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FAQs

Can I deliver a qualification in a shorter timeframe than listed in the AQF volume of learning? (Clauses 1.1 – 1.2)

Each learner must gain and be assessed against all the knowledge and skills described in the training package or accredited course. Depending on the circumstances and the characteristics of your learners, it may be possible to achieve this in a shorter period than that described in the AQF.

Your RTO may structure a course to be completed in a in a shorter time period than that described in the AQF. In this case, you will need to clearly describe, using a rationale based on the previous skills and knowledge and the needs of learners, how a specific learner cohort:

  • has the characteristics to achieve the required rigour and depth of training, and
  • can meet all of the competency requirements in a shorter timeframe.

Your description must take into account the need to allow learners to reflect on and absorb the knowledge, to practise the skills in different contexts and to learn to apply the skills and knowledge in the varied environments that the ‘real world’ offers before being assessed.

For more information, refer to Clauses 1.1 - 1.4 of the Users' Guide.

Do I need a separate training and assessment strategy for each learner cohort or can I develop one that covers multiple learner cohorts?

RTOs must develop and implement strategies for training and assessment for each training product they are registered for. If the needs of different learner cohorts require different approaches to the delivery of training and/or assessment, your RTO may need to develop multiple training and assessment strategies.

How do I measure the amount of training or length of time for online courses? (Clauses 1.1 – 1.2)

The Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) provides a guide to the volume of learning, which describes how long a learner who does not hold any of the competencies identified in the relevant units of competency would take to develop all the required skills and knowledge.

The amount of training provided by your RTO is part of the overall volume of learning. The amount of training relates primarily to formal activities including online or self-paced study.

The amount of training required for an online delivery mode comprises the formal, guided learning as well as any workplace learning. To ensure learners are able to obtain and absorb the required knowledge and skills prior to assessment, carefully choose and plan the resources you will use to guide them.

When designing a course for online delivery:

  1. Analyse the nature of your learner cohort.
  2. Consider any specific requirements of the training product (the qualification and each unit of competency).
  3. Use the analysis to determine how you will schedule training and assessment activities to ensure learners are able to fully develop the required skills and knowledge prior to being assessed. 

How does "amount of training" compare to the AQF "volume of learning"? (Clauses 1.1 – 1.2)

The AQF provides the volume of learning allocated to a qualification. This includes all teaching, learning and assessment activities that are required to be undertaken by the typical student to achieve the learning outcomes. These activities may include guided learning (classes, lectures, tutorials, online or self-paced study), individual study, research, learning activities in the workplace, and assessment activities.

The amount of training provided by an RTO is part of the overall volume of learning and relates primarily to formal activities (including classes and other activities, as well as workplace learning). Your RTO is required to comply with the AQF in applying the volume of learning to training programs and must therefore develop and implement strategies for training and assessment that are consistent with the AQF.

For more information, refer to Clauses 1.1 - 1.4 of the Users' Guide.

There is currently a major problem with RTOs offering very short courses, which results in insufficient training. How do the new Standards address this issue? How is ASQA going to address "long weekend diplomas"? (Clauses 1.1 – 1.2)

The new Standards include stronger requirements for RTOs in relation to how they advertise and deliver courses to ensure learners actually have the skills and knowledge their certification describes.

In particular:

  • There is now a direct relationship between the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) volume of learning and an RTO's training and assessment strategies and practices (meaning that where providers are choosing to deliver courses shorter than the recommended AQF volume of learning period, they must be able to clearly describe, using a rationale based on the previous skills and knowledge and the needs of learners, how a specific learner cohort has the characteristics to achieve the required rigour and depth of training and can meet all of the competency requirements in this shorter timeframe).
  • Standards relating to marketing and advertising have been enhanced.
  • Increased measures to ensure the protection of consumers using VET recruiters have been introduced.

ASQA will address the issue of very short courses that do not deliver sufficient training through:

  • enforcing the increased provisions of the revised Standards
  • providing additional information and advice to help providers understand the requirements of the standards in relation to volume of learning, and
  • reviewing providers’ marketing and advertising materials as part of the risk assessment process in order to identify providers promoting excessively short courses.

What comprises ‘amount of training’? E.g. can amount of training include face-to-face, online learning, time spent on assessment and so on?

The amount of training provided by your RTO relates primarily to formal teaching and learning activities such as face-to-face classes, online lectures or tutorials and workplace learning. It does not include research or assessment activities.

The amount of training provided by an RTO is part of the overall ‘volume of learning’ as defined in the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF). You must consider the volume of learning when determining the amount of training your RTO will provide. You must be able to provide a rationale for any significant variation.

What does ‘requirements of the training packages’ mean? (Clauses 1.1 – 1.2)

The ‘requirements of the training package’ are dependent on your strategy for delivery.

If your RTO is delivering a full qualification, ’requirements of the training package’ would include:

  • the qualification requirements
  • any unit of competency requirements, and
  • any other requirements specified in the endorsed components of the training package (in “old” training packages have Assessment Guidelines)
    • Training package means the components of a training package endorsed by the Industry and Skills Council or its delegate in accordance with the Standards for Training Packages. The endorsed components of a training package are: units of competency; assessment requirements (associated with each unit of competency); qualifications; and credit arrangements. The endorsed components form part of the requirements that an RTO must meet under these Standards.

      A training package also consists of a non-endorsed, quality assured companion volume/s which contains industry advice to RTOs on different aspects of implementation.

Clause 1.1 should also be read in conjunction with Clauses 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, 1.5 and 1.6.

For more information, refer to Clauses 1.1 - 1.4 and Clauses 1.5 - 1.6 of the Users' Guide.

As part of the Rules of Evidence, under Currency, the Standards refer to ‘the very recent past’. What does this mean? (Clause 1.8)

The Standards require that evidence demonstrating current competency is from the present or the ‘very recent past’. The Standards do not specify the time that would be considered ‘very recent past’, as this may vary between industries.

However, trainers and assessors who have currently relevant skills and knowledge should be able to determine what constitutes ‘very recent past’ for their particular industry area. Your RTO must determine whether the evidence is recent enough to show the learner is competent at the time the assessor makes an assessment decision. For example, a computer programmer who has 10 years’ experience but has not been directly involved in hands-on programming work for the past three years may not have current skills in, or knowledge of, contemporary programming methods. However, the programmer may be able to update their skills and knowledge though a ‘gap training’ program.

This does not mean older evidence cannot be included in the evidence used to make an assessment judgement. However, older evidence must be supported by evidence that the person has the required skills and knowledge at the time of the assessment.

Can ASQA provide examples of best practice for checking the authenticity of online assessments?

Some examples of best practice for checking authenticity of online assessments might include: calling the learner and asking questions relating to assessment submitted or using the student’s webcam to take photos of the student at random intervals during the online assessment process.

Can my RTO use third-party evidence to assess competence? Is a written agreement required to use third-party evidence? (Clause 1.8)

Using third-party evidence is different to using a third-party provider to provide services on behalf of your RTO.

To inform a judgement about whether a learner has achieved competency, evidence is often collected by the assessor. However, other people (such as workplace supervisors) can also report what they see or hear to the assessor. Evidence collected in this manner is called third-party evidence (it is also sometimes called ‘supplementary evidence’).

A person collecting third-party evidence is not conducting any assessment. It remains the role of your RTO's assessor to make the judgement about whether competency has been achieved.

Your RTO does not require a written agreement to collect third-party evidence.

ASQA has developed a Fact Sheet about using third party evidence to assess competence. This tool provides valuable guidance as to how to develop an assessment system that will lead to the collection of quality evidence.

However, a third-party provider is any party who provides services under your RTO's registration, including undertaking assessment of training products.

Your RTO does require a written agreement to use a third-party provider.

Can you provide some examples of how my RTO can authenticate online assessment? (Clause 1.8)

Showing authenticity in assessment means ensuring the evidence presented for assessment is the learner's own work.

ASQA does not prescribe the methods RTOs should use to ensure an assessment is authentic.

However, your RTO must consider how it will:

  • ensure that the evidence gathered "belongs" to the learner being assessed and that it provides evidence of that person's skills and knowledge, and
  • verify that the person you are enrolling, training and assessing is the same person that will be issued with a qualification or statement of attainment.

You may choose to utilise a mix of security measures to ensure authenticity.

One example might be:

  • confirming a student's identity by using an accredited third party to confirm the student is the person who registered for and completed the assessment, and
  • storing this confirmation with the assessment results.

There are many other security measures which RTOs can use.

If a student is enrolling in a diploma qualification and the entry requirement is a certificate IV qualification, can my RTO provide training and assessment in the entry requirement qualification to that student?

Your RTO can deliver the certificate IV in this case if:

  • the certificate IV is on your RTO's scope of registration
  • the student completes the certificate IV before starting the diploma qualification (as specified in the Department of Education and Training’s Training Package Products Policy).

What does a ‘training product’ mean?

The glossary in the Standards for Registered Training Organisations 2015 defines the term ‘training product’ as including an ‘Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) qualification, skill set, unit of competency, accredited short course [or] module’.

What is the difference between an assessment tool and an assessment instrument? (Clause 1.8)

Assessment tools include the following components:

  • the context and conditions of assessment
  • the tasks to be administered to the student
  • an outline of the evidence to be gathered from the candidate
  • the evidence criteria used to judge the quality of performance (i.e. the assessment decision-making rules).

This term also takes in the administration, recording and reporting requirements of the assessment. An assessment tool may address a cluster of competencies as applicable for holistic assessment.

The tasks to be administered to the student, the outline of the evidence to be gathered from the student and the evidence criteria used to judge the quality of performance are sometimes referred to as the assessment instrument.

In providing assessment, your RTO must implement an assessment system. An assessment system:

  • is a coordinated set of documented policies and procedures (including assessment tools and other materials needed to perform the task), and
  • ensures assessments are consistent and are based on the Principles of Assessment and the Rules of Evidence.

Who is responsible for a student's work-based training in apprenticeships? Is it my RTO or is it the employer?

The RTO and employer are both responsible for ensuring students have access to applicable job tasks, resources and supervision while undertaking on-the-job training as well as off-the-job training.

Ultimately, the off-the-job training component of an apprenticeship is negotiated as part of the training contract between employer and apprentice/trainee and is registered and regulated by the appropriate training authority in your state or territory.

Are there any particular training products that need to be validated more frequently?

ASQA has identified systemic risks with training in the following areas: equine, security, early childhood education and care, aged and community care, construction industry (‘white card’ training) and training and education (TAE). For the purpose of Clause 1.10, training products in these areas may need to be validated more frequently.

Can I validate my training products more often than every five years? (Clauses 1.9 – 1.11)

The validation requirements in the Standards are the minimum requirements your RTO must meet.

However, you may choose to validate your training products more frequently, particularly if you are operating in a dynamic industry environment, where emerging risk factors have been identified or where new assessment tools have been developed.

How many units per qualification should be validated?

At least two units from each qualification must be validated; however, your RTO may choose to validate more if validation of the two units identifies risks or a potential harm to learners who may not have met the required assessment outcomes, inconsistent assessment judgements have been made by assessors or assessment has not been conducted in accordance with the Principles of Assessment or the Rules of Evidence.

I am the only trainer/assessor in our small RTO. How do I meet the requirement of clause 1.11, which states ‘validation must be undertaken by one or more persons who are not directly involved in the particular instance of delivery and assessment.’

The validation process involves:

  • checking a statistically valid sample of completed student assessment tools has produced valid, reliable, sufficient, current and authentic evidence, and if required, making recommendations for future improvements to the assessment tool, process or outcome and acting upon those recommendations.

The trainer and assessor who delivered/assessed the training product being validated:

  • can participate in the validation process as part of a team
  • cannot conduct the validation on his/her own
  • cannot determine the validation outcome for any assessment judgements they made, and
  • cannot be the lead validator in the assessment team.

If a sole trainer and assessor is involved in training and/or assessing a learner whose completed assessment is used in the validation sample, it would be considered, that trainer and assessor would have been ‘directly involved in the particular instance of delivery and assessment’.

In this case, the trainer and assessor can still participate in the validation process; however, cannot decide the validation outcomes of their own assessment decisions. A trainer and assessor can work as part of a validation team. For more information, please refer to the ASQA Fact sheet—Conducting validation.

I work for a small RTO and am also the only trainer and assessor in my specific industry area. How can our RTO validate assessments? (Clauses 1.9 – 1.11)

You may undertake validation through a ‘team’ approach, where collectively, team members hold the required qualifications, skills and knowledge. Trainers and assessors who are involved in the training and assessment delivery being considered as part of the validation process may also participate in validation activities, as long as they are not directly involved in deciding the validation outcome for their assessment decisions.

In selecting a validation team, choose a lead validator who is independent of delivery and assessment of the training product being validated and the assessment judgements being considered, to maintain professional distance and integrity.

Combined, the people involved in validation must have:

  • appropriate vocational competencies
  • current industry skills and knowledge
  • an appropriate training and assessment qualification or assessor skill set, and
  • current knowledge and skills in vocational teaching and learning.

What does ‘not directly involved in the particular instance of delivery and assessment’ mean? (Clauses 1.9 - 1.11)

The validation process involves:

  • checking a statistically valid sample of completed student assessment tool/s produced valid, reliable, sufficient, current and authentic evidence, and
  • if required, making recommendations for future improvements to the assessment tool, process or outcome and acting upon those recommendations.

If a learner’s completed assessment tool is used in the validation sample, any trainer or assessor involved in training and/or assessing that learner is considered to be is ‘directly involved’. These trainers and assessors can participate in the validation process; however, they cannot decide the validation outcomes of their own assessment decisions.

What is the difference between validation and moderation? (Clauses 1.9 - 1.11)

A valid assessment judgement is one that confirms a learner holds all of the knowledge and skills described in the training package or accredited course.

Validation is a process to confirm that your RTO’s assessment system is able to consistently produce valid assessment judgements.

Validation is the quality review of the assessment process and is generally conducted after assessment is complete.

Validation involves checking that your assessment tools have produced valid, reliable, sufficient, current and authentic evidence, enabling your RTO to make reasonable judgements to about whether training package (or VET accredited course) requirements have been met.

Validation includes reviewing a statistically valid sample of the assessments and making recommendations for future improvements to the assessment tool, process and/or outcomes and acting upon such recommendations.

A statistically valid sample is one that is taken randomly from the set of assessment judgements being considered and that is sufficiently large that the outcomes of validation of the sample can be applied to the entire set of judgements. There are a number of online tools you can use to generate the size of your sample, one of which is located at www.raosoft.com/samplesize.html. You can find others by searching the Internet for ’statistically valid sample size’.

Moderation is a quality control process aimed at bringing assessment judgements into alignment. Moderation is generally conducted before the finalisation of student results as it ensures the same decisions are applied to all assessment results within the same unit of competency.

The requirement in the Standards to undertake validation of assessment judgements does not prohibit your RTO from undertaking moderation activities, or any other process aimed at increasing the quality of assessment.

Who can be an independent validator?

An independent validator is someone who is:

  • not employed or subcontracted by the RTO to provide training and assessment, and
  • has no other involvement or interest in the operations of the RTO.

Can terminology other than ‘complaint’ be used on a website? (Clause 6.1)

No. The Standards require you to have complaints and appeals policies, and to make these publicly available and easily accessible. The policies must also clearly state how to lodge a complaint and how it will be handled.

Do complainants need to submit complaints to the RTO before contacting ASQA?

Yes, in most cases learners must exhaust the RTO's complaints and appeals process first, and provide evidence to ASQA that they have completed this process before submitting a complaint to ASQA. In exceptional circumstances ASQA may consider a student’s complaint without this evidence.

Does my RTO need to publish all complaints it receives? (Clause 6.1)

Your RTO does not need to publish all the complaints it receives; only the Complaints and Appeals policy or policies must be publicly available.

However, Standard 6, clause 6.5 requires that you maintain secure records of all complaints and appeals and their outcomes.

How does ASQA deal with student/learner complaints?

If the learner has completed the RTO’s complaints and appeals process, ASQA will notify both the RTO and the complainant of the complaint. ASQA considers each complaint it receives about an RTO and adopts a risk-based approach to the way it manages and responds to complaints.

In some cases, ASQA may:

  • conduct an investigation
  • use the use the information provided in the complaint to inform future regulatory activity, and/or
  • contact the provider to request a specific action.

If ASQA substantiates the complaint, we may take further action. For more information about what regulatory actions ASQA may take, refer to information on ASQA’s regulatory decisionsinfringement notices and enforcement procedures.

How do I submit an annual declaration on compliance? (Clause 8.4)

What is the annual declaration on compliance? (Clause 8.4)

The annual declaration on compliance is a statement by your organisation confirming that it is compliant with all requirements of the Standards.

Providing an annual declaration:

  • confirms that you have systematically monitored your RTO’s compliance with the Standards, and
  • informs ASQA of whether any issues identified have been corrected.

Can my RTO add a unit of competency from the TAE10 Training Package to its scope of registration? (Clauses 1.21 - 1.24)

Any RTO can apply to add any unit of competency to its explicit scope of registration, except for:

  • TAEASS401B Plan assessment activities and processes
  • TAEASS402B Assess competence, or
  • TAEASS403B Participate in assessment validation.

The above units of competency are part of the assessor skill set. You may only apply to add these units of competency to your scope of registration if your RTO has held registration for at least two years continuously.

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