The Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) is the national regulator for Australia’s vocational education and training (VET) sector. ASQA regulates courses and training providers to ensure nationally approved quality standards are met.
Two recent national reviews have focussed on the VET sector, including the role of ASQA - the 2019 Expert Review of Australia’s VET System (the Joyce Review), and the 2018 review of the National VET Regulator Act 2011 (the Braithwaite Review). Both reviews identified the need for ASQA to reform elements of its regulatory approach, in particular its engagement with the sector and its educative approach.
While in recent years ASQA has focused much of its regulatory effort on the poorest performing providers, and removing them from the market, there is now an opportunity to strengthen ASQA’s focus on building capability and fostering excellence across the VET sector.
On 30 October 2019 the Australian Government announced $18.1 million towards the reform of ASQA to support the fair, transparent and effective regulation of the VET sector, and high quality student outcomes. The reform is intended to:
- position ASQA as an effective modern regulator and to deliver on future reform directions agreed through the COAG reform roadmap
- improve and expand ASQA’s engagement with the VET sector and educative role to ensure training providers are aware of, and supported to understand, expectations and requirements
- ensure regulatory decisions are transparent, and that training providers have access to information and support to deliver good practice training and assessment
- improve ASQA’s collection and use of data to assist with identifying poor quality training providers, and
- better enable training providers to give feedback on ASQA (including directly to the Department of Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business).
Informing the reform
To inform the detail of the reforms, the department has engaged a regulatory expert to undertake a rapid review of ASQA’s regulatory practices and processes, and make recommendations for specific changes in line with best practice governance, regulation and engagement.
The rapid review will:
- evaluate the effectiveness of ASQA’s internal regulatory practices and processes (including ASQA’s Regulatory Risk Framework, how it undertakes audits, how it makes and internally reviews regulatory decisions, and processes related to the review of ASQA decisions)
- identify and recommend any changes to ASQA’s processes to support consistent, risk-based and contemporary regulatory decision-making and education
- identify and recommend any changes required to ASQA’s governance arrangements to clarify roles and responsibilities, improve accountability, improve efficiency of resources, and improve focus on strategic direction and performance, and
- identify areas in which changes could be made to the VET Quality Framework to drive improvements across the sectors.
The review is scheduled to be completed by early February 2020. Following the review, the reforms will be implemented over a 12-18 month period of change management.
Recent reviews have sought feedback from the sector on the role of ASQA in regulating the VET sector. This feedback has informed the scope and focus of this rapid review and will be closely considered by the regulatory expert.
The department welcomes any additional feedback from stakeholders relevant to ASQA’s internal regulatory practices and procedures. In providing feedback, stakeholders are encouraged to consider the following questions:
- How can ASQA best engage with the VET sector? What strategies could be adopted by ASQA to support best practice among training providers?
- What elements of its current educative approach are the most effective? How can ASQA best help training providers to understand their obligations?
- What elements of ASQA’s current regulatory approach do you perceive to be working effectively? What specific areas would benefit from further attention?
Feedback should be sent to ASQAreform@employment.gov.au by COB Friday 17 January 2020. This feedback will be provided directly to the regulatory expert engaged to undertake the review.