Using this guide

Who should use this guide?

This is Version 2.2 of the Users’ guide to the Standards for RTOs 2015. It is intended for use by people who own or work for RTOs or organisations applying to become RTOs.

This version of the guide supports ASQA’s student-centred performance assessment (audit) approach and is structured to follow a student’s experience through the five key phases of the student journey.

This guide aligns each of these five key phases with the relevant clauses from the Standards.

  • Organisations applying to become RTOs can use this guide to:
    • understand the obligations of an RTO
    • develop systems and processes in preparation for submitting an application for initial registration
    • understand the importance of ensuring from the outset that their practices—as well as their systems and processes—are compliant with the Standards.
  • RTOs can use this guide to:
    • understand their regulatory obligations
    • establish and maintain practices, systems and processes that both comply with the Standards and meet the needs of their clients and students
    • conduct self-assessment against the Standards
    • test their practices, systems and processes to provide evidence of quality student experiences and outcomes
    • continuously improve their practices and systems.

While the Standards apply to all RTOs, this guide contains some information that is specific to those RTOs regulated by ASQA. RTOs not regulated by ASQA should contact their regulator for specific information regarding VET legislation, regulatory requirements and regulatory processes that apply to them.

Assessors and other regulatory staff also use this guide (in conjunction with ASQA’s Code of conduct for auditors and course accreditation assessors) to help them make consistent judgements about the intent of the Standards and how RTOs can implement the Standards in ways that meet the needs of their clients and students.

Purpose of this guide

This guide provides an explanation of the Standards and guidance on meeting the Standards. RTO staff and management should use the guide to obtain a clearer understanding of the Standards and the obligations of an RTO. They can use that knowledge to structure operations and gather and retain evidence of compliant practices, systems and processes. The Standards describe what outcomes an RTO must achieve, not how they must be achieved.

This guide is not part of the Standards and has no legal authority. The guide does not prescribe how an RTO should be managed or what evidence must be retained to demonstrate compliance. RTOs are best placed to decide the most suitable way for their organisation to be structured and managed. As long as an RTO can present evidence that it complies with the Standards, there is no ‘right way’ for an RTO to conduct its operations.

The guide should not be considered as any form of checklist or to contain any prescriptive information.

Notes on this version

This is Version 2.2 of this guide. This version:

  • is arranged according to the phases of the student journey
  • emphasises the importance of RTO practices to creating high-quality experiences and learning outcomes for students 
  • includes additional case studies and guidance
  • reflects changes relating to trainer and assessor requirements that came into effect from 1 July 2019
  • includes information on additional requirements for RTOs seeking to deliver Training and Education (TAE) Training Package products
  • includes updated guidance on third party arrangements.

Notes on terminology/glossary

The Standards also include a glossary. Where a word is defined in the glossary, it has that defined meaning with regard to the Standards.

Within the VET system, people being trained and/or assessed by the RTOs are referred to as both ‘students’ and ‘learners’. Internally, ASQA uses the term ‘students’ while the Standards uses the term ‘learners’. For the purpose of this guide, these terms should be considered to be interchangeable.

Structure of this guide

The guide follows the five phases of the student’s journey, grouping the relevant Standards (and clauses) against each stage. In this guide, ASQA has emphasised the importance of RTO practice to the quality of the student experience. The final chapter of the guide references a number of Standards against a sixth area relating to regulatory compliance and governance practice.

Appendix 1 of this guide contains a complete index of the clauses that make up the Standards, and where each clause appears in the guide, for users who want to refer to the Standards as they are listed in the legislation.

* These Standards are also considered when ASQA looks at an RTO’s compliance and governance.

For each clause or group of related clauses the guide includes a range of information:

  • What this clause or clauses mean for your RTO—a plain English description of what each clause means for your provider.
  • A guide to compliance—an outline of how an RTO might meet these clauses.

For relevant groups of clauses, the guide includes:

  • How can my RTO demonstrate, and show evidence of, compliant practice?—provides examples of types of evidence that might show what is actually happening for students.
  • Tips for compliance—drawn from ASQA’s regulatory experience.
  • Guidance for applicants for initial registration—highlights what an organisation applying for registration might need to demonstrate in relation to the Standards/clauses for each phase of the student journey.
  • Case studies—which illustrate what compliant practices, systems and processes might look like.
  • Information specific to enterprise RTOs.
  • Information specific to RTOs approved to offer VET Student Loans.
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