Registered training organisation

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A registered training organisation (RTO) in Australia, is a vocational education organisation that provides students with training that results in qualifications and statements of attainment that are recognised and accepted by industry and other educational institutions throughout Australia.

Registered training organisations can be State and Territory government or privately owned training organisations. All registered training organisations in Australia and the qualifications they are registered to deliver are listed on Training.gov.au, which replaced National Training Information Service (NTIS) in 2011.

To become a registered training organisation, an organisation must apply to the State and Territory Registering/Course Accrediting Body (R/CAB) in which their home office is located or the State or Territory in which most of their training is delivered.

To become registered to deliver vocational education and training in Australia and deliver Australian qualifications overseas, the training organisation must:

  1. Have legal access to, or own, an Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) qualification or nationally recognised short course, and
  2. Meet the training delivery requirements of the Australian Quality Training Framework (AQTF).

The first versions of the AQTF had set twelve standards. They formed the 'ground rules' and details of the quality systems that must be established before any organisation could operate as a registered training organisation. These standards were approved by federal, state and territory ministers on 8 June 2001 and nationally reviewed in 2004 and 2005.

On 1 July 2007 the AQTF 2007 changes came into effect to reduce the regulatory burdens and to streamline and standardise audit processes for national consistency. The original twelve standards have become three standards and nine conditions of registration. The focus of audits are shifting towards an outcomes based model, away from the traditional evidence and processes based model. A set of Excellence Criteria for RTOs, a voluntary audit process, is also being developed which will enable high-performing RTOs to market themselves as 'quality committed' or 'outstanding'.

To be approved for registration, and to maintain national registration, organisations need documentary evidence of how their training organisation is meeting the AQTF standards and how they are continually improving their training delivery systems. The focus on continual improvement is expected to assist RTOs to adapt quickly to changing external environments such as economic factors and skills needs.

Audits form an important part of improving the quality and integrity of vocational education and training. They are carried out by auditors contracted by, or employees of, the relevant State and Territory Registering/Course Accrediting Body. During the course of registration, organisations are monitored to ensure that they are continuously meeting the Australian Quality Training Framework standards.

On 1 July 2010 the AQTF 2010 came into effect to provide more guidance on compliance and greater protection for students. Most notably, the changes saw the requirement for institutions accepting student fees paid in advance to held these funds in trust till the delivery of learning, and the mandating of a suitably constituted academic advisory board to ensure institutions decision making is adequately influenced by the learning and assessment process and not just economic rationale.

Organisational Learning Australia has described some of the political and State verses Federal dynamics effecting RTO regulators in Australia since November 2009.

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