Guilty verdict reinforces importance of transparency for third-party RTO agreements

The Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) welcomes the verdict and fine issued today to an entity for breaching the National Vocational Education and Training Regulator Act.

Following a guilty plea, the Downing Centre Local Court convicted and fined Qualify Me! Pty Ltd $20,000 for advertising 187 vocational education and training courses in 2022, through recognition of prior learning, without including the name and registration code of the registered training organisation (RTO) that would issue a VET qualification or statement of attainment relating to the course. This breached Section 123A of the NVETR Act.

ASQA CEO Saxon Rice said the successful prosecution should serve as a warning over third-party arrangements RTOs may enter into with entities such as Qualify Me! Pty Ltd, which are not RTOs but may advertise VET courses on their behalf.

“These third-party organisations must accurately and honestly represent those courses in all marketing and enrolment activities – to ensure students’ best interests are protected and they can make an informed choice,” Ms Rice said.

“Where they don’t, as the national regulator for vocational education and training we won’t hesitate in taking strong and decisive action.

“We are doubly concerned where this type of behaviour applies to recognition of prior learning, as students who do not acquire the necessary competency or knowledge and gain qualifications via this method pose an increased risk to themselves and others in the workplace.”

Under amendments now in force to the National Vocational Education and Training Regulator Act, penalties for breaches of this section of the act have increased five-fold, to deter entities that see these penalties as a cost of doing business.

ASQA continues to investigate Qualify Me! Pty Ltd, now trading as ASQANET Pty Ltd. The conviction today followed previous warnings, infringements and prosecutions to this organisation.

Since it launched in October 2023, ASQA’s VET tip-off line has received more than 1,000 tip-offs. It has provided actionable intelligence for further regulatory or compliance activities and given current and former students, staff and other potential whistleblowers the opportunity to report, anonymously if they wish, alleged illegal and serious non-compliance activity.

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