Is your RTO 100% compliant with the new ASQA audit model?

Is your RTO 100% compliant with the new ASQA audit model?

Posted on Sep 29, 2016

(Part 1 of a 2-Blog Series)

While much of the current commentary from government and the sector centres on ASQA standards, funding levels and split of VET and Higher Ed pies, ACPET CEO, Rod Camm’s weekly piece accurately describes the data and reporting challenges across the sector. These challenges and the evolving use of data by government are changing our businesses profoundly.

Data will be used in new ways – the recent case in point is the new ASQA audit model and how it manages provider risk. On the 27th of September, the sector formally shifted to a customised audit model underpinned by data-driven provider risk profiles.

At its core, this proactive approach gives auditors “a commission to rove” with non-compliance now mapped across the key phases of the student experience as well as a more constrained resolution process.

What are the core changes to the ASQA audit model?

According to ASQA, the new approach aims to focus on the practices and behaviours of your RTO as well as assessing core systems and processes.

The ASQA audit will now revolve around activities focused on the five key phases of the student experience, namely marketing and recruitment; enrolment; support and progression; training and assessment; and completion.

This is a radical departure from the iterative audit process of old – it now appears that there are quite limited opportunities for you to respond to ASQA findings regarding non-compliance.

RTO’s who have recently been audited under this pilot indicate that auditors are given a very broad brief, using their judgement and risk intelligence to determine the direction of the audit.

In line with this proactive risk management approach, audits can be conducted with shorter preparation windows, investigating any nook or cranny of your institution’s operations based on where the data and risk indicators lead.

ASQA will spend the rest of 2016 piloting the new system before its full implementation next year.

So, what does this mean to your RTO?

Having spoken with many VET/RTO leaders, the key reactions are uncertainty regarding the process and concern as the effect of regulatory interventions on RTOs’ operations would be immense.

Provider risk is now defined by your RTO’s dynamic risk profile and this profile drives the timing and scope of audit activities. One key indicator used in profiling your RTO is your compliance history. This indicator mirrors your organisation’s recent record of compliance in meeting its core regulatory obligations.

Based on your business’ risk profile and compliance history, the ASQA auditors may conduct more thorough and frequent investigations once this new audit model has been implemented. Without the previous approach’s capacity to resolve compliance questions over time, non-compliance may damage your RTO’s reputation and viability in a more immediate way.

Three key areas you must to take note of

Your team should be aware of and be prepared for how:

  1. Proactive regulatory management and risk mitigation have replaced the previous reactive approach.
  2. Data driven, evidence-based provider risk profiles drive customised audits.
  3. Student experiences provide the framework for determining non-compliance.

I hope the following comparison of the new and old audit models, which is based on direct feedback from our consultation with other VET leaders helps to put the changes and increased risk to providers in perspective.


What can you do?

Firstly, understand the real impact of the changes on your business – both the opportunities that would flow from improved practice and the actual cost of inaction, maintaining a “business as usual” approach.

Secondly, have a flexible plan to ensure your risk profile and underpinning data are proactively managed and ready for whatever may come.

Simply put, without access to quite granular student experience data and proactive resolution processes, your RTO’s viability is at increased risk.

Fortunately, there are systems available today that effectively build and report on the required data that ASQA seeks and can map it across the student experience to support compliance.

In the second instalment of my two-part blog on ASQA’s new audit model, I will share RTO experiences, how systems have improved data access and impacted risk profiles, and discuss how to ensure your RTO is ready for 2017.

If you have questions on the new ASQA audit model, feel free to contact me at or call at 0422 028 719.