ASQA Sets Direction for Australia’s International Education Sector in Regulatory Strategy 2019-21

Australia’s International Educational Sector Highlighted in ASQA’s Regulatory Strategy 2019-21

Numbers released by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) showed that the total number of international student (studying both onshore and offshore) increased by 10.4% to an estimated 185,300 students. This growing number of overseas students enrolling in VET has resulted to an increase of registered providers delivering VET courses to overseas students and offering English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students (ELICOS) or delivering training offshore.

A Strategic Review in 2017 of the international VET and English language education services delivered by ASQA-regulated providers showed compliance risk with the offshore delivery of VET. The report also contained evidence of the failure of some VET providers in meeting their obligations to ensure overseas students receive accurate information about their courses, meet the prerequisites for courses and participate in a minimum number of contact hours per week. The report says that non-compliance can result in significant hardship to overseas students and undermine community confidence in the VET sector and student visa program.

The report recommends making amendments to the National Code to make it clear that RTOs require overseas student attend courses on a full-time basis, ensure that the agency has the right data to monitor activity and eliminate poor behaviour, and ensuring offshore student receive the same protection as students on Australia.

What are the Regulatory Risks to the CRICOS Sector?

  • student non-attendance
  • enrolment growth
  • English-language capabilities
  • education agents
  • students transfers between providers
  • providers with multiple operations
  • Provider Registration and International Student Management System (PRISMS) data issues

What is ASQA’s Response to these Regulatory Risks?

  • continuing to place a priority on the scrutiny of CRICOS providers’ compliance, using the risk factors identified during the Review and enhanced regulatory strategies designed to detect non-compliant behaviour
  • assessing the compliance of VET providers operating in key offshore markets—including in China—offering assessment-only services in foreign countries, and offering 100 per cent online delivery to international students
  • developing information for CRICOS and ELICOS providers, and providers delivering VET offshore, to support a positive approach to compliance by clearly explaining all requirements specific to these delivery arrangements prioritised based on the risk factors identified in the Review
  • expanding the existing information-sharing protocols with state and territory governments to include agencies with responsibility for international education and establish an agreement with Austrade to facilitate the exchange of information in relation to CRICOS providers, overseas student issues and the delivery of VET offshore.
  • improve its ability to detect risk through the use of PRISMS data and interagency information sharing
  • collaborate with other organisations who share responsibility for the broader regulatory framework governing the international education sector, in responding to the other recommendations made by the Review.

ASQA’s Regulatory Strategy 2019-2021 outlines the agency’s policies and priorities for the next two years. This should provide valuable information especially for RTOs delivering VET education to overseas students.

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