The need to apply strong safeguards for the quality of nationally recognised training is important for any system of education and training. It is particularly accentuated in training markets made up of multiple for-profit and not-for-profit providers.
The National Framework for the Recognition of Training (NFROT), introduced in 1992, established national principles for accreditation of courses, registration of training providers, credit transfer, recognition of prior learning, and assessment. NFROT was replaced by the Australian Recognition Framework (ARF) in 1998. ARF provided a set of nationally agreed registration requirements for training providers and their products and services. ARF Arrangements were reviewed in June 2001 and replaced by the Australian Quality Training Framework (AQTF). In 2011, the VET Quality Framework was introduced.
What is the VET Quality Framework?
The VET Quality Framework (VQF) is a set of standards and conditions used by the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA), the national VET regulator, to assess whether registered training organisations (RTOs) under its jurisdiction meet the requirements for registration. The Framework aims to achieve greater national consistency in the registration of RTOs and enforcement of standards in the VET sector. It comprises:
- Standards for registered training organisations (RTOs) 2015
- Fit and proper person requirements
- Financial viability risk assessment requirements 2011
- Data provision requirements 2012
- Australian Qualifications Framework.
All RTOs in the Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, the Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania, and RTOs in Victoria and Western Australia who offer courses to overseas students or students in states other than in Victoria and Western Australia, come under ASQA’s jurisdiction and must comply with the VET Quality Framework.
As the national VET regulator, ASQA also accredits courses that may be offered and/or delivered by RTOs. The Standards for VET accredited courses 2021 apply to all courses regulated by ASQA.
What is the AQTF?
The Australian Quality Training Framework (AQTF) was developed from the Australian Recognition Framework (ARF) in 2001 and represented the first approach to quality assure the provision of vocational education and training (VET) in Australia. It was applied within the jurisdictions through state and territory regulators and was aimed at ensuring the qualifications and statements of attainment in training packages and accredited courses issued by providers would be recognised throughout Australia. AQTF 2001 comprised:
- Standards for registered training organisations
- Standards for registering and course accrediting bodies.
Following its implementation in 2002, the AQTF was reviewed and revised in 2005, 2007 and 2010. Minor changes were made in 2005 followed by more substantial changes in 2007 when a more streamlined approach to quality assurance was introduced and the standards for RTOs were divided in two to differentiate between RTOs registering for the first time and those renewing their registration.
Following a review in 2008, changes were made to the AQTF essential conditions and standards for initial registration and the AQTF essential conditions and standards for continuing registration in 2010 to provide regulators with rules to protect the interests of all VET students in Australia.
AQTF standards and companion documents, including superseded editions, are available in VOCEDplus.
Who uses the AQTF?
With the passing of the National VET Regulator Act 2011 and the establishment of the national VET regulator, all states and territories, except Victoria and Western Australia, came under ASQA’s jurisdiction and transferred to the VET Quality Framework. Victoria and Western Australia have maintained their own state regulators for domestic students and use components of the AQTF.
Providers in Victoria who want to deliver Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) qualifications and courses to domestic students in Victoria only or in Victoria and Western Australia, must be registered with the Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority (VRQA) and comply with the VRQA guidelines for VET providers, which requires compliance with both the AQTF essential conditions and standards for initial registration and AQTF essential conditions and standards for continuing registration.
RTOs registered with the VRQA who offer courses to overseas students or in a state other than Victoria or Western Australia fall under ASQA’s jurisdiction and must comply with the Standards for Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) 2015.
The VRQA also regulates accredited courses which comprise Victorian Crown copyright courses, courses for registered training organisations (RTOs) registered with the VRQA and for organisations or individuals who are not RTOs. The courses are accredited in accordance with the AQTF standards for accredited courses and the AQTF standards for state and territory course accrediting bodies.
Providers of nationally accredited training for domestic students in Western Australia only, or in both Western Australia and Victoria, must be registered with the Training Accreditation Council (TAC) of Western Australia. As part of the national VET reform agenda, new Standards for VET Regulators 2015 and Standards for Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) 2015 were introduced in 2015 for RTOs registered or seeking registration with TAC.
TAC is also the course accrediting body in Western Australia. Accredited Courses must be developed in accordance with the AQTF2021 Standards for Accredited Courses.