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New Standards to come into effect this week

31 March 2015

Registered training organisations (RTOs) have been placed on notice by the national regulator that new Standards relating to student protections and recruitment come into effect this week.

Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) Chief Commissioner Chris Robinson has today written to the close to 4000 RTOs it regulates across Australia to remind them about the implementation of the Standards for Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) 2015 from Wednesday 1 April 2015.

Mr Robinson has particularly drawn RTOs’ attention to new arrangements relating to the use of third parties, including brokers and recruitment agents, and other issues RTOs must take into account when enrolling students.

“The new Standards have strengthened the requirements for RTOs to individually assess each prospective student to ensure that they have the capability, existing skills and competencies to be able to complete the training program,” Mr Robinson said. “Any RTO using a third party to recruit prospective learners must have a written agreement with that third party and the regulator must be informed of any such agreements. Each RTO must also have a documented plan and have developed resources that will allow it to systematically monitor the recruitment services.

“There are also clear requirements in the Standards relating to information about fees and government funding. If a third party is recruiting a learner into a qualification paid by VET FEE-HELP, the RTO is responsible for ensuring the information provided to a learner explains they will incur a debt. The prospective learner must understand how they will need to repay that debt, and they must also understand other implications of entering into a VET FEE-HELP arrangement.

“While brokers can play an important role in referring students to RTOs, it is essential that a proper assessment of each learner’s needs and capabilities is undertaken. RTOs are ultimately responsible for meeting the requirements of the Standards—including by making sure that this part of the enrolment process is being properly carried out.

Mr Robinson said ASQA would be placing a strong focus on RTOs’ compliance with these standards.

“RTOs that do not comply with the Standards at all times will be subject to regulatory sanctions from ASQA which, in serious cases, could include the suspension or cancellation of their registration.”

Mr Robinson said ASQA had published a variety of resources to assist RTOs in making the transition to the new Standards, including a comprehensive users’ guide, detailed transition and mapping information and responses to more than 200 frequently asked questions.

The authority also hosted more than 30 Information Sessions on the new Standards in late 2014 which attracted more than 3000 vocational education and training (VET) professionals and sector stakeholders.

All of the resources developed about the new Standards are available on ASQA’s website—www.asqa.gov.au.