ASQA Provider Roundtable Communiqué (March 2021)

Date published

The ASQA Provider Roundtable held its first meeting for 2021 on 9 March.

ASQA update

The Provider Roundtable discussed the following updates:

Reform of organisational governance and structure

Since the Roundtable last met in November 2020, ASQA has continued to enhance its governance arrangements and organisational structure to deliver on the Ministerial Statement of Expectations. This includes developing four-year strategic deliverables in support of ASQA’s strategic objective, the publication of a Risk Management Policy Statement, and the establishment of internal governance committees to provide strategic oversight of ASQA’s work program.

Changes coming into effect on 6 April 2021

On 6 April 2021, ASQA will be undergoing a significant restructuring of its operational teams – with the Regulatory Operations teams splitting into separate Quality Assessment and Compliance teams. The ASQA audit function will become a performance assessment function that will employ a more extensive range of regulatory strategies to assess performance. A separate compliance function will be established to determine the appropriate response to any areas of non-compliance.

Australian National Audit Office (ANOA) performance audit

The ANAO commenced a performance audit of ASQA in January 2021. ASQA welcomes this independent assessment, and is working closely with the ANAO to support the performance assessment (audit). The final report of the performance assessment is scheduled to be tabled in the winter sittings of Parliament.

ASQA’s regulatory reforms

Members were briefed on the key components of ASQA’s revised regulatory approach commencing on 6 April 2021. Reforms include changes to the assessment methodology, the introduction of new measures in responding to non-compliance (agreements to rectify), and the provision of earlier opportunities to resolve disputes through the internal review of decisions. To support and communicate the change to its operations, ASQA has developed an integrated suite of documents that detail its regulatory approach, namely:

  • Regulatory Risk Framework
  • Regulatory Operating Model
  • Approach to assessing performance
  • Compliance Policy
  • Internal Review Policy

The Roundtable discussed ASQA’s revised regulatory approach and members were invited to provide further feedback to ASQA.

ASQA also briefed the Roundtable on its commitment to undertake a post-implementation evaluation of the regulatory reforms. Members welcomed the opportunity for further involvement in the development of the evaluation framework. ASQA also advised that it welcomes real-time feedback from members as the reforms are implemented over the coming months.

Education and Guidance program

Feedback provided by Roundtable members in late 2020 and early 2021 has been used to assist in the development of ASQA’s Education and Guidance program of work for 2021. The program focuses on supporting sector-wide compliance and quality by continuing work focused on building an understanding of provider self-assurance, continuous improvement and excellence through more comprehensive learning opportunities.

Members discussed the planned Education and Guidance program of work for 2021, which will include two streams of external guidance information relating to essential compliance and quality information to support providers. The proposed development over a forward program of an online platform that will further enhance provider access to these products was also discussed, and members noted that further consultation would be undertaken on this project.

Strategic Projects

Members were updated on the progress ASQA is making on two pieces of work arising from its Regulatory Strategy 2020–2022.

ASQA’s VET delivered to secondary school students (VETDSSS) scoping study is nearing completion, with the findings due to be confirmed by the end of March 2021.

ASQA’s strategic review of online learning in the VET sector was launched in December 2020, and has included a webinar discussion led by a panel comprising ASQA and industry representatives, which focused on building e-learning capability and the new TAE digital skill set. A follow-up webinar discussion was also held to further explore questions and issues raised as part of the first webinar discussion.

A survey (which closes on 19 March 2021) has been sent to all regulated providers to gain their insights into the sector’s use, experience and perceptions of online learning, and ASQA encourages providers to engage with the survey and contribute their insights to the strategic review, which is scheduled for completion in August 2021.

ASQA Stakeholder Engagement Strategy – Provider Roundtable Terms of Reference

ASQA is developing a comprehensive Stakeholder Engagement Strategy to organise and articulate its priorities for engaging stakeholders over the next four years. The strategy will give effect to ASQA’s strategic deliverable: As the national regulator, we engage and partner with stakeholders constructively and with mutual respect. Further consultation will occur with Roundtable members to develop the strategy.

The Roundtable, which was established in 2012, is recognised as ASQA’s primary consultative forum with the VET and English language sectors through the peak provider associations. Members discussed the results of a recent survey undertaken to review the Roundtable and develop formal Terms of Reference.

ASQA thanked members for their feedback in developing the proposed Terms of Reference, which will formally articulate the Provider Roundtable’s purpose, background, objectives, membership and meeting administration.

Members endorsed the proposed Terms of Reference, and agreed to their publication on the ASQA website.

Members also agreed to the publication of a Communiqué in the week following each meeting, as a high-level record of the agenda items discussed and actions arising.

Member updates

Members provided operational and strategic updates, including:

  • co-ordination of reform activities across Australian Government agencies and state and territory governments
  • engagement with the work of the National Skills Commission on skills forecasting and benchmarking of provider performance
  • consideration of the implications for the VET sector of the recommendations of the report of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety
  • the Inquiry by the Standing Committee on Employment, Education and Training into adult literacy, numeracy and problem-solving skills in Australia
  • the impact of the declining numbers of overseas students on providers of English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students as a result of the ongoing closure of Australia’s international borders.

Next meeting

The next meeting of the Provider Roundtable will be held on 6 July 2021.

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