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Fees and charges

ASQA applies fees and charges to certain regulatory activities to recover the cost of performing those activities. This enacts the 2009 Council of Australian Governments (COAG) decision that ASQA move towards operating as a full cost-recovery agency. 

ASQA’s cost recovery fees and charges comply with the Australian Government Cost Recovery Guidelines.

Fees and charges—frequently asked questions

What is cost recovery?

'Cost recovery' means that ASQA must recover the costs of performing regulatory activity through fees and charges. Cost recovery broadly encompasses fees and charges related to the provision of government goods and services (including regulation) to the private and other sectors of the economy.

Cost recovery must follow the Australian Government Cost Recovery Guidelines. These guidelines require that a cost recovery impact statement be prepared when significant changes are proposed to an existing cost recovery arrangement.

More information on cost recovery can be found on the Department of Finance website.

Why is ASQA a cost recovery agency?

The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) determined in 2009 that ASQA would initially be funded by partial cost recovery and progressively transition to full cost recovery.

This recognises the principle that organisations which benefit from regulatory action can reasonably be expected to contribute to the costs of that regulation. 

Do ASQA’s fees comply with the Australian Government Cost Recovery Policy?

As part of the approval process of ASQA’s fees, the Australian Government Department of Finance and Deregulation (DoFD) confirmed that ASQA’s 2015-16 Cost Recovery Implementation Statement (CRIS) complies with the Australian Government Cost Recovery Guidelines. 

Why have ASQA’s fees and charges increased from the original fees and again from the 2013 CRIS—Exposure Draft?

As a cost recovery agency, ASQA must undertake regular reviews to ensure that appropriate cost recovery is occurring. ASQA has undertaken such a review, taking into account additional funding that was provided in the 2012–13 Commonwealth Budget and increased cost recovery requirements. The review found that ASQA’s previous fees and charges were not generating appropriate revenue to recover the costs of regulatory activities. A revised schedule of fees and charges was published in the 2013 CRIS—Exposure Draft to more accurately reflect the cost of ASQA’s regulatory activities. 

Following release of the 2013 CRIS—Exposure Draft, further information became available on VET activity levels, which impacted the assumptions on which the fees and charges were based and required further adjustments to the proposed fees and charges. Adjustments were also made in response to issues raised in consultation. For a more detailed explanation of the changes, refer to the description of each fee and charge in the final 2013 CRIS (sections 5–8).

Were stakeholder submissions taken into account when finalising the fees and charges?

All stakeholder submissions were reviewed by ASQA and many possible adjustments to the fees and charges were considered. The changes that have been made are those within the scope of:

  • enabling an appropriate level of cost recovery revenue to be generated to offset the cost of undertaking each regulatory activity, and
  • maintaining compliance with Australian Government Cost Recovery Guidelines. 

The key changes made in response to stakeholder submissions are:

  • a reduced fee for transition applications where the qualification or unit of competency being added is deemed ‘equivalent’ (as determined by the relevant Training Package) to a superseded item on a provider's scope of registration, and 
  • adjustments to the annual registration fee brackets and amounts to address the equity of cost in relation to demand on services from small–large providers. 

More information about the changes to each fee and charge are outlined in the final 2013 CRIS (sections 5–8).

How cost-efficient is ASQA compared to former state and territory regulators?

As a comparison of ASQA’s efficiency, the former state and territory regulators operated with a regulatory workforce of around 230 full-time equivalent (FTE) staff in 2009–10 (including allowing for the transfer to ASQA of providers from Victoria and WA). ASQA has additional regulatory responsibilities (including cross-jurisdiction auditing, overseas auditing and strategic industry reviews) to those of the former regulators, yet is budgeting for staffing of 211 FTE staff in 2013–14, supported by a small number of additional FTE in the form of contract auditors. On this basis, ASQA is lower cost than the previous regulators. 

Why are CRICOS fees higher than RTO fees?

ASQA's fees relating to CRICOS registration reflect the cost of conducting CRICOS activities and the increased complexity of assessing CRICOS providers against the relevant standards.

Why is there no cap on the compliance audit charge?

The time taken to conduct and finalise an audit varies significantly depending on the scope of the audit, the availability of evidence and the findings and rectification processes required. As such, the compliance audit charge has not been capped. 

ASQA will make every reasonable effort to minimise the costs of conducting compliance audits. Audits will be undertaken as efficiently as possible and the provider can contribute to this efficiency by thoroughly preparing for the audit. ASQA intends to develop indicative benchmarks for its auditors to work to. These benchmarks will be developed once ASQA has collected sufficient data about compliance audits to provide accurate indicative timeframes. 

How can the cost of a compliance audit be minimised?

Providers subject to a compliance audit can take actions to ensure that the audit is completed as efficiently as possible. This includes allocating a staff member to liaise with the audit team, providing an appropriate work space for the audit team and having the information requested readily available. Providers may also choose to undertake a self-assessment prior to the audit to identify the type and source of evidence of compliance that can be presented to the audit team.

Will providers be given an estimate of the cost of the compliance audit prior to it being conducted?

ASQA cannot provide an estimate of the cost of a compliance audit prior to it being conducted as the cost will depend on the scope and findings at the audit which impact the time required to conduct and report on the audit. 

What costs are included in the compliance audit charge?

The charge for a compliance audit includes an hourly rate for the time spent:

  • conducting the audit at a provider site
  • completing follow-up work required (for example, the preparation of the audit report and reviewing rectification evidence if applicable), and
  • travelling to and from the audit. 

The charge will also include:

  • ASQA official travel costs (generally airfares, accommodation, car rental and meals).

What travel costs will be charged if a compliance audit is conducted outside Australia?

Providers subject to offshore compliance audits will be subject to ASQA official travel costs. These include:

  • reasonably incurred airfares
  • accommodation
  • ground transport such as car rental, taxi, train fares or private vehicle usage
  • meals, and 
  • any other reasonably incurred expenses. 

Providers will also be charged the travel time incurred by audit staff to conduct the audit. Travel time will be charged at the standard hourly rate for the compliance audit. 

ASQA will make every reasonable effort to group audits by location to minimise travel costs. 

When determining what travel costs are reasonable, ASQA must comply with the requirements of the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997 and Commonwealth Procurement Rules- 1 July 2012, to achieve value for money when purchasing goods and services, including official travel. In relation to official air travel ASQA must comply with the requirements of the Commonwealth’s policy on international travel.

Are providers charged for all complaints investigations?

No. Providers are only charged to recover reasonable costs of the complaints investigation when the complaint is substantiated. 

A substantiated complaint is a complaint whereby the allegations of the complainant are established as valid or proven, i.e. there is or has been a significant breach of an act or legislative instrument of which the ASQA has regulatory responsibility (e.g. the NVR Act, the Standards for NVR Registered Training Organisations, the Education Services for Overseas Students (ESOS) Act or the National Code). Students must first follow their RTO’s internal complaints and appeals procedures and provide their training provider with an opportunity to address the complaint. If, after exhausting the provider’s internal procedures, the student still believes the provider is breaching or has breached its legal requirements, the complaint will be considered by ASQA. 

Charges are only applied in relation to substantiated complaints about an organisation registered as an RTO. There is currently no legislative basis for ASQA to recover the cost of investigating complaints about providers registered on CRICOS. ASQA will advise providers in advance that a complaint has been received and an investigation is being undertaken.