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Third party arrangements

Registered training organisations (RTOs) often work with other organisations (third parties) to deliver a range of services, including training and/or assessment.

The requirements of the National Vocational Education and Training Regulator Act 2011 (NVR Act) specify limitations on the types of third-party arrangements an RTO can have.

In addition, the Standards for Registered Training Organisations 2015 (the Standards for RTOs) set out requirements for how these arrangements must be managed.

This fact sheet explains in brief:

  • the implications of the NVR Act in relation to third party arrangements
  • the type of third party arrangements an RTO can enter into
  • the type of third party arrangements that are not permitted
  • what to include in written agreements with third parties.

NVR Act and third party arrangements

Sections 93 and 94 of the NVR Act set out that it is an offence for an RTO to provide, or offer to provide, all or part of that VET course without registration. This means that an RTO cannot engage another (‘third party’) RTO to deliver a VET course, unless the third party RTO has that VET course on scope.

Sections 116 and 117 of the NVR Act set out that it is an offence for a non-RTO to provide or offer to provide all or part of a VET course. RTOs can engage employees and contractors to deliver training and/or assessment, if this is on behalf of the RTO and in the RTO’s name. However, a non-RTO cannot ‘use’ the RTO’s registration to offer a VET course in its own name or on its own behalf.

ASQA has provided details of the implications of the NVR Act for RTOs’ third-party arrangements in the General Direction—third party arrangements for training and/or assessment of VET courses.

Working with third parties: What RTOs need to know

YES

An RTO can engage another RTO under a third party arrangement to deliver training and/or conduct assessment on their behalf, as long as:
  • the third party RTO has the relevant course on scope. 

YES

An RTO can engage a non-RTO (either a natural person or legal entity) under a third party arrangement to deliver training and/or conduct assessment on their behalf, as long as:
  • this is done entirely in the RTO’s name and on the RTO’s behalf.

YES

Trainers and/or assessors engaged by an RTO as an employee or contractor can deliver training and assessment for the RTO without being subject to the requirements in the Standards for RTOs that govern third party arrangements.

YES

Services other than the delivery of training and conduct of assessment can be delivered using third party arrangements, providing these comply with the requirements of the NVR Act and the Standards for RTOs.

NO

An RTO cannot engage a non-RTO third party to provide training and/or assessment for ‘VET courses of concern’ without prior written approval from ASQA.

NO

An RTO cannot use a third party arrangement to avoid responsibility for compliance with the NVR Act or the Standards for RTOs and is wholly responsible for all services provided on its behalf.

NO

An RTO cannot engage another RTO to deliver a VET course on its behalf, unless the third party RTO has that course on scope.

NO

A non-RTO third party cannot offer to provide or provide a VET course under its own name. That is, a third party cannot:
  • advertise, offer to provide or provide a VET course in its own name
  • issue qualifications or statements of attainment in its own name or with its logo included.

Written agreements

Why does an RTO need a written agreement?

Clause 2.3 of the Standards for RTOs requires that ‘the RTO ensures that where services are provided on its behalf by a third party, the provision is the subject of a written agreement.’

An RTO must have a written agreement where a third party delivers services on their behalf. The definition of third parties does not include:

  • contract arrangements with the RTO’s trainers and/or assessors (whether they are employees or contractors)
  • workplace supervisors who contribute to evidence collection and/or delivery of training and/or conducting assessment in the workplace.

What should a written agreement for third party services include?

The written agreement with a third party should include:

  • the names of the RTO and the third party
  • the start and end date of the agreement
  • clauses detailing both parties’ obligations under the agreement, for example, making clear that:
    • any training and/or assessment is provided in the name of the RTO, not the third party
    • the third party cannot advertise any VET courses in its own name
    • students are enrolled as students of the RTO, not the third party
    • qualifications and/or statements of attainment are issued in the name of the RTO, not the third party
  • clauses detailing the obligations of the third party (that is, setting out which party will provide training and assessment materials, resources and facilities)
  • the mechanisms through which the RTO will systematically monitor the third party (for example, if the third party is providing the training and assessment materials, resources and facilities), set out:
    • how these will be reviewed prior to use across all delivery sites
    • how the RTO will ensure that trainers and/or assessors provided by the third party meet the requirements of the Standards for RTOs
  • record-keeping procedures for enrolment information and completed assessments
  • details of which party will validate completed student assessments
  • any obligations (of the RTO or third party) relating to government subsidies or other financial support
  • clauses requiring the third party to cooperate with ASQA and provide accurate responses to requests about delivery of services.

Notifying ASQA of a third party agreement

The Standards for RTOs require you to notify ASQA within 30 days of your RTO entering into, or cancelling, a written agreement with a third party.

Requesting approval for a third party agreement for VET courses of concern

Prior to entering into a third party arrangement for ‘VET courses of concern’ (listed in Schedule 1 of the General Direction—third party arrangements for training and/or assessment of VET courses), written agreement must be obtained from ASQA.

Third-party arrangements for VET in schools

Schools that are also RTOs

Where a school is also an NVR Act RTO, then the school is the principal that enters into a third-party agreement with an external RTO and that agreement specifies the services and facilities that the school will provide and the activities that the third party will be responsible for.

Where the school RTO does not have the qualification on scope, then the third-party RTO will be responsible for enrolment, the outcomes of the training and assessment, and the issuing of the qualification to the student. The third-party RTO must have the qualification on its scope of registration at all times.

The school RTO is not required to have the qualification on scope to enter into a third-party agreement with an external RTO that has the qualification on scope.

Schools that are not RTOs

Where the school is not an NVR Act RTO, then the school procures the service from the external RTO and the RTO as principal enters into a third-party agreement with the school to cover the provision by the school of facilities, staff etc. to the extent that is part of the arrangement. 

The RTO will be responsible for enrolment, training and assessment, and the issuing of the qualification to the student. The RTO must have the qualification on its scope of registration at all times.

We acknowledge that this in some cases differs from current practice where the school has acted as if the school was a separate entity from the school RTO which in some cases is not the case.

More information

For more information on managing third party arrangements, refer to:

Contact ASQA

Contact the ASQA Infoline on 1300 701 801 between Monday and Friday, 9.00 am to 7.00 pm AEST or email enquiries [at] asqa.gov.au