Mass course audits jeopardise TAFE starts
A TAFE SA training scandal could mean delays to the start of hundreds of courses as the state government organisation insists on internal and external audits of what is being taught in more than 1300 programs to 70,000 students.
TAFE SA is reeling from significant reputational damage after 14 randomly selected courses last year failed spot checks by the Australian Skills Quality Authority, with four of the courses being discontinued and 10 facing suspension pending an appeal.
The Weekend Australian understands the organisation’s remaining executive members are insisting on internal and external audits of every course offered by TAFE SA amid concerns more may fail random checks by the national regulator.
TAFE SA interim chief executive Alex Reid said a “new quality framework is now being applied to all of our courses to ensure they are up to the standards we expect”.
“This includes internal and external audits,” he said.
But Mr Reid refused to directly answer how many courses had already been cleared and how many were yet to go through the process. He said more than 5000 “units of competence” would be reviewed.
Sources within TAFE SA said the pre-emptive tactic was seen internally as essential despite the risk of disruption to staff and students as the embattled institution could not survive the fallout of another adverse finding by ASQA.
“We have been told every course will be audited,” a senior lecturer said.
TAFE SA chairman Peter Vaughan has been removed and chief executive Robin Murt has resigned in the wake of the train- ing scandal, which emerged after The Weekend Australian revealed a Civil Aviation Safety Authority audit had determined TAFE SA’s aircraft maintenance course failed to meet training and assessment standards.
While applications for first semester courses at TAFE SA this year fell by more than 4 per cent, the public training provider made almost 9000 offers after working with unsuccessful applicants to “change their preferences to a more suitable course”.
Classes are due to start from January 29. There have been 744 offers made in five of the courses affected by the audit, but the regulator has refused to give TAFE SA a guarantee that students enrolling in courses facing sanctions can complete their studies.
Opposition education spokesman John Gardner accused the Weatherill government of failing students. “We’ve already seen significant impacts on students, and the effects of this scandal will be felt across our economy.”
Education Minister Susan Close insisted students were supported, “with minimal disruption to their studies”.
‘A new quality framework is now being applied to ensure they are up to the standards we expect’ ALEX REID TAFE SA INTERIM CEO