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ASQA fees are going to be changing soon, due to a proposal outlined in the 2018-19 Federal Budget, in which the government marked its intention for the regulatory authority to move from a partial cost recovery, to a full cost recovery model. Currently, ASQA’s regulatory costs are partially subsidised by the taxpayer, allowing them to charge the training organisation less. In a full cost recovery model, full regulation costs will be passed onto the training organisation or user.
This move will bring ASQA’s recovery arrangements in line with the Australian Government Charging Framework, making charging activities more consistent with other areas of government. The increase in ASQA fees will result in an estimated annual saving of $34.1 million.
Currently, full cost recovery only occurs for activities requested by education providers (e.g. registration costs), but going forward, costs for all activity will be recouped. This includes activities such as ASQA compliance, monitoring, enforcement, and investigation.
The Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia (ITECA, formerly ACPET) is concerned that efficient, compliant RTOs will be penalised for the actions of inefficient, non-compliant RTOs, and as such, is pushing for the following to continue being subsidised by the taxpayer:
The changes to ASQA fees won’t happen without thorough consultation with sector stakeholders such as ITECA, which will ensure that the best possible outcome is reached, for all involved.
Originally, the changes were due to come into effect on 1st January 2019, but have since been moved to 1st July 2020. Consultation will occur with stakeholders prior to the final fees being forwarded to ministers, for approval by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG).
The changes to ASQA fees will be outlined in Cost Recovery Implementation Statements (CRIS), a legislative requirement that forms part of the approval process. This is yet to be released, making financial planning difficult. The new statements will include a review of broad-based operational costs and savings, further encouraged at a recent Skills Council meeting for the Council of Australian Governments (COAG):
“Members called for immediate work to be done to reform ASQA’s regulatory approach, improve confidence in the regulator and support continuous improvement in training provision across the VET sector”
Depending on the reforms that are undertaken, and with fingers crossed, training organisations might even end up paying less!
For independent higher education providers with self-accrediting status, ITECA has raised concerns of higher RTO compliance costs with the government. ASQA has acknowledged that fees and charges associated with dealing with compliant providers should not reflect the cost of dealing with non-compliant providers.
Keep an eye out for ASQA news, particularly the release of the updated CRIS. We’ll be publishing a summary of any key changes, as new information becomes available.
Thanks to Carol Hunter for her assistance with this article.