Be assured, says Claire Field, ASQA still has sanctions


Self-assurance does not mean “no assurance”

Regular CMM readers will know I have a surprisingly positive view of the ASQA Rapid Review (CMM May 6)

However, I have started to hear concerns that the Review’s focus on “RTO self-assurance”, as well as on ASQA taking an educative approach, will lead to quality problems.

To my mind, that is a misunderstanding of the Review’s recommendations.

In short:

* self-assurance does not mean “no assurance” by ASQA – instead it means a regulatory approach which tests how well providers self-monitor and manage their operations, and

* an educative approach does not mean ASQA will not impose regulatory sanctions.

As the architect of the Australian VET system, Terry Moran, stated in his 2018 Capability Review of TAFE SA, “more emphasis and resources should be applied to developing professional educators in capable training organisations within a strategically-led national system. It is therefore imperative that the VET system moves quickly towards a new style of regulation, directed towards the professional capability of RTOs, rather than a deadening attempt to micro-manage delivery in a highly prescriptive manner.”

TEQSA’s regulatory approach and that of the New Zealand tertiary education regulator (the NZQA) were examined in the Rapid Review. Both regulators are more transparent than ASQA and both also operate regulatory systems which reward providers which have strong internal systems and organisational capability – and take action against weaker providers.

The recommendations of the Rapid Review will enable ASQA to do the same.

With respect to this new approach the Reviewers noted, “while this supports a more proportionate response (and encourages self-reflection and return to compliance by the majority of genuine and willing providers) ASQA still needs to retain its capacity to take significant and immediate action in the event that providers are not genuine or otherwise represent a significant risk to the achievement of VET outcomes.”

 Claire Field advises on VET, international education and private higher education