Australian Skills Quality Authority’s (ASQA) Strategic Direction To Ensure Quality in VET
The Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) recently published its Corporate Plan 2021-22 outlining their objectives for the next four years.
ASQA CEO Saxon Rice explained that the plan focuses on best-practice regulation of the Australian VET sector, saying:
“Best-practice regulation by ASQA has an important part to play in supporting the VET sector’s contribution to economic recovery and Australia’s future growth and prosperity.”
This plan is further evidence of the continuing shift in ASQA’s regulatory stance, moving away from input and compliance controls and focusing on self-assurance and quality outcomes while supporting continuous improvement in training provision across the VET sector.
Supporting training providers upfront rather than just punishing them for non-compliance is a key priority for the regulator. As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
The Corporate Plan 2021-22 is a comprehensive document that is over 50 pages long. Here, we take a look at one section, outlining ASQA’s strategic direction to ensure quality Vocational Education and Training and what this means for the sector as a whole.
This section has been broken into 6 parts, each explaining the Strategic Deliverables and Key Performance Indicators of their regulatory approach.
1. Promoting a culture of self-assurance and continuous improvement
This is perhaps at the core of ASQA’s motivation. Providing training providers with the tools and resources required for enhanced quality.
ASQA delivers this through the regulatory system and comprehensive use of their self-assurance resources to improve the quality of training delivered to students. ASQA staff have also been trained to effectively deliver this enhanced regulatory approach and their quality assurance processes are being used with a key focus on consistent implementation.
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2. The Regulatory approach is best practice, integrated, risk-based and proportionate
Essentially, is ASQA doing what it’s set out to do?
Their risk-based regulatory insights support training providers and enable them to improve their performance, and this regulation is proportionate. This means that ASQA can deliver standards-based auditing determined by risk, and apply appropriate and proportionate regulatory decisions.
Interestingly, when the regulatory risk framework is applied, the majority of VET providers don’t trigger the need for a compliance audit. Furthermore, in 2020 only 5% of providers were found to have critical or serious non-compliance issues.
ASQA is an active member of the regulatory community of practice, meaning that through regulation and partnerships with stakeholders, they can ensure quality VET so that students, industry employers, the greater community and the government can be confident in the quality and standard of national qualifications issued by registered training providers.
3. The Regulatory Approach is transparent and accountable
ASQA maintains transparency in the performance of their regulatory functions, including maintaining compliance under the Standards.
Training providers, key stakeholders and anyone in Australia can access a wide range of information about ASQA’s regulatory activity and performance. They also provide comprehensive reports on provider performance.
4. Engagement with partners and stakeholders in a constructive, respectful manner
It is through ASQA’s partnerships and engagements that they are able to fully understand their role as the national regulator and improve their regulatory impact. This is achieved through feedback loops with key stakeholders that allow them to understand broader VET reforms and improve regulatory policy and outcomes.
Through these partnerships, ASQA and key stakeholders have been able to achieve a common understanding of their regulatory role and approach, and what their shared responsibilities are.
A good example of this is the ASQA Stakeholder Liaison Group (SLG). Formed in November 2020, they held their first meeting in March 2021. The SLG members are among the stakeholders whom ASQA consulted when developing their regulatory approach.
5. ASQA is efficient, effective and continuously improves
It’s important to remember that ASQA is a governing body, they don’t actually create any legislation. One important job is to implement the Australian Government’s decision regarding cost recovery.
They also strive to create the organisational and cultural change necessary for a best practice regulator.
6. ASQA publishes information about the performance of the sector to support transparency and accountability
There are several ways the Australian community can access information about ASQA’s regulatory decisions and insights into sector performance and quality VET.
Not only does this transparency speak to ASQA’s credibility but it provides useful information to students and potential students who are looking to make an informed decision when choosing what to study and looking for a training provider. It also provides industry, government and the community with specific, up-to-date information on ASQA’s regulatory activity.
It’s great to see that ASQA is driving reform in the sector and have supported training providers during one of their hardest times in the last year. We’re keen to see how this plan develops.