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Approval process for courses which are covered by Schedule 2 exposure draft TPB(I) D01/2010

Tax Practitioners Board Exposure Draft
Information sheet TPB(I) D01/2010

Approval process for courses which are covered by Schedule 2 of the Tax Agent Services Regulations 2009

This draft information sheet is also available as a PDF, download Information sheet TPB(I) D01/2010 Approval process for courses which are covered by Schedule 2 of the Tax Agent Services Regulations 2009 (PDF, 208KB).

The Tax Practitioners Board (Board) has released this draft TBP information (TPB(I)) as an exposure draft and invites comments and submissions in relation to the information contained in it within 60 days. The closing date for submissions is 28 February 2011 after which time the Board will consider any submissions made before settling its position, undertaking any further consultation required and finalising the draft TPB(I).

Any written submissions in relation to this exposure draft should be made by the closing date to the Secretary of the Board via email at tpbsubmissions [at] tpb.gov.au or by mail to:

Tax Practitioners Board
PO Box 9825
PENRITH NSW 2740
Disclaimer

This document is in draft form, and when finalised, will be intended as information only. It provides a brief overview of the Board’s position on the approval process for courses covered by Schedule 2 of the Tax Agent Services Regulations 2009 (TASR). While it seeks to provide practical assistance and explanation, it does not exhaust, prescribe or limit the scope of the Board’s powers provided in the Tax Agent Services Act 2009 (TASA).

In addition, please note that the principles, explanations and examples in this paper do not constitute legal advice. They are also at a preliminary stage only. The Board’s conclusions and views may change as a result of the comments the Board receives or as other circumstances change.

Document history

This draft TPB(I) was issued on 17 December 2010 and is based on the TASA, and the Tax Agent Services (Transitional Provisions and Consequential Amendments) Act 2009 as at 1 March 2010 and the TASR as at 29 October 2010.

Information regarding the approval process for courses covered by the Regulations

Introduction

  1. This draft TPB(I) sets out the preliminary views of the Tax Practitioners Board (Board) in relation its approval process for courses which are covered by Schedule 2 to the Tax Agent Services Regulations 2009 (TASR).
  2. The purpose of this TPB(I) is to assist providers other than universities or RTOs to understand the factors that the Board will consider when determining whether a provider may be approved by the Board such that the courses they provide will be capable of being considered for approval by the Board for the purposes of Schedule 2 to the TASR as part of the Board’s approval process.
  3. The approval process consists of two steps which is depicted in the diagram below:

    Approved course provider plus approved course

  1. Generally, a course will be approved by the Board where the course meets all the relevant course requirements (as identified by the Board), and where it is provided by an approved course provider.
  2. This draft TPB(I) sets out the preliminary views of the Board as to who is an approved course provider.
  3. The Board has separately issued a draft information sheet and proposed guidelines in relation to the following courses under Schedule 2 to the TASR:
    • a course in basic GST/BAS taxation principles that is approved by the Board
    • a course in commercial law that is approved by the Board (TPB(PG) 02/2010)
    • a course in Australian taxation law that is approved by the Board (TPB(PG) 03/2010), and
    • a course in basic accountancy principles that is approved by the Board (TPB(PG) 01/2010).
  1. The Board is of the preliminary view that where a course is provided by a university or registered training organisation (RTO), there are sufficient quality assurance safeguards in place to ensure that the course is provided according to appropriate professional and educational standards and also that the course provider has sufficient internal mechanisms to be sustainable.
  2. The Board recognises that universities are subject to regulatory activities currently undertaken in the states and territories and quality assurance mechanisms undertaken by the Australian Universities Quality Agency (AUQA). It is also recognised that the Australian Government is establishing a new national regulatory and quality agency for higher education, the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA). TEQSA will be established as an independent body with powers to regulate university and non-university higher education providers, monitor quality and set standards. TEQSA will register providers, carry out evaluations of standards and performance, protect and assure the quality of international education and streamline current regulatory arrangements. It will join together the regulatory activity currently undertaken in the states and territories with the quality assurance activities currently undertaken by AUQA.
  3. Similarly, the Board recognises that an RTO must agree to a declaration that binds it to operate in accordance with the Australian Quality Training Framework (AQTF) 2007, Essential Standards for Registration.
  4. To remove any doubt, this information does not discuss the particular course requirements of the courses listed in paragraph 5 above. These requirements are contained in separate proposed guidelines and draft information sheets which the Board has issued.

Background

  1. Applicants seeking registration as a BAS agent under the Tax Agent Services Act 2009 (TASA) are required, pursuant to the TASR, to have successfully completed a course in basic GST/BAS taxation principles that is approved by the Board.
  2. Applicants seeking registration as a tax agent under the TASA are generally required, pursuant to the TASR, to have successfully completed one or more of the following courses:
    • a course in commercial law that is approved by the Board
    • a course in Australian taxation law that is approved by the Board, and
    • a course in basic accountancy principles that is approved by the Board.
  1. The Board has issued a draft information sheet which outlines the Board’s interim approach to the requirements of a course in basic GST/BAS taxation principles that is approved by the Board. Similarly, the Board has issued proposed guidelines which outline the Board’s approach to the requirements of the following courses:
    • a course in commercial law that is approved by the Board (TPB(PG) 02/2010)
    • a course in Australian taxation law that is approved by the Board (TPB(PG) 03/2010), and
    • a course in basic accountancy principles that is approved by the Board (TPB(PG) 01/2010).
  1. Under Schedule 2 to the TASR, the Board has the power to approve a course by an approval process, an accreditation scheme, or by other means. The Board is of the preliminary view that its approval process involves two steps: first, the course must be provided by an approved course provider and second, the course provided must be an approved course for the purposes of Schedule 2 of the TASR.
  2. In relation to who may qualify as an approved course provider, the Board is of the preliminary view that a key objective in relation to the approval of courses is to ensure that there is a high quality of education, training and assessment consistent with that required of universities and RTOs who are subject to established quality assurance frameworks which govern the range of courses which they offer. This is to assure the Board that applicants seeking registration as a BAS agent or tax agent have learned or acquired the relevant content or skills or both in a course from a provider that has appropriate quality assurance frameworks in place relating to the provision of the courses which they offer.
  3. To assist course providers who are not universities or RTOs, the Board has developed a set of conditions and standards that must be met to the satisfaction of the Board before it is in a position to consider whether courses offered by such providers will be considered for approval for the purposes of Schedule 2 of the TASR.
  4. In articulating these conditions and standards, the Board has had regard to best practice standards including the AQTF Essential Standards for Initial Registration.
  5. The range of possible approved course providers may be summarised as follows:

    Approved course providers - Universities, registered training organisations and other providers who satisfy the Board's conditions and standards

Proposed conditions and standards

  1. The Board is of the preliminary view that course providers other than universities or RTOs who are seeking to provide an approved course for the purpose of Schedule 2 to the TASR must meet minimum conditions and standards in relation to all of the following four areas:
    1. Trainers and assessors
    2. Administrative functions
    3. Course requirements, and
    4. Management systems.
  1. Proposed course providers will need to provide a submission to the Board addressing all of the conditions and standards (which are detailed below) relating to each of these four areas to enable the Board to consider whether they qualify as an approved course provider under the Board’s approval process.
  2. Submissions will need to include a certification from an appropriately qualified and independent person that all of the conditions and standards as detailed in this TPB(I) are satisfied. Such persons could include, but need not be limited to, leading academics in the relevant area. For example, if the course provider intends submitting an application in relation to an approved course in Australian taxation law, then a Professor in that relevant discipline would be an appropriate certifier.
  3. Any costs relating to procuring and providing a certification will be the sole responsibility of the applicant.
  4. The Board will require a periodic review of each approved course provider to ensure that they are continuing to meet all of the conditions and standards detailed below. The Board is of the preliminary view that this periodic review will occur every three years from when a course provider first gains recognition as an approved course provider under the Board’s approval process.
  5. An approved course provider must comply with the Board’s requests in relation to any periodic review of the course provider.
  6. Any costs relating to the periodic review of an approved course provider will be the sole responsibility of the course provider.
  7. Notwithstanding the above, an approved course provider must, as soon as practicable, notify the Board if there is any material change to any of the conditions and standards in relation to the course provider, and also to any faculty or department to which the course provider belongs.
  8. The minimum conditions and standards set out in this document are subject to change at the discretion of the Board.

A. Trainers and assessors

A1 The proposed course provider must at all times have a sufficient number of qualified teachers, trainers and assessors to deliver the relevant course(s).

A2 The proposed course provider must ensure that all teachers, trainers and assessors of the relevant course:

  • hold the necessary educational and experience qualifications necessary to carry out the education, training and assessment
  • have a suitable level of demonstrated experience and current industry skills to deliver the course effectively, and
  • continue to develop their educational training knowledge and skills as well their industry knowledge, and can demonstrate this.

A3 The proposed course provider must have procedures in place for conducting the assessment of the relevant course, including recognition of prior learning (RPL).

A4 The proposed course provider must have procedures in place for monitoring the delivery of education, training and assessment.

A5 The proposed course provider must have strategies in place for the review and enhancement of education, training and assessment processes. These strategies should be developed with reference to the Board’s relevant course requirements and the tax agent services industry.

B. Administrative functions

B1 The proposed course provider must have defined procedures to manage the administrative functions of the business.

B2 The proposed course provider must have strategies for the continuous improvement of its administrative functions.

B3 The proposed course provider must have an adequate student record system, including unique student identifiers.

B4 The proposed course provider must have procedures in place to ensure that students have access to their personal records.

B5 The proposed course provider must have adequate procedures for the retention, archiving, retrieval and transfer of records which maintains their accuracy and integrity. Student records of attainment must be retained for a period of 30 years.

B6 The proposed course provider must inform students of their rights and obligations, and outline its commitments to the student in relation to the relevant course.

B7 The proposed course provider must have adequate procedures for dealing with, and resolving, complaints and appeals.

B8 The proposed course provider must have procedures dealing with issues of academic misconduct (eg plagiarism).

C. Course requirements

C1 The proposed course provider must ensure that relevant courses provided adhere to the Board’s specific requirements in relation to, among other things, content, competencies and assessment. For further information about the Board’s specific requirements in relation to particular courses for the purposes of Schedule 2 of the TASR, please visit the Board’s website at www.tpb.gov.au

C2 The proposed course provider must identify how a student’s successful completion of a course will be acknowledged. For example, this may be by a qualification, certificate or statement of attainment.

C3 The proposed course provider must be capable of efficiently managing and implementing any future changes to course requirements, including those relating to, among other things, content, competencies and assessment. To satisfy this requirement, the proposed course provider must be able to demonstrate to the satisfaction of the Board that it has quality assurance mechanisms in place that govern curriculum review and development – ie, what processes are in place and what mechanisms govern this process.

C4 The proposed course provider will be required to demonstrate that it undertakes periodic course reviews – eg, annual and comprehensive course reviews including details of who undertakes them.

C5 The proposed course provider must have developed processes to seek student and client feedback with a view to the continuous improvement of course delivery.

C6 The proposed course provider must have developed mechanisms to ensure that the educational, assessment and support requirements of students are capable of being met.

C7 The proposed course provider must ensure that students are provided with appropriate materials, equipment and trainers.

D. Management systems

D1 The proposed course provider must have a developed business plan.

D2 The proposed course provider must remain financially viable and deliver quality education, training and assessment. To substantiate this, the proposed course provider should provide an independent assessment of its financial viability risk, including independent evidence of its financial records being audited as part of its submission to the Board.

D3 The proposed course provider must provide fee information to students in a clear and transparent manner.

D4 The proposed course provider must be able to demonstrate that decision making of management is undertaken with reference to the experience of its teachers, trainers and assessors.

D5 The proposed course provider must advise the Board of significant changes to its operations or ownership or both.

D6 The proposed course provider must hold insurance for public liability.

D7 The proposed course provider must comply with relevant Commonwealth, State and Territory legislation.

D8 The proposed course provider must maintain knowledge of educational, training and industry developments relevant to the courses it provides.