Category Archives: VET regulation

VET sector to be ‘reformed’ again.

New-ish vision
Apparently the policy makers have had a vision and it involves VET. The recent meeting of COAG (Premiers of all states) agreed to a one-page high level statement that states ‘VET and higher education are equal and integral parts of a joined up and accessible post-secondary education system..’ The document abounds in conventional 20th Century wisdom and it is devoid of any of the inspirational rhetoric usually contained in a ‘vision’ statement. However, a COAG statement of any kind is like a starting gun. We can expect change in the sector.

COAG Vision for VET. Click here

The COAG Communique (9th August 2019) says ‘Skills ministers will work together through a new COAG Skills Council, in consultation with education ministers, to advise leaders on future reform priorities by the end of 2019 and provide a reform roadmap to COAG in early 2020.

Yep! Another high level body is to be created AND the sector is to be ‘reformed’ again.

Craig Robertson, CEO of TAFE Directors Australia, wrote a comment piece in The Australian about it. It comes from his professional perspective but does make a couple of points worth a ponder. Click here.

New VET Stakeholder Committee
This is a new advisory body (not the same body that is mentioned above – another one) that met together for the first time this month. Their mandate is to advise the Minister for Skills so that ‘stakeholder views are understood, considered and included during the implementation’ of reforms.

The full list of members can be found in the Minister’s media release. Click here

New approach for ASQA?
The departure of the Chief Commissioner heralds a possible change of direction for the regulator. The Deputy Commissioner, Saxon Rice, will act in the role of Interim Chief Commissioner. Legislative changes are also in the wind, so changes that directly impact RTOs can be expected in near future. 

Claire Field has also written an opinion piece for The Australian that comments on the opaque nature of current regulatory practice. Click here.

New VET research institute
The Mackenzie Research Institute is a new kid on the block, which has the goal of providing an evidence-based rationale for the reform of tertiary education in Australia. It is an independent body, although it has a strong TAFE focus, and intends to ‘actively produce policy-based research that challenges the existing tertiary framework in Australia’.  Watch this space. More information and initial research papers can be found on its website. Click here.

Can you sell an RTO?

The answer is ‘No’ and ‘Yes’. You can sell the business and assets, but you cannot sell the registration. RTO and CRICOS registrations are not transferable from one legal entity to another. This means RTO Pty Ltd cannot be sold as a functioning registered training organisation to XYZ Pty Ltd who then continue to operate merrily without Regulator approval. XYZ Pty Ltd would have to go through the initial registration process.

It is possible to sell shares in an RTO. The person acquiring the shares will be required to demonstrate, either upon takeover or sometime thereafter, how they will continue to comply with all regulatory requirements.

In all instances, ASQA must be notified via ASQANet within 90 days of the change. Be aware that ASQA has access to the ASIC database where ownership changes are registered. Some State government departments that manage funding contracts also have an automatic feed from ASIC about change of ownership, so it is important to know the State’s contractual requirements around notification. Some States require that they be notified before the change of shareholding/ownership.

More on ASQA website: click here

TGA set for a facelift

The National Register (training.gov.au) known as TGA, is getting a facelift. There is an opportunity to provide feedback. I am emailing these suggestions to the Department of Education and Training at the address for this upgrade project.
 
 
1. Remove email addresses
Currently TGA is a spammer’s best friend. Literally tens of thousands of email addresses are listed in the public domain. If you have ever wondered why you get so much spam to an email address that is listed on TGA, then it will be because spammers have scraped the site and sold your email address – many times. If your email address is visible (even in the back history) then it is scrapable. One list-selling company offers the email addresses ‘of all VET providers’ for $4,000 a year, updated regularly!
 
 
2. Consider privacy issue
This is the time to consider the information about executives that are published on TGA. Currently, whatever personal details that are collected by a VET Regulator automatically appear publicly on TGA. Surely it is one thing for the regulator to know how to reach the CEO of a registered organisation by telephone and quite another for that information to be automatically published and accessible globally. Telemarketers are also very pleased with TGA’s generosity.
The Australian Privacy Principles apply to the Department of Education and Training, which manages TGA, and VET Regulators, which collect the personal information. If an RTO were to publish the personal information of students on their company website, there would be an audit very quickly.
Even the names of people who own a 15% share in an RTO are now finding their names and email addresses on TGA. Seriously? ASIC has that information if anyone, outside of the regulator, wish to locate it.
 
 
3. Address audience confusion
TGA states that it has about 7 million visitors a year. It is highly likely that most of these visitors are RTO personnel. MySkills is the public face of the Australian training industry, not TGA.  A national register is all about the data, so it doesn’t need lots of bells and whistles – but compare TGA to the national register for early childhood education or the national register of higher education providers. There is much room for improvement.  A user-friendly interface that works more effectively for the visiting clientele and presents the sector in a more professional light would be an excellent step forward.
 
 
A targeted review of the website is underway and the federal government is keen to hear from the site’s users on improving the design and user experience of the website. If you would like to provide feedback (or also suggest any of these points), please send an email to this address.