Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia Media Release
Legislation introduced into the Australian Parliament to amend the skills training system’s regulatory framework could be strengthened by the addition of provisions to avoid regulatory overreach. That’s the position of the Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia (ITECA), the peak body representing independent providers in the skills training, higher education, and international education sectors.
“ITECA will always welcome measures that seek to put students at the heart of the skills training system and protect them. Although the Australian Government’s legislative amendments have this broad intent, there are also some concerning aspects to what’s proposed,” said Troy Williams, ITECA Chief Executive.
The amendments to the National Vocational Education Training Regulator Act 2011 (Cth) appear to create a power that would allow the government to effectively ban the establishment of new independent Registered Training Organisations (RTOs). It would also place a ban on some RTOs expanding the support provided to students by offering new nationally accredited courses.
“This is a degree of market intervention that we’ve not seen before, not only in the skills training system but elsewhere in the economy. It would be concerning if the legislation to be introduced into the Parliament today did not clearly articulate why and for how long the government may act to stop the creation of new RTOs, nor spell out in what circumstances it would stop existing RTOs from seeking to offer new accredited courses,” Mr. Williams said.
ITECA has written to the Australian Government recommending that safeguard measures be put in place. This may necessitate an amendment to the Bill as currently before the Australian Parliament.
“ITECA wants to see amendments that strengthen the legislation by putting in place safeguards. These include placing a limit on the amount of time that a ban on new RTOs would be in place. It’s also sensible that the government publish the underpinning reason for making such decisions,” Mr. Williams said.
As the peak body representing independent RTOs, ITECA has been a long-standing proponent of reforms that put in place stronger student protection mechanisms. This is important given that independent providers support more than 89% of the 4.6 million students in skills training, including more than half of all apprentices and trainees.
“Official data shows that on many key metrics of student and employer satisfaction, independent RTOs achieve the best outcomes. It’s in this context that we’re seeking amendments to put in place safeguards that allow RTOs with a commitment to quality to grow,” Mr. Williams said.
ITECA is convening a briefing for independent RTOs on 21 February 2024 to update senior executives from the skills training sector on the legislation.
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