Preparing for an RTO audit can often feel quite overwhelming. If it’s your first time, you may not know where to start so here’s some information for you to consider:
RTO audits – Lets get it right the first time
An integral part of the process of becoming an RTO and maintaining registration is participation in audits. The following information has been compiled to assist you and your organisation to prepare for an audit against the Standards for RTOs 2015.
Who will conduct the audit?
On the day of the site visit you may have an audit team that consists of a single lead Auditor, one or more Auditors and/or a Technical Advisor. Observers may also attend audits to ensure that correct audit processes are being followed. If an observer is required to attend your audit, you will receive a request seeking your consent from the Regulation Officer.
What will be the focus of the audit?
The focus of an audit is on the outcomes achieved by the RTO. Auditors will evaluate what the RTO has achieved against the Standards for RTOs and quality indicators based on evidence provided by the RTO. Evidence takes many forms and auditors will consider a range of evidence to determine if an RTO has met its required outcomes.
There is no one template or a “must do” checklist for RTOs to follow. RTOs are responsible for providing evidence and for the form that the evidence takes. Evidence will vary depending on the size and scope of operations and the context in which the RTO operates.
Where possible other audits may be integrated to minimise disruption to your organisation. An example is where an RTO has a monitoring audit scheduled and is also applying to amend its scope of registration. If it is determined that an audit is required for the amendment application, it may be possible to conduct the two audits concurrently.
What will happen during a site audit?
The audit will commence with an opening meeting that the auditor will conduct with senior staff of the organisation to outline the process.
During the audit, the auditor will talk with relevant staff, learners and end user clients such as employers, and review evidence to determine the extent to which the organisation is achieving quality training and assessment outcomes in line with the Standards for RTOs and the operating context of the RTO. The audit may also identify opportunities to improve on these outcomes.
For an initial registration, the auditor will only look for evidence that required systems are in place the íntent and preparedness’of your RTO.
The auditor will report the audit findings and will take notes in some form during the audit to assist them with providing you with an accurate audit report.
The audit will conclude with a closing meeting which provides the auditor with an opportunity to provide a preliminary overview of their findings and the RTO with an opportunity to make any comment on the audit.
Why is your organisation being audited?
Audits are conducted when training organisations first apply for registration, within the first 24 months of registration for new RTOs and subsequently on an assessment basis during the registration period.
The extent to which each RTO is monitored and audited by the registering body throughout its registration period is based on an assessment of risk to the quality of training and assessment outcomes and the national VET system. ‘
RTO: I have just received notice of my audit date. What are the first steps I should take to begin preparing for the audit?
Ideally, you should have been preparing for your audit for some time. Generally, a good place to start is to conduct an internal audit against the standards you are being audited on (if you haven’t already done so) to make sure that you have the evidence required, available for the audit.
The scope of the audit (the standards on which you will be audited) depends on the type of audit you are having.
If it is an initial registration audit (to become an RTO) then you should expect to be audited on all the standards and to have to demonstrate your ability to comply with the VET Quality Framework or the Australian Quality Training Framework (whichever is applicable). In Victoria and if you are registering with the VRQA, then you will also need to demonstrate compliance with the VRQA Guidelines for VET Providers.
If you are having a re-registration audit, usually you will be audited on most standards but it depends on the level of risk assigned to your RTO by the registering body. Some of the standards may not be audited in a re-registration audit, but prepare as if you were being audited on everything.
If you are having an audit for extension to scope, the audit scope will usually be much smaller. An extension to scope audit usually focuses on the details surrounding the course you are wishing to add to scope. That means that you should have everything ready particular to the course you are adding such as the training and assessment strategies and materials, staff, pre-enrolment information, and industry consultation records. Sometimes you may also be audited against some areas of operation that are not purely about course delivery such as continuous improvement, national recognition, marketing, client services or transition of training packages and accredited courses.
RTO: What should I check for when I do an internal audit?
The purpose of this process is to help you think about how you comply with each standard (or guideline) and to gather the evidence that you have to demonstrate compliance. This means you should go through each of the standards and/or guidelines and make a list of the evidence that shows how you meet the standard. You may also like to write down a summary of how you comply so you have it ready for the auditor. Sometimes, it can be useful to print folders for each standard so that it is easily accessible during the audit. Remember when you go through this process to take a critical eye. Read each standard again, make sure you understand what it is requiring and consider the evidence you have. Does the evidence you have clearly demonstrate compliance with the standard?
RTO: What sort of documents should I have available?
You need to have all the documents and records available at audit that demonstrate how your organisation complies with the standards. For initial or re-registration audits, a sampling approach is usually taken to the qualifications, course and units of competency you have on scope. However, usually you do not know prior to the audit day, which qualifications or courses will be focused on so you need to make sure you have everything ready for all your programs.
For each program you should have:
- A Training and Assessment Strategy
- Industry Consultation records
- Trainer/Assessor files with signed resumes, certified qualifications and skills matrices. Your skills matrices should demonstrate vocational competency against each unit, going to at least element level.
- Pre-enrolment information which may include a student brochures or handbook plus detailed information about the course to allow a person to make an informed decision about enrolment into the program
- A validation and moderation schedule that clearly shows when each unit will be moderated and validated and by whom
- Training and assessment materials including relevant delivery plans, learner guides, assessment tasks, recording tools, benchmarking guides and mapping.
- An approach to identifying and supporting language, literacy and numeracy requirements of students.
You should also have:
- Detailed RTO Policies and procedures that comply with the standards along with relevant forms and systems in place. If you are an existing RTO, the auditor will want to see that your records demonstrate that you operate in accordance with your own policies and procedures.
- An AVETMISS-compliant student management system. If you are an existing RTO, you will need to demonstrate that students are entered correctly onto the database.
- Compliant qualifications, statements of attainment and records of results.
- Record management systems which may include clear guidelines that are followed on maintaining physical student and staff files, an approach to electronic file and record management that is followed, version control etc.
- An approach to identifying the needs of your learners.
- Evidence of collecting and reporting quality indicator data.
Remember the above list is not exhaustive and you should go back to the standards to check that you have everything to demonstrate compliance.