In adopting a student experience focussed audit model, ASQA are now looking at Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) practices and behaviours rather than systems and processes. What this means is that what you do is far more important than what you say you are going to do. ASQA received 2,350 complaints about RTOs in 2015-16 and 2,180 in 2016-17*. One only has to look at the ever growing list of cancelled or sanctioned RTOs on ASQA’s website to know that poor behaviours and practices are no longer being overlooked and certainly won’t be tolerated.
How do you protect your RTO? The answer is fairly obvious.
Employ skilled staff, equip them with effective processes and systems, and provide them with regular professional development. This does not just mean your trainer assessors; you need to continually develop all of your RTO team members. They all have a role to play and need to understand how that fits into the VET landscape.
Don’t promise what you can’t deliver. This means making sure your marketing and advertising actually reflects what you offer and how you deliver it. Promises of “this qualification will get you a job in…..” are a trigger for ASQA to take a closer look at your organisation, so, if you are making this promise you had better be sure you can demonstrate that people are getting an employment outcome through your program. Ensure that you provide plenty of information to allow your potential students to make an informed decision. Costs and equipment that the student needs to supply for their own use, duration of training and assessment requirements should never come as a surprise.
Understand the requirements of your training package/s and what your industry expects, and train and assess accordingly. Industry engagement is vital. All industries are experiencing constant and rapid changes to the technology, equipment and machinery they use. Work practices are continuously evolving to address these changes so your training and assessment must also evolve to ensure your students are gaining current skills and knowledge.
Engage with your students often and make it easy for them to engage with you – encourage feedback, resolve issues quickly and identify areas for improvement and then action them. If a student isn’t progressing find out why and put support in place to help them get back on track. Students can no long be allowed to “fall through the cracks”.
Finally record, record, record all of your interactions with your students and your industry contacts!! Record the professional development (PD) plans and activities of your team and keep your schedule of PD events up to date. In the past some RTOs did not do this well but it is vital that you do this now. Apart from records of your behaviours and practices (student engagement, industry engagement etc) informing the continuous improvement of your business they will also:
- reduce the chance of the dreaded complaint triggered audit,
- provide your students with a positive learning experience,
- show your team that you value them,
- improve your staff retention and your ability to attract new team members.
That sounds like a win, win, win to me.
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