A guide for Australian RTOs to navigate the new ASQA learner-centred audit approach.


Two of Australia’s most dynamic and respected RTO Advisory firms, Sydney-based RTO Advance and Melbourne-based Marcus Sellen & Associates, have co-authored an industry white paper aimed at providing Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) with a roadmap for successfully navigating the new learner-centered audit approach.

“While there will be earth-shattering implications for RTOs who are unable to align with the new ASQA learner-centered audit approach,” explains Judith Bowler of RTO Advance, and co-author of the ‘Comply & Grow Your RTO’ white paper, “we believe there are ground-breaking opportunities for the RTOs that are willing to get it right, exceed expectations, and take their business to a whole new level.”

A recent report by Deloitte Global examined the concept of risk management as a value creator and as a method to accelerate business performance by embracing innovation. The report highlighted the inherent risk many senior executives and business owners currently face in the modern business world by failing to take a proactive approach to compliance with industry regulations.

Applying this perspective to the new learner-centered compliance model initiated recently by the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA), the ‘Comply & Grow Your RTO’ industry white paper sets out to chart an innovative course for Australian RTOs to leverage risk management as part of their organisation’s annual strategic planning to create value.

Central to the new ASQA audit model is the accountability of private training and education providers for identifying and correcting non-compliant practices and behaviours that may occur across several stages of the learner journey, focusing on each step of the marketing and recruitment, enrolment, support and progression, training and assessment, and completion process. It also has a focus on assessing the impact of any non-compliance on learners and undertaking remedial actions, which can include the requirement to reassess past and current students.

“In our view, the Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector has traditionally approached the audit and compliance process reactively, and merely as a means to an end,” adds Marcus Sellen of Marcus Sellen & Associates, and co-author of the ‘Comply & Grow Your RTO’ white paper.

“But what if you turned around your organisation’s attitude to strategically embrace risk management and compliance as an opportunity for your RTO to be recognised as one of the greatest contributors of excellence to the Australian vocational education and training sector?”

The ‘Comply & Grow Your RTO’ white paper outlines a series of proactive steps to unlock the true business potential of private education and training enterprises, and to use compliance as a lever to scale for increased business and revenue growth. The five steps to unlocking an RTO’s true business potential are:

1. Set the Benchmark for Excellence – by using compliance as a platform and lever for business growth
2. Take a Proactive Approach to Audit – by incorporating compliance into strategy planning
3. Conduct a Compliance Health Check – by bringing in industry experts for internal audits
4. Take it to The Next Level – by planning for innovation to achieve strategic business growth
5. Align Risk to Value Creation – by adopting a whole new attitude towards compliance

To achieve success in the new audit and compliance paradigm that is emerging in the Australian VET sector, the ‘Comply & Grow Your RTO’ white paper recommends implementing agile and innovative systems to start scaling your RTO for success.

“This means establishing a learner-centered approach for your RTO across the board, where the vocational education and career goals of both your students and staff are paramount,” continues Judith.

“Delivering high quality learning and assessment materials that provide learners with the skills and understanding they need to step into the jobs of the 21st century should be your first priority, however creating additional professional development value for your executives and staff has the potential to propel your organisation’s reputation as an industry benchmark of excellence into the stratosphere.”

RTO Advance and Marcus Sellen & Associates have recently formed an alliance to deliver the ‘Comply & Grow Your RTO’ strategic growth accelerator program for Australian Registered Training Organisations. The program is delivered in two phases, commencing with assisting RTOs coming up for re-registration in the next 12 months to comply with the Standard and prepare for the new ASQA learner-centred audit model.

After successful compliance, for those RTOs willing to take their business to the next level the second phase of the ‘Comply & Grow Your RTO’ program focuses on strategic business planning to incorporate best-practice student and alumni engagement, contemporary online marketing strategies, staff professional development, as well as executive coaching and boardroom governance.

“The new ASQA audit model provides a key opportunity for those of us in the vocational education and training sector who are brave enough to take the first steps into the new frontier, and who remain passionate and committed to the transformational power of education, to continue to lead the way for the industry,” concludes Judith.