This Fact Sheet has been prepared to support RTOs to maintain the quality of their services and demonstrate compliance with the Standards for Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) 2015, particularly the requirements of Standard 2. This fact sheet does not provide specific instruction on quality assurance processes but is designed to draw attention to the obligations of the RTO with regard to quality assurance.
The primary focus of Standard 2 in the Standards for RTOs is monitoring and improving the quality of RTO services.
The requirement in Standard 2 goes well beyond the quality of training
and assessment to include all aspects of the RTO. The glossary defines ‘operations’ as
“including training, assessment and administration and support services
relating to its registration, including those delivered across jurisdictions
The context statement for Standard 2 states that “The RTO is ultimately
responsible for ensuring quality training and assessment within their
organisation and scope of registration, regardless of any third-party
arrangements where training and/or assessment is delivered on their behalf,” and concludes by observing that “evaluating information about performance and
using such information to inform quality assurance of services and improve
training and assessment is sound business and educational practice. The
information used to evaluate RTO performance must be relevant to the operating
characteristics and business objectives of the RTO and will vary from one RTO
There is no uniform strategy for quality assurance, and RTOs are
expected to develop their own processes to reflect their clients, industry,
operational modes and objectives.
Clause 2.1 indicates that
the RTO must “comply with these Standards at all times”, and again reminds us
that this also applies “where services are delivered on its behalf.”
Clause 2.2 provides
some detail on process, indicating that the RTO:
“systematically monitors the RTO’s training and assessment strategies
and practices to ensure ongoing compliance with Standard 1”; and
"systematically" evaluates and uses the outcomes of the evaluations to continually
improve the RTO’s training and assessment strategies and practices. Evaluation information includes but is not
limited to quality/performance data…validation outcomes, client, trainer and
assessor feedback and complaints and appeals.”
Clause 2.3 requires written agreements with third-party providers,
leading to Clause 2.4 which requires the RTO to ensure that it “has sufficient
strategies and resources to systematically monitor any services delivered on
its behalf …”
We can see from these
references, that there are two parts to quality assurance:
Compliance with the Standards by the RTO and third-party providers
across all the RTO’s operations; and
The continuous improvement of training and assessment strategies and
The first of these parts is driven by the formal structure of the
Standards, whereas the second is less well defined and there is no clear
guidance on what would constitute ‘improvement’.
Compliance with the Standards for RTOs
The Standards for RTOs define sound business and training and assessment practices and are a primary indicator of the quality of the services provided by the RTO.
Compliance with the Standards is a continuing responsibility for an RTO across all its operations, including services delivered on its behalf by third-parties. While issues of compliance might be revealed at a TAC audit, an RTO is required to declare continuing compliance on an annual basis (Clause 8.4a) through the submission of the Annual Declaration on Compliance (due in September each year). This means that RTOs must conduct an internal audit of all its operations each year. To support RTOs in meeting this annual obligation, a Self-Assessment Tool is available on the TAC website. TAC has also published a Users' Guide to the Standards for RTOs and a number of Fact Sheets which may also assist RTOs in meeting their compliance obligations.
As the provision of services through third-party providers are part of
the RTO’s operations, these also need to be routinely audited by the RTO
(Clause 2.4) and may be audited by TAC (Clause 8.2). These third party arrangements and any
internal audit requirements need to be clearly specified as a part of the
written agreement between the parties (Clause 2.3) and should also include
strategies to monitor the training and assessment services delivered by
third-party providers to support continuous improvement.
Continuous improvement of training and assessment
strategies and practices
The core business of an RTO is the training, assessment and
certification of units of competency, skill sets and qualifications. The key stakeholders in the outcomes are
industry, employers, and learners and therefore, the RTO’s quality assurance monitoring
and improvements will draw heavily upon their impressions.
Industry engagement (Clauses 1.5 and 1.6) is an important way of
identifying industry needs and gauging industry responses about the RTOs
operations including its training and assessment. This is addressed further in
the Vocational Competence and Industry
Currency Fact Sheet. This engagement is a two way process, RTOs should
observe and learn from industry practices and standards, as well as industry
observing and commenting upon RTO standards and practices.
Employer satisfaction can be ascertained through the Employer Questionnaire. This can be administered to employers of
learners including apprentices or trainees and to employers of graduates of the
RTO. An employer survey can provide important feedback on the relevance and
application of the training to the workplace. Other evidence of quality can be
gleaned directly from workplace site visits, the employment destinations of
graduates, or by employers nominating the RTO to train their apprentices or
Learner satisfaction can be measured through the administration of a Learner Engagement Questionnaire. This survey can provide detailed information
about the experience of undertaking training at the RTO. Other evidence can be
gathered informally by trainers and assessors through student surveys, or formally
through issues raised in complaints and appeals (Clause 6.5b). Evidence of learner satisfaction should also
be gathered where services are provided on the RTO’s behalf by third-parties.
Those working within the RTO can also provide quality data, including
trainer and assessor feedback or feedback from student services and
administration. Competency outcomes and course completions are also indicators
of the RTO’s quality outcomes. These quality indicators from industry,
employers, learners and internal data available to the RTO need to be
aggregated and recorded.
In many ways, quality is elusive and intangible. Different observers
will have different criteria and different benchmarks for quality. The
indicators of quality will differ between RTOs depending upon objectives and
approach. What is important is that the RTO is self-reflective and strives to
improve its processes and practices to achieve its goals.
Care must be taken to ensure that commentators on the RTO are fully
informed about the operating characteristics and business objectives of the
RTO. For example, an RTO delivering training to ‘at risk’ learners might follow
a very different trajectory to another RTO; a critic of an RTO might not
understand the AQF level of a qualification and be disappointed with the work
of a Certificate 1 graduate; another RTO offering training to a pre-selected
experienced cohort may have an apparently insufficient training program. For these reasons, in seeking feedback it is
important to make sure that the respondent is fully informed of the RTO’s
intent, and in responding to feedback it is important to consider how well
informed is the critic.
Feedback and analysis is pointless without follow-up action. Where the evidence indicates that the RTO is
on track, this should be related back to those responsible for that achievement
and where the evidence indicates that there are areas for improvement, these
need to be acted upon.
Many RTOs maintain a record of required improvements, action to be
taken, persons responsible, deadlines and outcomes to manage their quality
improvement process. Where actions have
been completed, follow-up monitoring is advisable to assess the effectiveness
of the action in remediating the issue. This follow-up monitoring would generally
involve returning to the original source(s) of the concern(s) to reappraise the
situation after changes had been implemented. In some circumstances, the issue
may be remedied by refining the RTO’s objectives and expectations to ensure
that they are clear, appropriate and reasonable. There may also be a need to
revise and strengthen third-party arrangements.
Finally, there may be a call for individual or group professional
development as a part of the remedy (Clause 1.16).
Auditors look for documented evidence of a systematic process to monitor
and improve quality across all the RTO’s operations, including any third-party
arrangements. This might involve evidence of:
a statement of quality criteria for the RTO;
formal and informal strategies to gather evidence of quality;
strategies to collate and analyse quality evidence;
strategies to act on quality issues, and to manage quality improvement;
strategies to monitor the impact of changes.
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