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ASQA to assess partners in applications

The Australian Skills Quality Authority will assess an institution’s partners when considering new applications for registered training organisations, in a move that has left some questioning the timing of the decision and accusing the regulator of having an adversarial approach.

SQA will include agents in its application process form 1 July, but the sector has questions the timing of the move. Photo: rawpixel.com

In 2017 ASQA received around 500 registration applications, rejecting about one in four

From July 2018, third-parties, including education agents, managers and consultants, will come under ASQA scrutiny in a ‘fit and proper’ declaration, which determines the behaviour of individuals in a position of influence, along with organisation’s owners and those with indirect ownership arrangements.

“Agents are an extension of an RTO and are often seen as the face of the provider”

The changes will “help people considering entering the VET and/or international education training market determine if they have the resources and skills needed to seek initial registration,” according to an ASQA media release.

The decision has received a mixed reception from Australia’s vocational sector, however, with the leading representative groups disagreeing on the benefit of the changes.

TAFE Directors Australia welcomes moves by ASQA to encourage only the best of providers committed to student outcomes apply to become an RTO,” said TDA chief executive Craig Robertson.

“Agents are an extension of an RTO and are often seen as the face of the provider.”

But ACPET chief executive Rod Camm called the move “poorly timed” saying that it could put considerable pressure on providers and “will put good providers at risk of closure, causing disruption to students”.

“More scrutiny is not required,” he said.

“While the VET-Fee Help debacle did expose problems of monitoring by government and regulators, what is required is a regulatory framework and approach that is designed to build the standards of education.

“This does not seem to be the approach of ASQA, which seems to be taking a more adversarial approach.”

Robertson meanwhile said that while the new process could be seen as anti-competitive, “the sector needs to enter a period of stability and this will help contribute to that.

“Organisations with a genuine interest in quality training need not be concerned.”

According to ASQA, last year it received around 500 registration applications, rejecting about one in four.

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