The Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia (ITECA) has had a robust conversation with government on the need to allow independent providers in the higher education, vocational education, training and skills sectors to focus on students and not red-tape. This would see routine reporting and compliance activity suspended in the short-term.
Key Issues —
The response to the Covid-19 outbreak is placing an unprecedented strain on independent tertiary education providers as they work to support students. Challenges with on-site delivery, a transition to online training and assessment and trying to figure out what to do when work placements aren’t possible are just some of the issues confronting independent providers and their students. To ensure that these providers are properly focussed on supporting students, ITECA has advised government, in the strongest possible terms, to suspend routine compliance and reporting activity.
The advice and guidance that ITECA has received from its members has been first-rate and identified that one of the most immediate challenges is one of ongoing compliance and reporting burden.
“This is the time for government to get behind the independent tertiary education sector and allow ITECA’s members to focus on supporting students rather than red-tape. Right now, our members are focussed on keeping their doors open so students can continue their studies so the last thing they need is to spend time filling-in government forms,” said Troy Williams, ITECA Chief Executive.
The higher education regulator, the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) has been asked to suspend all routine compliance and reporting activity. A similar request has been made to the regulators in the vocational education and training (VET) sector, including the Australian Skills Qualifications Authority (ASQA) and its counterparts in Victoria and Western Australia. The exception would be compliance and reporting activity that regulators have merited as either ‘high risk’ or where issues have been identified which merit a higher red-tape burden. In circumstances where an independent tertiary education provider is in a position to undertake compliance activity, naturally this should occur.
ITECA’s commitment to working with government to maintain public confidence in the integrity of the tertiary education sector; however, right now the focus needs to be on ensuring the sustainability of the sector.
The shared experience of ITECA members is being fed to TEQSA, ASQA and the vocational education and training regulators in Victoria and Western Australia. This has seen these regulators produce alternative approaches to compliance activity. Some mandatory reporting deadlines have been pushed back by one month and the implementation of ‘desk-based’ audits has been widespread. However, ITECA members have indicated that this isn’t enough to be effective at providing relief.
ITECA, working on the feedback provided by members, has also asked state government funding bodies to review routine reporting activity where this would not compromise program integrity.
It’s been the advice and guidance that members have provided the advocacy team that has driven this advice to government. ITECA’s engagement with members extends around the clock and these conversations shape the direction of ITECA’s advocacy and subsequent response by government.
This measure is one initiative within a comprehensive package of measures that ITECA has put to government to support the independent tertiary education sector deal with the adverse impact of measures to deal with the Covid-19 virus outbreak.
Member Engagement —
ITECA’s ability to play a lead role in matters associated with this issue rests on the advice and guidance of individuals serving on the ITECA Higher Education Reference Committee and ITECA Vocational Education Reference Committee.
Further Information —
For more information on this issue please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 1300 421 017. Stay up to date via Twitter @ITECAust or via Facebook at www.facebook.com/ITECAust.
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