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TEQSA chief executive Anthony McClaran. Photo: TEQSA.

Rise in RTOs seeking registration as higher education providers

Since the demise of the infamous VET FEE-HELP scheme, there has been a spike in vocational colleges applying to become higher education institutions.

The Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency (TEQSA)’s quarterly report shows that 86 prospective providers applied to become higher education institutions since 31 December 2016. Of this number, 50 are registered training organisations.

The report also showed that of the 10 organisations that applied to become higher education providers in the second quarter of last year, eight were RTOs. Furthermore, the number of applications for TEQSA assessment grew from 24 in the first quarter of last year, to 35 in the second quarter.

TEQSA has only approved three organisations over the past two quarters.

The regulator’s chief executive Anthony McClaran said: “TEQSA has seen a distinct rise in interest from RTOs seeking registration as higher education providers over the last two years.

“However, the agency is unable to comment on the motivations for organisations seeking entry to the sector.

“It is important to note that not all applicants have previously been registered for VET FEE-HELP.”

McClaran said TEQSA has, and is using, regulatory powers to scrutinise its approved organisations on a case-by-case basis.

“In deciding to register new higher education providers, TEQSA applies the principles for regulation in our legislation: regulatory necessity, reflecting risk and proportionate regulation,” McClaran said.

“TEQSA is able to exercise regulatory powers with regard to new applicants and this may include the introduction of strict conditions, shortened registration periods and, in serious circumstances, TEQSA can reject an application if it is not convinced with the applicant’s ability to meet the threshold standards.

“TEQSA’s risk-based approach to regulating higher education includes monitoring key aspects of a provider’s operations during registration periods, which involves a higher level of scrutiny of new or high risk providers.

“This approach is taken regardless of whether a new provider is also operating as an RTO.

“TEQSA also collaborates with other Commonwealth, state and territory agencies in monitoring the operation of higher education providers.”

The VET FEE-HELP was demolished at the end of last year, and replaced by federal education minister Simon Birmingham’s VET Student Loans policy.

VET FEE-HELP had loopholes that led to certain vocational colleges rorting it, saddling students with debt and leaving a $3 billion hole in the federal Budget.

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One comment

  1. I am currently doing a crash course in just-for-profit education.

    My university has recently linked up with a private provider to operate a new campus.

    The private provider is now offering duplicates of our units and courses. They have been given access to our unit web pages and told to help themselves to all our teaching material. We do not get access to their unit web pages.

    The private provider employs casual teachers at a significantly lower rate than we pay. They are told to read our lectures to the students, and not to deviate from our notes.

    We have no say in who they employ, and it is apparent that some of the teachers have little idea of the subject matter nor ability to teach. We also have no opportunity to advise the students about their course or units.

    Some students have come to me trying to transfer to the proper university. Despite being their the course advisor, I am not allowed to approve their applications. When I approached the provider to organise the transfer, they were well sort of co-operative.

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