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Background to ASQA's student-centred audit approach

ASQA's risk-based approach

Since our establishment, ASQA has adopted an increasingly risk-based approach to regulation, which has allowed us to direct our resources towards areas that pose the greatest threat to quality, and to minimise the regulatory burden for the majority of ASQA-regulated training providers.

ASQA’s Regulatory Risk Framework sets out a regulatory approach that more effectively manages the risk of poor-quality training and assessment. This approach uses data and intelligence to identify and target the most significant sector-wide (systemic) risks and providers of greatest concern.

In 2016 ASQA implemented a range of regulatory reforms to support this more contemporary approach to regulation, including the development and implementation of this revised audit approach.

Implementing the student-centred audit approach


ASQA's audit approach was developed through:

  • a review of contemporary and innovative regulatory models in VET and other industry sectors within Australia and internationally to learn from the practices of other regulators, with a particular focus on collecting and testing evidence of practice and behaviours and on gathering and using student or consumer input
  • extensive consultations across ASQA that drew upon insights from practical experience (including the audits of VET FEE-HELP and VET Student Loans (VSL) providers)
  • feedback from RTOs about the prior audit practice
  • a comprehensive review of ASQA’s business and regulatory practices and procedures, including legal proceedings.


A staged implementation took place from October through to December 2016 and—following revisions to incorporate the findings of its evaluation—was rolled out fully in 2017. The staged implementation built a body of practice to test and inform the new audit approach. During the staged implementation process, ASQA tested and evaluated the new audit model against a number of different audit types and RTO profiles.

A new audit reporting template and other tools were tested during this phase and refined based on the outcomes of the staged implementation. RTOs audited during the staged implementation were advised ahead of time about the new audit approach.

ASQA commenced implementing the revised approach for providers delivering training and assessment to overseas students in late 2017.


An independent evaluation of ASQA’s new audit approach in early 2017 found widespread support among providers and other stakeholders in the vocational education and training sector.

The evaluation endorsed all key features of ASQA’s new approach.

You can read the full evaluation summary report for more information.