Please note: We have a number of TAFE and Government providers as our clients, and the reason for publishing this article is not to damage them or their reputation. All facts mentioned in this article are facts that have been established through reports. The main aim is to look into why the regulatory body is treating training organisations differently and inconsistently.
In training organisation world, there seems to be discrepancies in how a private training organisation and a government provider are audited and treated. There can be many reasons, but we have looked at the information available and thought we would share this with you.
Our research includes information about the importance of private training organisations to Australia, statistics and data from reliable sources such as NCVER, Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) and other government and research bodies.
Let's look into the statistics and find out what has happened in the sector, the positives and negatives and where we are heading.
Private training organisations in Australia
The number and type of providers delivering vocational education and training (VET) in Australia are almost as varied as the types of students they serve and the training they deliver.
Private training providers are a very diverse group, covering adult/community providers, enterprise-based providers, industry organisations, commercial training organisations and other private providers. Private training providers offer a wide range of accredited and non-accredited VET courses across the full range of the Australian Qualifications Framework. Many deliver in only one state/territory. As well as their course offerings, many private training providers also provide a wide range of student services. Training is largely delivered face to face.
Private registered training providers have an important role to play in offering diversity, equity and specialised training services across the sector. Private training providers make a substantial financial and economical contribution to the overall VET effort in Australia.
What the current statistics are saying about VET sector
In 2018, there was approximately 4.4 million enrolments in training and almost 2.9 million students (71.3%) were enrolled in nationally recognised training with a private training provider, 777,100 (19.1%) at a TAFE institute, 481,200 (11.8%) at a community education provider, 116,600 (2.9%) at an enterprise provider, 105,100 (2.6%) at a school and 69,200 (1.7%) at a university.
Note: The sum of students (n=4.4 million in 2018) will not add to the 2018 total (4.1 million) as a student may have enrolled in training with multiple provider types in a calendar year.
~ Australian vocational education and training statistics, Total VET students and courses 2018, NCVER
For nationally recognised total VET qualifications started in 2017 the data shows that by training provider type, programs delivered by enterprise providers, schools and private training providers have the highest national estimated projected qualification completion rates. Enterprise providers 60%, schools 55% and private training providers 51%
~ A clearer view of the total VET landscape is emerging, Media release, 28 August 2019, NCVER
According to Australia’s Digital Pulse 2019– ACS’ latest annual investigation into the state of Australia’s IT sector – 100,000 more tech workers are still needed by 2024.
How do we do that when there’s a massive decline of almost 12,000 technology subject enrolments between 2016 and 2017 in the vocational education and training sector?
~ Australia still needs another 100,000 tech workers by 2024. Sep 05 2019
Misinformation and inconsistencies
The number of private training organisations that have been closed down has increased. Decisions such as sanctions and cancellations, naming private RTOs through their website, cases referred to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, show that an increased numbers of private training organisations are being deemed as not following regulatory and legislative requirements and failing audits. This is happening more frequently than for TAFE and other public training organisations.
We reviewed ASQA’s own Annual Report 2017-2018 and found the following facts:
- In 2017-2018 ASQA finalised 118 reconsideration applications. ASQA overturned its own regulatory decisions 50% of the time. 139 applications made it to a tribunal or court with 59 closed and 115 applications carried into 2018-19. Please refer here https://www.asqa.gov.au/sites/g/files/net3521/f/asqa_annual_report_2017-18.pdf
- The private training organisations appealing ASQA decisions through courts and tribunals increased from 29 in 2015 to 139 in 2018. This was the result of ASQA removing the compliance and regulatory step of allowing the training providers to submit further rectification evidence.
- An increasing number of AAT reviews has had a negative impact on the availability of auditors. The federal budget funding increase will contribute to managing reviews of ASQA’s regulatory decisions, particularly those where applications are submitted to the AAT. Is removing a compulsory compliance improvement step and spending unnecessary time and money in Administrative Appeals Tribunal wasting taxpayers' money?
Same sector, same regulatory body, different rules
One of the most questions that the industry is currently asking is, why are there different rules? Should the expectation of quality training and assessment not be the same regardless of where a student enrols?
- Has any public training organisations been shut down or sanctioned after having been identified with critically non-compliant practices?
- How many public training organisations are named by ASQA on their website regulatory decisions list https://www.asqa.gov.au/decisions-notices/latest-regulatory-decisions?
- Who is reviewing the course completion rates of TAFE students and public training organisations? The latest report is stating that Victorian TAFEs have the worst completion rate in Australia (29.6%).
- What actions were taken when students and teachers at a major TAFE were affected as more than 400,000 marks were not entered into its student management system? https://www.smh.com.au/education/400-000-missing-marks-in-failed-tafe-computer-system-20180704-p4zpgb.html
- Why all the changes in decisions that occurred with another major TAFE from the regulatory body? Were they compliant or non-compliant? What lessons were learned from this TAFE incident?
- When Victoria’s largest regional TAFE was found misusing taxpayer funds what actions were taken? https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/a-serious-matter-tafe-freezes-enrolments-amid-concerns-of-rorting-20170919-gyk867.html
Our observation is that noTAFE or public education body has been cancelled since ASQA took power but over 660 private training providers have been.