The Albanese Government is improving the integrity of Australia’s Vocational Education and Training sector to combat operators attempting to rort the system and to better protect vulnerable students.
A new Integrity Unit will be established within the national VET regulator, the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA), bolstered by a $37.8 million investment to ensure it is adequately equipped and has the technology and data matching capability to identify and respond proactively to unethical and potentially illegal activity.
Boosting ASQA’s capacity will enable a compliance blitz on unlawful behaviour, targeting non genuine providers who may be exploiting international students.
The integrity unit will work in conjunction with Home Affairs, the Australian Federal Police and other Commonwealth and State law enforcement agencies to conduct intense compliance checks on high-risk providers – ensuring a safer VET sector for all students, both domestic and international.
To support the work of the unit the Albanese Government investment will fund an uplift in digital and data systems, that will enable ASQA to further support intelligence gathering and sharing with other agencies, to boost compliance and law enforcement efforts and identify trends or activity that may be evidence of unlawful behaviour.
A confidential VET tip-off line will also be established for current and former students, staff, and other potential whistle-blowers such as homestay hosts and employers of international students.
The tip-off line will provide a safe and confidential avenue to anonymously report alleged serious noncompliance, such as inappropriate or fraudulent practices of training organisations, via phone or ASQA’s website.
These measures follow recommendations by the Migration Review and the Rapid Review into the Exploitation of Australia’s Visa System, also known as the Nixon Review.
These new initiatives build on recent action taken to improve Registered Training Organisation Standards and the strengthened Standard Fit and Proper Person requirements, which provide
ASQA with better tools to prevent unethical and disreputable providers. Further measures to strengthen RTO legislation will be presented to a meeting of Skills Ministers in November.
Quotes attributable to Brendan O’Connor, Minister for Skills and Training
“We are working to weed out the minority of non-genuine VET providers, the bottom feeders, who seek to exploit people and traduce the integrity and reputation of the entire sector in the process.
“The sense of drift regarding VET is over.
“A significant boost to ASQA’s capacity will enable a compliance blitz on unlawful behaviour as we combat the unethical and badly performing training providers.
“These actions are aimed at stopping domestic and international students and graduates from being exploited by unscrupulous operators.
“I will continue to pursue changes to VET legislation necessary to ensure ASQA has the regulatory powers it needs to prevent and remove non-genuine training organisations from the sector.”
Quotes attributable to Jason Clare, Minister for Education
“International students are back, but so are the shonks seeking to exploit them and undermine our international education system.
“This boost to the VET regulator is an important next step in strengthening the integrity of our tertiary education sector.
“This builds on the integrity measures we have already announced to our international education system.”
Quotes attributable to Clare O’Neil, Minister for Home Affairs
“Dodgy training providers have no place in VET, international education and our migration system.
“These actions are part of broader measures this week to restore integrity to our international education and migration systems.
“These measures support actions we are looking to take under the ESOS Act to issue suspension certificates to high-risk education providers.”