ASQA Rapid Review Report – Key Takeaways
The ‘Rapid Review of the Australian Skills Quality Authority’s Regulatory Practices and Processes’ is a recent report prepared for the Department of Education, Skills and Employment that takes a look at ASQA’s regulatory approach.
We analyse some of the key recommendations for ASQA reform offered by the report, such as:
Read on to learn more.
The Australian Skills Quality Authority, Australia’s national VET regulator, and Australian training providers have both come under scrutiny in recent years for issues around efficacy, consistency and quality.
The Joyce Review of 2019 noted that a significant upgrade was needed to the structure of Australia’s vocational education and training (VET) sector in order for the nation’s future skilling needs to be met.
One recommended area for improvement was the regulation of VET providers by ASQA, the body responsible for the regulation of the VET sector in Australia.
We take a look at some of the key recommendations made in the ASQA Rapid Review report, and what they could mean for Australia’s VET sector.
Promoting a culture of self-assurance in training providers’ routine operations
The report notes that the current VET operating environment focuses more on inputs and compliance controls, rather than the self-assurance of providers that their systems are working well to provide quality training outcomes.
This will require a major overhaul of the VET Quality Framework as a whole, but in the short-term, the report recommends making changes to ASQA’s regulatory approach.
These changes should assist providers to become more self-assured, with ASQA’s role being to test providers on their systems and processes.
Facilitating cooperation between ASQA, registered training organisations and other stakeholders
A lack of trust has been identified between the national regulator and other stakeholders.
Some recent policy, regulatory and industry failures have played a role in this breakdown.
ASQA has an educative role to play in this matter and should focus on engaging and educating others within the sector to collaborate on the design of new regulatory tools.
RTOs must also engage with ASQA to understand what expectations need to be met, and must act accordingly when non-compliance is identified.
Understanding provider performance in the context of their operating environments
The report then notes that a skilled workforce is needed to properly assess provider performance, with the relevant context in mind.
While those involved in ASQA’s audit process do not have to be from the VET sector themselves, they should share some of the same qualities such as critical thinking and sound judgement.
Strengthening the induction, training and internal quality assurance of ASQA auditors is suggested to improve the effectiveness of ASQA.
Improving the communication of regulatory decisions and advice
The review finds that ASQA’s audit reports are far too dense, and do not always effectively communicate to providers in a meaningful way.
There is also little information provided online on the reasons behind regulatory decisions, and common areas of non-compliance are not effectively communicated to the sector.
All regulatory decisions and advice, therefore, need to be communicated in a clearer and more consistent manner to improve the quality of the VET sector as a whole.
Coordinating and sharing information with other regulatory agencies, funding bodies and policy makers
Better collaboration needs to occur between policy makers and those who administer the law.
Some relevant bodies include the Senior Skills Official Network, Industry Reference Committees and the Skills Service Organisations, all of which provide critical feedback loops.
Sharing information with the relevant regulators and funding bodies will allow for a strategic response to any non-compliance that could be damaging to the VET sector.
Restructuring ASQA’s governance
Finally, the rapid review of ASQA concludes with the importance of restructuring ASQA’s governance.
The governance structure needs to support significant change and reformation, with these changes helping to strengthen oversight and managerial capacity, allow for reforms relating to engagement and education to be implemented, improve performance assessment, and take the necessary actions in response to non-compliance.
The Australian Government’s recent announcement of an expert advisory council will also improve the calibre of the advice offered to ASQA.
The ‘Rapid Review of the Australian Skills Quality Authority’s Regulatory Practices and Processes’ report provides short, medium and long-term measures for improving ASQA’s reputation as a reputable regulatory body.
By strengthening ASQA’s internal regulatory practices and processes, Australia will be able to enjoy a more robust and consistent VET sector.
We are hopeful that the ASQA reforms will go a long way in supporting the key reforms outlined in the new ‘JobMaker’ policy plan, that is said to provide changes in the skills and training sector.