ASQA Chief Resigns As Reforms To The Regulator Announced!

ASQA's Chief Mark Patterson resigns, as the government announces much-needed reform of ASQA to better support the Vocational Education and Training Sector
Mark Paterson Resigns
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Scott Rogers

With over 10 years of experience in vocational education and training, Scott shares his expert advice and opinions on industry updates and changes impacting RTOs.

Scott's experience as CEO of three RTOs has exposed him to many ASQA audits and a decade of industry updates and changes. Scott understands that to be successful, RTOs must focus on quality, be adaptable to change, and ensure they focus on their learners first.
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The ASQA Chief Has Resigned!

Reform is coming to ASQA, and it appears that ASQA’s Chief, Mark Patterson, may not be too happy with the proposed reforms. In a joint media release, Senator Michaelia Cash and Steve Irons MP announced that the reforms would include ASQA taking a more educative approach to lifting the quality of vocational education and training (VET). It is my suspicion that the Chief was not happy with the move to being a supportive, educative regulator.

Chief Commissioner Mark Paterson, has been widely criticised by the VET community for ASQA’s slash and burn approach to regulating the standards for RTOs. ASQA has been responsible for an unprecedented number of regulatory actions taken in the last 12 month. Many of which are subsequently overturned when challenged by RTOs, before even making to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, or overturned by the AAT. In another article I have written, out have detailed how this regulator is also incorrectly regulating the standards leading to many incorrect regulatory decisions. You can read this HERE

Most leaders of the VET community believe the current litigative model of regulation is unconscionable and must stop.  The author of this article can only deduce that the Chief’s sudden resignation at the announcement of these reforms, did not fit with what I consider his “slash and burn” vision for ASQA. Mark Patterson is famously known for this quote, which really sums up his view of the regulator’s role:

“ASQA does not provide consultancy services. As the regulator, ASQA cannot teach applicants specifically how to comply with the standards.”

These latest ASQA reforms are in response to key recommendations of the Braithwaite and Joyce Review. The review proposed additional support for expanding ASQA’s scope to adopt a more educative approach to lifting quality in the delivery of vocational education and training. According to My Joyce, “a measure of a good regulator is not so much who it catches out as ensuring that the whole regulated community is operating confidently and effectively within the regulations set by the governing jurisdiction. Viewed in that way, the provision of guidance and advice is a crucial part of the role.”

Senator Michaela Cash announced that these reforms are in line with the Australian Government’s priority to improve the quality of VET education and ensuring the sector’s regulatory environment is reasonable, transparent and effective.  Steve Irons MP, said the Government has set a strong direction for the future of VET. “With appropriate regulatory reforms, we can deliver a vocational education sector that provides workforce skills and relevant up-to-date qualifications that are well-matched to the evolving opportunities of Australia’s modern economy.”

In the absence of Mark Patterson, ASQA’s Deputy Chief Commissioner, Saxon Rice, will act in the role of Chief Commissioner as of 7 October 2019.

What Does This Mean For VET

I believe that a regulator that has teeth where needed, however, has a primary function of educating and supporting the VET sector is exactly what we need. This knee jerk reaction to destroy RTOs due to poor implementation and monitoring of VET Fee Help Schemes es madness and I am a firm believer that it must stop.

I am very pleased to see that change is coming and only hope it is the change that this sector badly needs.

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