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Audit process

Are state or territory occupational regulators/licensing bodies involved in ASQA audits?

A representative of a state or territory occupational licensing body may be invited to be part of the audit team and contribute to an ASQA audit as a technical advisor.

The technical advisor may provide ASQA with evidence-based recommendations.

Can I change a scheduled audit date if my circumstances change?

Audit dates can be changed in certain circumstances such as serious illness, however, ASQA will not change a date because it no longer suits a provider.

If you wish to change the date of your audit, you will need to contact your assigned auditor. The auditor will try to organise a new date within a one-month timeframe.

Can I have a copy of my audit report?

Yes, you will receive a copy of the audit report or evidence analysis when ASQA notifies you of the outcome of the audit.

Can providers give feedback after an audit?

Providers are invited to provide feedback through ASQA's Audit Survey. The survey is carried out quarterly, through an online questionnaire.

You can also contact ASQA at any time to:

  • provide feedback
  • request more information, or
  • lodge a formal complaint.

To provide feedback please email feedback [at] asqa.gov.au.

To make an enquiry (for example, about your registration), contact the ASQA Info line at enquiries [at] asqa.gov.au or on 1300 701 801.

To make a formal complaint about ASQA, complete and submit a Complaint about ASQA form.

How do I appeal an ASQA decision about my audit?

If you are dissatisfied with a decision made by ASQA, you have a number of options:

  • consider the reasons for the decision, address the outstanding areas of non-compliance and submit a new application (where the audit relates to an application)
  • ask ASQA to reassess its position (applies to certain decisions only)
  • ask ASQA to review the decision (applies to certain decisions only)
  • apply to have the decision reviewed by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT).

ASQA will inform you of your options when advising you of ASQA’s decision.

How does ASQA ensure consistency amongst its auditors?

ASQA constantly seeks to ensure consistency among its auditors and employs several formal processes to minimise the potential for audit variation, including:

  • Regulatory moderation workshops: these are focused on moderating issues that may lead to inconsistency in audit outcomes, and on sharing approaches to overcome these issues.
  • Auditor moderation log: a dynamic record of ASQA’s agreed position on compliance issues. Auditors refer to this log when making compliance recommendations.
  • Audit report guidance: to ensure consistency in audit report content, auditors refer to a guide, which focuses on reasons for non-compliance, action required, and analysis of additional evidence/response.
  • Other processes that contribute to audit consistency including an online auditor discussion board.

ASQA also promotes transparency and accountability in its audit program through undertaking quarterly audit surveys each year.

How much will my compliance audit cost?

Please refer to the Guide to ASQA’s fees and charges 2018–19 (PDF) for information about all audit charges.

What happens if non-compliances are found at an audit?

If ASQA identifies non-compliance, you may be given 20 working days to provide evidence that you have rectified that non-compliance.

ASQA will then consider this evidence

If you remain non-compliant with the required standards, ASQA will make a decision about what actions to take next. In making this decision, ASQA will consider your history of compliance and the risks associated with the non-compliance.

Actions might include:

  • applying a sanction or condition to your registration, and/or
  • rejecting your application.

The National Vocational Education and Training Regulator Act 2011 provides a range of sanctions of increasing severity—escalating from enforceable undertakings and additional conditions on registration through to suspending or cancelling the registration of an RTO.

As of 1 July 2018, the audit processes for initial registration and for changes to VET scope within the first two years of registration do not include an opportunity to correct and re-submit additional evidence if non-compliance is identified during the audit process.

What information will be included in my audit report?

Information in your audit will include:

  • the date and reason for audit
  • the names of the audit team members
  • the scope of the audit—standards audited and qualifications/courses/units of competency sampled
  • some background to the organisation and audit
  • names and roles of people interviewed during the audit
  • the audit findings at the time of audit (compliant or not compliant) and following the rectification cycle (compliant or not compliant)against each standard audited
  • an indication of where compliance was and was not demonstrated.

Where can I find information about ASQA audits and how to prepare for them?

Will ASQA assess my VET and CRICOS registration at the same audit?

In most cases, if you have submitted the applications simultaneously, ASQA will assess compliance with the requirements for both registered training organisation (RTO) and Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS) registration at the same audit. ASQA will audit according to the student-centred audit model and the five stages of the student journey and the relevant standards—Standards for RTOs 2015, the National Code 2018, and/or the ELICOS Standards 2018—for each stage.

Under ASQA’s student-centred audit approach, is my training provider still likely to have an audit when renewing registration?

When a training provider applies to renew registration, ASQA undertakes a risk assessment of the application. This includes reviewing the provider’s risk profile and a wide range of other sources of data and intelligence.

In some cases, the risk assessment may indicate that an audit is required. (The application may also be approved or rejected at the risk assessment stage—read more about renewal applications here.)

ASQA’s risk-based approach means that applications do not always trigger an audit. Rather, ASQA may audit a provider at any time if risk indicators raise concern about the provider.

How does the student-centred model apply to a training provider that does not exercise good practices, but enrols 'non-genuine' students who may not provide accurate information about these practices to ASQA?

ASQA’s intelligence sources, which inform regulatory action against RTOs with ‘non-genuine students’, will continue to include a wide range of sources, such as other government agencies and information and complaints from non-student sources.

While the focus of the audit model is the student experience, students are only one of many sources of data that informs ASQA’s audit process.

How does the audit approach work for students undertaking online training?

ASQA applies the same audit approach to providers where students undertake online training. The student survey is conducted online for all audits.

Is there going to be a revised set of standards drafted to better align to the student experience?

ASQA regulates providers against the Standards for Registered Training Organisations 2015 (as well as the National Code 2018 and the ELICOS Standards 2018 for some providers) but does not set these legislative requirements.

The Standards for RTOs 2015 are endorsed by The Council of Australian Governments’ (COAG) Industry and Skills Council (CISC).

The Council comprises the Australian, state and territory ministers with responsibility for industry and/or skills within their jurisdiction.

When future CISC reviews of the Standards are undertaken, ASQA will be likely to make submissions based on its regulatory experience, including its experience of developing and administering the student-centred audit approach.

Can consultants to the provider participate at an audit?

Yes, consultants can participate in an audit.

Student survey

Why can providers not share the survey report or results from the student survey?

Student surveys are used by ASQA to inform the scope of audits. Student surveys help ASQA to identify potential areas of concern that may need to be further looked into during the audit process.

Survey findings may also be used to identify appropriate students for further involvement (i.e. interviews) as well as to corroborate/support audit findings.

ASQA holds the copyright for student survey findings document and providers are not permitted to republish these survey results in any form, including on their websites. The survey results alone are not an indicator of a provider’s quality. As such, to publish them is potentially misleading and could inaccurately imply to students ASQA’s endorsement of an provider’s performance in a particular area.

What if students provide inaccurate responses to the student survey—what rights/opportunities do I have to reply?

The student survey collects information from students about their individual experiences.

An individual student’s survey response will not, on its own, result in a training provider being found non-compliant. Student survey responses are one of many inputs that inform the areas that ASQA uses to inform the audit process and identify areas of an provider’s operation that may be of concern.

If concerns with a particular area are identified through the student survey, ASQA will seek further evidence to support this information, including through student interviews in some cases.

The training provider has an opportunity to respond to findings and evidence outlined in the audit report.

Can an RTO provide ASQA with the results of its own student survey, or undertake the survey on ASQA’s behalf?

Auditors may look at any relevant internal survey results; however, whether or not a provider conducts internal surveys will not affect the requirement for ASQA to survey a provider’s students.

The student survey is administered by ASQA to ensure students are able to provide honest and accurate information about their journey to an organisation independent of the training provider.

Our students do not read emails—how will ASQA deal with this?

ASQA is seeking an average response rate of 10 per cent of students invited to the survey. If the response rate is not achieved, ASQA will seek to improve this rate through reminders, including text (SMS) reminders. ASQA may also ask the provider to encourage students to participate in the survey.

How will ASQA survey students with, for example, intellectual disability?

Where students have specific communication needs, ASQA will work with the provider to identify these and to determine the best way to seek information on these students’ experiences. ASQA may use alternative methods such as face to face or phone interviews.

Do the ASQA student surveys replace the learner questionnaire?

No, the requirement for providers to collect and submit data relating to learner engagement is a requirement of the VET Quality Framework/Data Provision Requirements 2012.

ASQA’s collection of data from students as part of the audit process is a separate procedure.

How will ASQA survey students who are studying English (i.e. students who may have very limited English capacity)?

The survey questions have undergone cognitive testing to ensure that they are easy to complete for most students, including students who speak languages other than English.

Where students have specific communication needs that make completing the survey difficult, ASQA will work with the provider to identify these and to determine the best way to seek information on these students’ experiences. We may use alternative methods such as face-to-face or phone interviews.

What happens if we do not have email addresses for students or former students (for example, some VET in schools students or former students for whom we have deleted the provider-issued email address)?

ASQA will also provide the survey link by text message/SMS.

Remedial action

I am a student and my training provider has asked me to complete gap training as the result of an ASQA audit. What does this mean?

When ASQA audits a training provider, we look at the quality of the training and assessment that the provider is currently delivering and has delivered to former students.

In some cases, ASQA will find that the provider has not delivered training and assessment properly for a particular qualification or for some students.

When this happens, ASQA may ask the provider to undertake remedial action to make sure that their current and former students have received the quality of training and assessment that they are entitled to.

In some cases, a training provider may offer students ‘gap training’ or the chance to undertake ‘gap assessments’ to allow the students to develop the skills and knowledge they need. This gap training helps students to make sure that they have the required skills and knowledge expected for their qualification.

Training providers may offer gap training to current students, or students who have graduated in the past six months.

To ensure credibility of qualifications from the VET sector, training providers must meet the requirements of the AQF Qualifications Issuance Policy, which states that issued qualifications and statements of attainment can be revoked under the terms of the issuing organisation’s policy.

Training providers must have controls in place to ensure qualifications, statements of attainment and records of results are not issued unless the learner has completed all requirements. This means in some cases, a training provider may seek to revoke a qualification where a learner has not completed all the requirements.

I am a former student who has completed a qualification, and now my RTO is approaching me and asking me to complete gap training. Do I have to complete the gap assessments?

Students who have already graduated may be asked to undertake ‘gap training’ or ‘gap assessment’ by their former RTO.

This means the RTO has identified a ‘gap’ in the student’s training and/or assessment and the RTO is seeking to help the student remedy that gap. RTOs may need to offer this training and/or assessment to current students or students who have graduated in the past six months.

Students are not obligated to undertake gap training offered by an RTO if they are no longer enrolled. However, in accordance with the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF), RTOs must have controls in place to ensure qualifications, statements of attainment and records of results are not issued unless the learner has completed all requirements. This means in some cases, an RTO may seek to revoke a qualification where a learner has not completed all the requirements.

Students should also consider that their original training may not have provided them with all the skills and knowledge that they need. Gap training and assessment can provide students with the opportunity to supplement or improve the skills and knowledge they developed when undertaking their qualification.

Students should not be charged a fee for gap training or assessment provided by an RTO beyond the original enrolment fee.

What happens if an RTO’s assessment of the impact of non-compliance is different to ASQA’s assessment of the impact of non-compliance?

This is something that can be addressed in the rectification process; however, ASQA will move forward with the audit assessment of the impact and expects that RTO undertakes the required remedial action.