Question: TAFE SA ASQA Audit


Mr GARDNER (Morialta) (15:44): My question is to the Minister for Higher Education and Skills. Is the minister now able to advise the house how many TAFE students were notified that their own course is affected by the ASQA audit and, in particular, how many were studying the individual units of competency that are being called into question?

The Hon. S.E. CLOSE (Port Adelaide—Minister for Education and Child Development, Minister for Higher Education and Skills) (15:44): Yes, a figure has been arrived at and agreed through the double audit process that is occurring within TAFE SA at present in its approach to responding to ASQA next week. The figure that they have now determined within the catchment of the number of students who might be affected is just under 1,700 students.

Having reached that conclusion, TAFE is now going through a process of contacting all students, those who no longer need to pay further attention and those 1,700 who do need to be aware that they remain involved, and also any employers who may be involved with those students in the case of apprentices and trainees. I anticipate, as we move towards the response next week and then the ASQA response beyond, that we will have a much finer grained position on how many students are indeed part of the remedial action.

Mr GARDNER (Morialta) (15:45): Supplementary: is the minister therefore confident that the other 800 students caught up in those courses have no threat to their qualifications?

The Hon. S.E. CLOSE (Port Adelaide—Minister for Education and Child Development, Minister for Higher Education and Skills) (15:45): That's absolutely the advice that has been given to me by TAFE.

Mr GARDNER (Morialta) (15:45): Supplementary: in relation to those other 1,700 students who are doing the units of competency that are in question, the minister on Tuesday said that there was remedial action that was being contemplated for those students. What is that remedial action contemplated, at what cost and is any compensation contemplated for the affected students?

The Hon. S.E. CLOSE (Port Adelaide—Minister for Education and Child Development, Minister for Higher Education and Skills) (15:46): It is slightly too early to give a comprehensive answer to that question but, to enlighten the house, when I talk about remedial action I can give a couple of examples. It may be that a student who is undertaking a unit of competency has not yet learnt something that they ought to learn and that will now occur. It may be that a student has completed a unit of competency and is still enrolled in the qualification but that, in being assessed on that unit of competency they have completed, they were not fully assessed on all the requirements and that will now take place.

In terms of the other elements of the question, we will have to await the work-through with ASQA, but, as I have said from the start, TAFE will be a model litigant should that approach ever become necessary.

Mr GARDNER (Morialta) (15:46): Supplementary: is the minister now in a position to provide the house with the KPIs the TAFE board is using to determine whether the CEO and senior executives will cumulatively receive hundreds of thousands of dollars in bonuses?

The Hon. S.E. CLOSE (Port Adelaide—Minister for Education and Child Development, Minister for Higher Education and Skills) (15:47): I took that on notice two days ago, but in so doing—and I am not in a position to provide an update to the house today—I made it very clear that the concerns raised through this ASQA report, as yet an uncompleted process but the initial audit, will absolutely be part of what is taken into account by the board, and I have had that assurance from the chair of the board.