.

So with that little comment I am going to leave the Standards for the time being to give myself time to read over them in detail and make some more in-depth commentary early next week.

About pauldrasmussen
Paul Rasmussen is one of Australia’s most widely read Vocational Education and Training Commentators. He provides deep, unbiased analysis and insights not only on topical issues, but also on the underlying structure and policy which supports the industry. His writing and analysis has been praised for its uncompromising and thought provoking style and its ability to focus on the issues of real importance to the sector. He has advised various government departments and ministers, training providers, public and private organisations, not for profits and small to medium enterprises on the VET sector and the issues and opportunities facing it. He is one of Australia’s most awarded learning professionals and a regular speaker at a range of conventions and forums. His extensive experience in vocational education, and learning and development coupled with formal qualifications in philosophy, ethics, business and education management allow Paul to provide a unique view of the road ahead and how to navigate it.

One Response to ASQA Review and VET Standards Consultation paper.

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