Clause 4.1—Provide accurate and accessible information to prospective and current students
Information, whether disseminated directly by the RTO or on its behalf, is both accurate and factual, and:
What clause 4.1 means for your RTO
The Standards for Registered Training Organisations 2015 (the Standards) require your RTO to provide clear and accurate information to students before enrolment to allow students to make informed choices.
The Standards make it clear the RTO is solely responsible for all advertising, marketing and recruitment done on its behalf—regardless of the channel or method used.
You must ensure students are provided with clear and accurate information. This is your RTO’s responsibility regardless of:
- the medium used to advertise training (including your website and social media)
- how students are recruited
- who is actually providing the information (including education agents and brokers).
Your RTO is subject to all relevant consumer protection laws that apply in any jurisdiction where you operate.
Your RTO must honour all commitments it makes in all marketing materials. You must only promote training or assessment for training products that are currently on your scope of registration.
Advertising or marketing by third parties
- 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.
- If a non-RTO is recruiting students under a third-party agreement with your RTO, all marketing and advertising must use the name of your RTO (and not the name of the third party).
- A third party cannot advertise a VET course using its own name.
- 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.
- If an RTO is recruiting students under a third-party agreement with your RTO, all marketing and advertising must include details of the third party arrangements.
Including your RTO code
- You must include your RTO code in all marketing material where an inference is made that nationally recognised training is offered.
- All marketing and advertising material must include your RTO’s name.
Using the Nationally Recognised Training logo
- All nationally recognised training is listed on the national register of training providers and courses, at training.gov.au. The NRT logo is a recognised trademark that confirms training is nationally recognised. To maintain the credibility of the logo, it must be used only in accordance with the conditions of use in Schedule 4 of the Standards.
- If your RTO delivers training that is not nationally recognised (including school and higher education programs), you must clearly separate marketing or other information about this training from marketing and information about training that is nationally recognised.It must be clear where training is not nationally recognised.
- RTOs can obtain a copy of the NRT logo by sending an email from an RTO contact listed on the national register at training.gov.au to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Including the code and full title of the training product
- • Whether you offer qualifications, skill sets, accredited courses or individual units, all marketing material must include the code and the full title of the training product (as listed on the national register) to ensure there is no confusion about what is being offered and to allow potential students to verify the information. This also means that all RTOs are describing courses under the same title, reducing confusion in the marketplace.
When developing your marketing or advertising material, remember the likely audience, particularly for online marketing. Often, Australian states and territories have different regulatory arrangements and potential students must be able to clearly see where any licensing or accreditation outcomes may apply.
Your RTO’s marketing material must also be consistent with its training and assessment strategies, including any variations or additions for courses delivered to overseas students. For example, you must not claim a course takes two weeks to complete if students complete the course over a period of several months, including doing so by also undertaking a period of independent study.
Details about the amount of training should be clear and where necessary should provide information for all student cohorts.
If you use any reference to another person or organisation (such as testimonials or photos) in marketing or advertising material, you must gain consent from the person or organisation before you make that reference public. This applies to, for example, displaying photos of other training or educational institutions on your website, which can lead people to believe your RTO operates those facilities.
Where students may be accessing VET Student Loans (VSL) or any other government loan or subsidy, your RTO must provide details of the arrangements. You must provide details of:
- any costs associated with the loan or subsidy (including interest or similar costs)
- any debt that will be incurred.
You should also note that these funding programs may have additional marketing requirements with which you must comply. You should check the details of requirements with the relevant funding authority.
You must provide details of any loss of entitlement that may occur if a student undertakes a course at your RTO. This includes providing information about limited entitlement schemes (where students are only able to access one course or there are restrictions on what courses may be subsidised after a student completes their study at your RTO).
RTOs are not required to have marketing or advertising policies and procedures, but you should:
- ensure all marketing material is checked and approved by an appropriate person before publication
- monitor all marketing to ensure it remains current and accurate.
ASQA and other agencies receive many complaints about RTOs that make inaccurate or misleading statements in their marketing. Being vigilant about monitoring the accuracy of marketing about your RTO across all forms of media will increase student satisfaction and reduce the chance of students submitting complaints to regulators. You should be equally vigilant in monitoring any marketing carried out on your behalf by other parties, such as training directories or brokers.
Complaints ASQA receives about an RTO can lead to regulatory action.
Remember, your RTO is responsible for ensuring all marketing complies with the Standards, no matter who actually creates or publishes the material.
ASQA may review your RTO’s marketing when:
- preparing for an audit
- considering applications
- investigating complaints
- as part of regular data-gathering processes to inform an RTO’s risk profile.
ASQA’s reviews include conducting Internet searches to discover marketing about your RTO other than your RTO’s website, reviewing social media, and reviewing data and intelligence received about your RTO’s marketing processes.
A guide to compliance
Complaints about student information, enrolment and marketing are consistently among the top ten categories of complaints about RTOs that ASQA receives. This suggests that RTOs need to have rigorous processes in place to monitor and review their marketing and recruitment materials and practices.
Your RTO should retain copies of all actual advertising and marketing material, including any material created by third parties. Retaining copies and keeping a register of all approved material, while not mandatory, makes it easier for your RTO to monitor marketing and allows this evidence to be presented as part of an audit or in the investigation of a complaint.
If your RTO has any third-party arrangements, it is essential to maintain current and appropriate written agreements that clearly specify that the third party may not advertise or offer courses in its own name, unless the third party is an RTO with the relevant course on its own scope.
Regardless of how your evidence is presented, it must demonstrate that all of the requirements of clause 4.1 have been complied with in full.
How can my RTO demonstrate and provide evidence of compliant practice?
You could show that your RTO has a systematic practice of reviewing all your marketing, advertising and recruitment materials and keep a register of the actions you have taken to ensure these materials remain accurate and up to date. For example, you could show that:
- you review these materials whenever your training and assessment strategies are changed
- you have an identified staff member responsible for checking the accuracy and currency of information before it is published
- you collect information from clients/students about whether they received the services they understood they would receive and keep records of any actions you take in response to student feedback.
If you reference another person or organisation in your advertising or marketing material you must retain evidence that permission was obtained prior to any material containing the reference being published. Evidence could include:
- an exchange of email
- a signed release form
- a letter giving permission to use the relevant material
- other relevant evidence.
If you regularly include information about students in social media (including photos where a student can be recognised), evidence might include a release clause in the enrolment form giving your RTO permission to use photos in public if you use this method (ensure you can demonstrate that these students actually agreed to the release and that students can ‘opt out’ if they wish).
Remember that ASQA will be seeking evidence that your marketing and recruitment practices align with all your RTO’s marketing and recruitment materials—no matter who they are published by, or in what format. For example, ASQA may interview or survey your students about their experience of your marketing. ASQA may also discuss your marketing and recruitment with third parties.
Tips on advertising
Additional requirements for VET Student Loans–approved training providers
Training providers that have been approved to enrol students whose training is supported by loans under the Australian Government Department of Education and Training (DET) VET Student Loans (VSL) program must ensure that their marketing practices enable students to select a course based on the content, quality and price of training offered. The VET Student Loans Rules 2016 have specific requirements for any marketing that mentions the possible availability of a VET Student Loan.
The VET Student Loans program does not allow:
Any marketing or advertising material must clearly state that VET Student Loans must be repaid. For more information, please refer to the DET’s Information for VET Student Loans providers.
Advice for enterprise RTOs
Training programs delivered by enterprise RTOs for their employees or volunteers are generally determined by the requirements of their job (for example, after recruitment or promotion). In many cases employees are required to undertake these training programs as a condition of employment. It is rare for an enterprise RTO to advertise and market its training services to prospective clients or to charge any fees for the provision of those services.
Within the enterprise RTO training environment, the information given to students will reflect their primary status as employees of the enterprise, rather than prospective clients of a training provider.
While clause 4.1 may be of limited relevance to enterprise RTO students, it is important that the documentation provided by the enterprise is accurate, factual and current.
Your RTO should consider:
Guidance for applicants for initial registration
|You may not yet have all your marketing material fully developed. Provide any draft materials as evidence of what will be used and show that all requirements of clause 4.1 have been adhered to.|
Case study: Can an RTO use an “RPL broker” to recruit students?
As a third party, an RPL broker cannot offer to provide all or part of a VET course in their own name. Third parties that provide these types of services must accurately and honestly represent the principal RTO in all marketing and enrolment activities.
For example, “Fast Track RPL” runs a website that acts as a brokerage for ten RTOs delivering RPL in a wide variety of courses, including “Melbourne City Training”. Potential students enrol with “Fast Track RPL” as a third party to these RTOs. The General Direction—third-party arrangements for training and or assessment of VET courses clarifies that as a non-RTO, “Fast Track RPL” cannot offer to provide all or part of a VET course in their own name.
Fast Track RPL cannot advertise “Melbourne City Training’s” courses on a website holding the name and branding “Fast Track RPL”. Any advertising of VET courses on behalf of “Melbourne City Training” must be in the name of “Melbourne City Training” only. This does not prevent the use of “Fast Track RPL” in the domain name of a website, but the content of the site must only reflect the name of “Melbourne City Training”.