I hope this newsletter finds you well. Well it’s been a big year (as always!) in the VET sector. We have seen some significant changes including the following:
- The introduction of the Unique Student Identifier (USI) from 1 January 2015
- The first compulsory Total VET Activity report submitted in February 2015
- The introduction of the new Standards for Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) 2015 in April 2015
- Introduction of the VET FEE-HELP Guidelines from 1 July 2015
- Commencing the process of replacing Industry Skills Councils with Skills Service Organisations in August 2015
Of course there were many other less significant reforms throughout the year. Overall it has been a relatively turbulent year for change. Of significance has been the impact of the problems in the VET Fee Help market. You will know that I have been a vocal critic of those profiteering in this area of our sector at the expense of students. I am pleased with the steps taken by the Government and Regulatory Authorities to clean up this market. I am hopeful that those RTOs who have been investigated and found to have acted unlawfully or unethically are brought to account. I am also hopeful that, in this process of reform that those responsible for administering the VET Fee Help program are also looking at their own processes.
Is someone asking the question, how a brand new RTO can get access to the VET Fee Help contract and within two years of their initial registration collect over 100 million dollars in HELP fees whilst achieving very poor completions? I mean,, why was there not checkpoints or mechanisms to flag these providers at say the 5 or 10 million dollar mark? Clearly there were problems with the contract management arrangements in the Department. I acknowledge that the VET Fee Help Amendment Bill will prevent some of these things happening in the future. But seriously!! What was happening in the Department over the period 2012-2014 when everything got out of control? It is fine for the media to blame private providers, but what about the responsible Department and the individuals in the Department that had personal responsibility for overseeing these contracts? This article published in the Herald yesterday Click Here includes a great graphic that also explains how these scams work and how the money is distributed throughout the student recruitment chain.
I sincerely hope that we are now on the down cycle of cleaning up this sector. It has been a very damaging period for the reputation of the VET sector generally. This is frustrating as we have some fantastic providers who are delivering very high quality education and training to their students. We must work harder at getting the good stories out there as the regulator cleans out the bad providers. I hope that 2016 is a year when the reputation and integrity of our sector will start to repair. We can have such a positive impact on the lives of our students and on the industries we support.
Newbery Consulting is now closing for a well-earned break. Some staff will return on the 4th Jan 2016 as we have an update going out for RTO Data. In closing, I would like to just publically thank our wonderful team of staff and contractors. It has been another great year for us. I am so inspired by their commitment and hard work to support our clients.
I hope you all have a safe and restful time over the Christmas and New Year period.
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Compliance & Regulatory News
First annual declaration of compliance due in March 2016. Clause 8.4 of the Standards for Registered Training Organisations 2015 require each RTO to provide ASQA with an annual declaration on compliance with the Standards. An RTO must confirm to ASQA that it:
- systematically monitors the RTO’s compliance, and
- implements preventive and corrective improvements where considered necessary.
The first submission of the annual declaration is required by 31 March 2016.
Aged and community care webinar recording. During November, ASQA and the Community Services and Health Industry Skills Council (CS&HISC) hosted a series of free webinars for RTOs offering qualifications in aged and community care.
The interactive webcasts provided an update on what has been achieved since the release of ASQA’s strategic review, including the implementation of the Standards for Registered Training Organisations 2015 and revisions to the training package.
A video of the webinar can be viewed on ASQA’s YouTube channel;
Strategic review of equine training. ASQA has released the findings of its national Strategic Review of training in equine training programs, which was prompted by the tragic death of a young student in a horse riding accident whilst undertaking training.
Eleven recommendations have been made to address the concerns that ASQA identified during the review.
Update on targeted audits of VET FEE-HELP providers. ASQA has released additional details following the report of its findings on 20 October 2015.
This includes information on five RTOs were still subject to ongoing regulatory scrutiny by ASQA at the time of the report’s release.
Statement regarding Phoenix Institute of Australia Pty Ltd. On 23 November 2015 ASQA cancelled the registration of Phoenix Institute of Australia Pty Ltd (RTO 21582) as a provider of vocational education and training (VET) services, including to overseas students.
ASQA’s decision will take effect from 6 January 2016. The provider is able to seek a review of ASQA’s decision by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.
New CHC33015 Certificate III in Individual Support. On 6 August 2015 CHC33015 Certificate III in Individual Support superseded the Certificate III qualifications in Aged Care, Home and Community Care and Disability. The new qualification now has these three areas of care as specialisations.
ASQA advises that the new qualification and its three specialisations are not equivalent to any of the superseded qualifications. RTOs will therefore have to apply to ASQA to add this qualification to scope if they wish to deliver it.
Amendment Bill for VET FEE-HELP (VFH) reform. The Higher Education Support Amendment (VET FEE-HELP Reform) Bill 2015 was finally passed by both Houses of Parliament on 3 December 2015, with an effective date of 1 January 2015.
On 8 December 2015 the Department of Education and Training issued VFH providers with an update (not publicly available) that provided no indication of any transitional period for the implement of the changes. Needless to say it has been a busy month for VFH providers. As at the date of writing no formal amendment to the VET Guidelines 2015 has yet been published.
The amendment will include:
- A range of student protection requirements
- A freeze on loan growth at 2015 levels
- Changes to approval criteria for new providers
- Changes to financial viability requirements for providers
- Changes to payment arrangements.
One of the most significant changes, especially for new VFH providers, will the freeze on loan growth. VET providers will only be able to offer VFH loans up to the maximum of their 2015 loan amounts, providing no opportunity for expansion.
VET sector stakeholders endorse government’s deregulation agenda. In a media release on 13 November 2015, the Minister for Vocational Education and Skills, the Hon Luke Hartsuyker MP said that a recent survey by ASQA showed that 74 per cent of industry stakeholders agreed or strongly agreed that VET regulatory reforms implemented in 2014 had reduced the regulatory burden on the sector.
Councils and Committees
COAG Industry Skills Council Communiqué – 20 November 2015. The skills session of the Council of Australia Governments (COAG) Industry and Skills Council met in Hobart on 20 November. This was the first session chaired by the Hon Luke Hartsuyker MP, Australian Government Minister for Vocational Education and Skills.
To ensure high quality within the system, the CISC agreed that further reform options be developed to improve the quality of assessment of student training outcomes. CISC agreed that Minister Hartsuyker will consult with VET stakeholders and jurisdictions on options to improve assessment in VET and report back to CISC with possible reform options in 2016.
Australian Industry Skills Committee Communiqué – 1 December 2015. The Australian Industry and Skills Committee held its fifth meeting in Hobart on 1 December 2015 chaired by Mr John Pollaers.
COAG Communiqué – 11 December 2015. At its 41st meeting today in Sydney, COAG focussed on reforms to drive economic growth, improve living standards and make our community safer.
The Council noted that further work will be undertaken on options to reform vocational education and training, for initial consideration at COAG’s first meeting in 2016.
In the latest update from the Unique Identifiers Registrar on 1 December 2015 it was reported that we have officially reached over 3.8 Million USIs.
The update includes:
- Fresh new look website!
- New USI helpline
- Transcripts are coming – Get your data right!
- Inform, Create/Collect, Verify and Report!
Student Identifiers Registrar appointed. Minister for Vocational Education and Skills the Hon Luke Hartsuyker has welcomed the appointment of Mr Jason Coutts as the Unique Student Indentifiers (USI) Registrar, responsible for overseeing the USI initiative nationally. Mr Coutts has over 20 years’ experience in the education sector, including the role of Head of the USI Taskforce.
Training Package News
Training package changes. There are new releases of the following training packages:
- MSM Release 1.0: 15 December 2015
- RII Release 2.0: 14 December 2015
- HLT Release 3.0: 8 December 2015
- CHC Release 3.0: 8 December 2015
- NWP Release 1.0: 7 December 2015
- SIS Release 2.0: 7 December 2015
- MEA Release 1.3: 17 November 2015
Events, Resourcing & Funding News
Australian apprenticeship update
Click on the link below to view the Training Package qualifications recently implemented in States and Territories.
Victorian VET funding review
The Victorian government has released the Final Report of The VET Funding Review (Mackenzie Report) with 109 recommendations.
Skills minister Steve Herbert says the government accepts the “general thrust” of the report and its recommendations. It will take the next year to work through design and implementation issues and to consult with stakeholders ahead of the introduction of a new funding model in 2017.
Recent VET Publications
Financial information 2014
This publication provides information on how government-funded vocational education and training (VET) in Australia is financed and where the money is spent. The publication is based on 2014 data provided by the Australian government, and state and territory government departments responsible for administering public funds for Australia’s VET system.
Supporting tertiary students with a disability or mental illness: good practice guide
Through the implementation of the principles outlined in this good practice guide, teaching staff and disability services staff in tertiary institutions will be better positioned to provide additional supports for students with a disability or mental illness. Based on two research reports, which consider the perspectives of students, disability services workers and teaching staff, this guide offers a wide range of individual and institution-level learning supports with the aim of improving the educational experience and rate of course completions for students with a disability or mental illness.
Interpreting total VET activity data
Following the release of total VET activity (TVA) data, NCVER has added to the information available about this important data collection, including information about interpreting TVA data. NCVER will continue to add fact sheets and other information to the range of TVA products to help further understanding of this significant release of data.
Industry restructuring and job loss: helping older workers get back into employment
Restructuring in the Australian manufacturing industry has resulted in many Australians being displaced from their jobs. This particularly impacts older, lower-skilled workers. Involving an extensive review of past research and case studies in four states, this research identifies practices that can assist with the successful skills transfer, re-skilling and the attainment of new jobs by displaced older workers in the manufacturing industry.
The news articles presented in this edition of VET News have been researched and prepared by Anne Maree Newbery.
Copyright © 2014 Newbery