Concerns about the competency levels of Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) officers and auditors

November 14, 2019

The VET industry has some serious concerns regarding the competency of ASQA’s officers and auditors. We would like to look into this with some facts, records and figures. 

 

Qualified auditors with Senior VET Experience - are they qualified enough?

 

Unfortunately, the regulatory body has moved away from recruiting officers with a background in the education sector or even relevant industry experience to be able to effectively audit training organisations. Now questions have to be asked with regards to how auditors are selected and engaged by ASQA. 

 

ASQA hires Lead Regulatory Officers to lead and supervise audit teams; make recommendations about RTOs compliance; make recommendations for the Commissioners but, as shown below, successful applicants are not required to hold the legislated mandatory qualifications.

 

 

If applicants do not hold the legislated qualifications at the time of engagement what process does ASQA use to put their regulatory staff through their qualifications? 

 

According to AQF guidelines, Certificate IV and Diploma require a minimum of 1.5 years/1800 hours, up to 4 years in total/4800 hours to complete. So, does that mean that ASQA staff receive 4 years of training before they are in a position to recommend the shut down of Australian companies? Who issues the qualifications? Who are the RTOs?

 

 

When Mark Paterson, AO, commented on the first-ever strategic review as Chief Commissioner, "a review of issues relating to unduly short training", did anyone review ASQA’s own recruitment practices or compliance with the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) and other relevant guidelines? 

 

Auditor interpretation and decision consistency: Forget nationally consistent decisions, two auditors cannot reach the same decisions  

 

No two auditors think or act the same way. We were shocked to see how inconsistent their findings and views are on the same clause and regulatory standard. If these auditors have such a difference in opinions then how can a regulatory body comply to its core values and source or even its existence? 

 

ASQA was established on the following grounds under the National Vocational Education and Training Regulator Act 2011: 

 

The Section 2A Objects of the Act: 

 

The objects of this Act are:

 

(a)  to provide for national consistency in the regulation of vocational education and training (VET); and

(b)  to regulate VET using:

(i)  a standards‑based quality framework; and

(ii)  risk assessments, where appropriate; and

(c)  to protect and enhance:

(i)  quality, flexibility and innovation in VET; and

(ii)  Australia’s reputation for VET nationally and internationally; and

(d)  to provide a regulatory framework that encourages and promotes a VET system that is appropriate to meet Australia’s social and economic needs for a highly educated and skilled population; and

(e)  to protect students undertaking, or proposing to undertake, Australian VET by ensuring the provision of quality VET; and

(f)  to facilitate access to accurate information relating to the quality of VET.

 

A common misconception in the industry is that ASQA exists to protect and promote quality in the sector.  However, the act clearly outlines, it exists to protect and enhance quality, it exists to provide national consistency in its decisions, it exists to encourage and promote a VET system that provides quality, flexibility and innovation. 

 

We believe all decisions where two auditors have not reached the same conclusion or outcome should be considered as “null and void”. These decisions should not have any legal or ethical standing. 

 

Not having nationally consistent decisions - Are not these clear signs of the incompetence of the regulatory officers and auditors? 

 

If two auditors cannot agree on something and provide completely contradictory statements and judgements, then how can this current regulatory body provide for national consistency in the regulation of vocational education and training (VET); and regulate VET using: (i) a standards‑based quality framework; and (ii) risk assessments, where appropriate; and (c) to protect and enhance: (i) quality, flexibility and innovation in VET; and (ii) Australia’s reputation for VET nationally and internationally; and (d) to provide a regulatory framework that encourages and promotes a VET system that is appropriate to meet Australia’s social and economic needs for a highly educated and skilled population; and (e)  to protect students undertaking, or proposing to undertake, Australian VET by ensuring the provision of quality VET; and (f) to facilitate access to accurate information relating to the quality of VET. 

 

How many of these requirements is ASQA currently meeting? 

 

Is ASQA able to provide national consistency in the regulation of vocational education and training (VET) even after eight years of registration? 

 

Is ASQA able to regulate VET using a standards‑based quality framework; and risk assessments? 

 

Is ASQA able to protect and enhance (i) quality, flexibility and innovation in VET; and (ii)  Australia’s reputation for VET nationally and internationally?

 

Is ASQA able to provide a regulatory framework that encourages and promotes a VET system that is appropriate to meet Australia’s social and economic needs for a highly educated and skilled population?

 

Is ASQA able to protect students undertaking, or proposing to undertake, Australian VET by ensuring the provision of quality VET? 

 

Is ASQA able to facilitate access to accurate information relating to the quality of VET?