Advancing Australia’s VET Sector – curated industry news #2 2020

Dear friends and colleagues,

Last month we were concerned that the COVID-19 outbreak was one of the biggest crises to ever hit international education in Australia, now it has become apparent that it’s our biggest crisis full stop.

However, it’s important we take the time to reflect that although a crisis implies ‘danger’ it also reveals the potential for ‘opportunity’. Now more than ever we are presented with the opportunity to elevate the role and delivery format of online education.

Claire Field from Claire Field Associates recently shared a link to a free webinar on how to transform learning online. She points out it’s not simply enough for face-to-face providers to convert their learning materials into PowerPoints and videos to share online in the traditional one-way communication format, as online learning has evolved into being based on two-way and interactive communication between educators and learners. Education providers will need to pivot to this new format quickly, or face losing their students to more savvy providers.

Some more thoughts from Claire on what COVID-19 means for Australia’s VET and Higher Education sectors are included in this thoughtful blog post >>

Claire notes that this dreadful situation offers an opportunity for our industry, with education being a counter-cyclical industry (when unemployment is high, more people enrol in courses which also often attracts government funding) and she emphasises the need for us all to be committed to meeting the needs of unemployed workers (trapped within their own homes) as one of our major priorities.

“With some targeted support from governments, Australian VET and higher education providers will be able to keep their operations open and may in fact enrol additional students (albeit online) in the months ahead… [however] We need both ASQA and TEQSA to step up and engage with online learning like they never have before. All providers wanting to remain open in the months ahead will need to switch to online delivery. The regulators need to do the same – and have their auditors remote logging in to provider’s systems to observe and monitor the learning which is taking place.” 

The Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia (ITECA) has shared its views that industry regulators were going out of their way to assist the sector by allowing companies to mothball their operations rather than officially shut down.

“ASQA has recognised that providers may need to implement temporary measures as they adapt and respond to the challenges caused by the response to the Covid-19 virus outbreak.  In response to ITECA’s advocacy on behalf of its members, ASQA has provided an assurance that it is committed to providing a flexible regulatory approach to support providers to maintain quality. ASQA has advised that if independent RTOs need to implement temporary measures, there is the flexibility to do so.  These measures could include: changes to where you deliver training; temporary cessation of, or part of, your training operations; adjustments to delivery modes or methods.”

Read more here on ASQA stepping up to support independent education providers >>

And here is a useful link to Federal and State financial assistance support for small and medium business >>

ITECA has also released a Sustainability Action Plan, containing 22 initiatives that it believes the Australian government needs to implement immediately to support independent education providers as a matter of urgency.

“As the response to the COVID-19 virus outbreak causes students to stay at home, classes to be suspended and the total evaporation of forward international student enrolments, the independent tertiary education system is facing a challenge to its sustainability.”

The initiatives include:

  • $180 million in direct financial support
  • $13 million to assist the transition to online learning
  • ASQA & TEQSA Cost recovery implementation delay
  • ASQA, TEQSA, VRQA & TACWA Compliance abatement measures
  • Assistance for students unable to meet work placement requirements
  • Expediting payments from government to providers
  • Suspending the VSL and FEE-HELP loan fee

For a little relief from the present and a glimpse into a more positive future, here’s a great link to five scenarios for the future of learning and talent from the ‘Education in 2030’ report by Holon IQ >>

“The global education market is set to reach at least $10T by 2030 as population growth in developing markets fuels a massive expansion and technology drives unprecedented re-skilling and up-skilling in developed economies. The next decade will see an additional 350 million post secondary graduates and nearly 800 million more K12 graduates than today. Asia and Africa are the driving force behind the expansion. The world needs to add 1.5 million teachers per year on average, approaching 100 million in total in order to keep pace with the unprecedented changes ahead in education around the world.”

As regular readers of this Newsletter will know I do not usually promote the services of RTO Advance via this newsletter preferring that it be a service to our clients by providing relevant and well-researched information. However, during these challenging times I wanted to remind our readers that RTO Advance has developed a new service to assist clients to maintain a quality assured and compliant registered training organisation through these unprecedented times.

Many RTOs have previously been involved in regulatory issues with ASQA and as a result are now looking for a cost-effective way to maintain a high degree of ongoing operational compliance – and we are here to help. Now is the ideal time to ensure your RTO is audit compliant and quality assured with help from our team of expert industry advisors through our new remote internal audit and compliance service.


By staying ahead of the game, through addressing compliance and any identified regulatory issues before they occur, RTOs can avoid the costly and time-consuming task of rectifying non-compliances that can cause problems with the regulator. Many of these cases involve the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) and incur substantial legal and consultant fees.

RTO Advance has the expertise and staff who can provide ongoing RTO quality assurance and compliance support. We have found that by undertaking scheduled internal compliance reviews and providing ongoing help desk and administrative support, our clients remain up to date with their regulatory requirements.

This annual service includes:

  • two internal audits each calendar year against the Standards for RTOs 2015, and if the RTO is CRICOS registered, the ESOS Act and National Code 2018.
  • comprehensive audit reports that identify any non-compliances
  • an action plan setting out any rectification recommendations
  • appointing an RTO Advance expert as your regular client liaison contact
  • three RTO document templates
  • email and telephone help desk support to answer questions and provide advice.

For more details please take a look at our website >>

Please all stay safe and well, best wishes from all of us here in the RTO Advance team and know that we are here to help – whether that’s just for a morale-boosting chat or for assistance to propel your business proactively forwards while you’ve got some downtime WE ARE HERE FOR YOU! While none of us could have predicted this, it might just be the circuit-breaker we all needed. Seek out the positives and feel free to get in contact with us at any time.

Best regards

Judith Bowler
Educational Strategist & Founder