Neas confirms long-term role
July 31, 2012
The Acting Chair of Australia’s National ELT Accreditation Scheme (Neas), Robin Simpson, has issued an open letter to stakeholders confirming that the organisation will continue to provide services and is seeking to have its accreditation more formally recognised.
The statement follows the government’s recent decision to hand a regulatory role for some Elicos providers to Teqsa (the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency) rather than Asqa (the Australian Skills Quality Authority), which has been the Elicos regulator for most of Australia since July 2011. An article last week in The Australian suggested that Neas had been sidelined by the move.
In the letter, Simpson welcomed support expressed by industry bodies English Australia, Acpet and the International Education Association of Australia in the reports. “However, contrary to a possible conclusion from this article that Neas may be about to disappear, the Board would like to assure all stakeholders that Neas is most definitely still in the mix and planning long-term,” he said.
The industry was surprised to learn recently that many Elicos providers will now fall under the supervision of Teqsa. While stand-alone Elicos providers will continue to be regulated by Asqa, providers that have pathway arrangements with at least one higher education provider will be regulated by Teqsa.
Simpson confirmed that the organisation had meetings scheduled with Asqa and Teqsa over the coming week. “Neas will continue to seek to have its accreditation more formally recognised by Asqa and Teqsa since it exceeds minimum requirement and logically should streamline the process, providing benefits and economies for both providers and these bodies.” Neas has already signed a contract with Asqa to provide auditing services. Asqa has also indicated that Neas accreditation would be viewed positively in the assessment of risk. Teqsa has not yet confirmed if there will be any formal relationship with Neas.
Simpson also highlighted the continuing commercial value of Neas accreditation. “There is also potentially the opportunity for providers to gain market advantage over those providers who see quality as less of an imperative; providers with the Neas logo clearly demonstrate a higher level of quality than those without.
“Sooner rather than later, Neas will transition from a quality assurance organisation intimately connected with registration, as was the case in New South Wales in particular, to a quality assurance organisation that assists with registration and continues to be a leading global ELT accreditation and quality assurance body,” Simpson continued. He also confirmed that the current Neas standards review was an on-going process and that charges would be reviewed once the regulatory costs had become clearer.
English Australia Executive Director, Sue Blundell, said the move away from accreditation processes that are ELT specific had the potential to drive down quality standards in the sector and that government registration schemes could become just a license to operate. “Students and agents will be well advised to look for additional quality assurance mechanisms that are ELT specific and rigorous and that will provide better guarantees of quality.”