We can help with CRICOS initial registration application and all the policies and procedures that you need to operate a compliant RTO
The international education industry is one of the most rewarding and exciting industries in Australia. It also happens to be Australia’s largest service sector export industry, so welcome to your new and exciting potential journey.
We have to say from personal experience, that working with international students is a hugely rewarding and fulfilling experience, though it has its challenges and pitfalls. If you provide a high quality program, manage compliance and have a strong marketing program, you can be highly profitable. At the same time, if you are unable to maintain the standards expected in the industry, it can be quite challenging.
CRICOS Registration Process
As you may be aware, the CRICOS registration process is extremely onerous, time-consuming and expensive. Also, the regulatory authority has increased scrutiny on new applications for RTO/ CRICOS registration and introduced very stringent requirements for new entrants in the training and international education industry.
Therefore, we recommend that you carefully review the following sections, before finalising your decision to apply for CRICOS registration and using our services to help you with the process. The information in the sections below is just to help you with your initial decision making process… some of it may be daunting, but hopefully you will find it all useful…
Are you ready to set up a CRICOS registered RTO?
The regulatory body, Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) expects any applicant seeking initial registration as either a registered training organisation (RTO) or CRICOS registration to:
- be fully financially prepared to operate a sustainable training business
- have all the appropriate resources, processes and systems in place to commence delivery at the time of submitting the application
- ensure all people that will be involved in the operation of the training provider are suitable.
The following information is from the ASQA website:
Before making a decision to add CRICOS to your RTO, it is important to ask yourself the following questions:
- Why do you want to get CRICOS registration?
- Do you or your key associates have a background in international education and training? If not, will you hire appropriately qualified and/or experience to manage your international education operations. Have you factored the costs into your planning?
- Are you familiar with the compliance frameworks relevant to the international education industry? If not, will you be willing to spend time to learn about the relevant legislation and operational requirements prior to applying for CRICOS registration. It will be important that, you, as a key stakeholder are directly involved in the compliance, quality and business decisions.
- Who will be your principal executive officer (i.e the Head of your organisation who will have overall responsibility for CRICOS compliance and quality)?
- Do you have a physical site where you will teach international students? For CRICOS registration, you MUST have a site that is suitable for educational purposes already in place at the time of submitting your applicattion. The site can be leased or owned by you.
- Which courses or qualifications do you want to include in your CRICOS registration application?
- What is the maximum number of international students you want to enrol at your training site?
- Do you have sufficient physical and human resources to support your proposed number of students?
- Have you factored in the costs for these resources.
- Do you have access to sufficient funds to operate a CRICOS registered training organisation? (see the next section – ‘Are you financially viable’ for more details).
- Do you have a Business Plan for your international student program? Or will you be able to develop a comprehensive business plan with the help of your Accountant and other industry experts?
- The planning and preparation for a CRICOS application submission can take 2-4 months. Once you submit your application, ASQA may take approximately 6+ months to review your application.
- If your application is deemed to be complete and meets all the required criteria as assessed by ASQA, your RTO will get CRICOS registration . Yay!!
- However, according to ASQA’s new policies, if ASQA finds an application for initial registration to be non-compliant with the requirements of the VET Quality Framework and/or the Education Services for Overseas Students (ESOS) Framework, the application will be rejected. There will be no opportunity to rectify any areas of non-compliance. All application fees are non-refundable. Also, if you have used a Consultant or hired other staff and set up other resources, you may risk losing your investment. We are alerting you to the actual process simply to advise you of the risks and to let you know that what all this means in terms of making sure that your application is thoroughly checked for compliance and accuracy before it is submitted to ASQA. Also, it means that if you choose a Consultant, you need to make sure they have the relevant international education industry experience, qualifications and background to help you through the process.
- Are you financially prepared to take the above risks? Are you prepared for the above time-frames?
If you can answer ‘Yes’ most of the above questions, you are in a pretty good position already. Even if you are unsure, at least now you can make an informed decision and seek the relevant advice before investing your valuable money and time.
Are you financially viable?
An assessment of your financial viability is a critical part of your RTO/ CRICOS registration process. From our experience, we would suggest that before investing in anything else, including our consulting services, you should first seek advice from your Accountant.
You will need to complete a ‘Financial Viability Risk Assessment Tool’ available from the ASQA website.
Applicants must give ASQA a detailed business plan and a range of financial information and underlying assumptions including information on projections, funding sources, assets and loan arrangements, staff and student numbers.
We usually get asked the question- “How much money do I need to have to start an RTO?”
This is a very difficult question as there is no set response. There is no specific guidance on this from ASQA. So, what we are sharing below is just our personal experience from setting up our own RTO a few years ago.
In 2009 we decided to set up our own CRICOS registered RTO. The rules were quite different then, however we were still required to demonstrate financial viability. In our own case we decided to offer a very small number of Business qualifications (3 qualifications from the BSB package, plus 1 from another package). We were hoping to get 30 international students in the first year. We had personal savings of approximately $200,000, which we thought we could use as back-up, if needed. We also had a Line of Credit from a bank of approximately $400,000, which we could draw on, if we ran into trouble. We also had income from other sources to help us maintain our personal expenses. In other words, we were not financially dependent on this new RT O for our day to day living costs.
We planned our finances using a best case and worst case approach. What we worked on was whether, if we had no income, but had to cover all the set up costs and the fixed costs in the first two years, would we be able to sustain the business financially. Based on our back-up finances, we thought we would be able to sustain the business, so we deemed ourselves to be financially viable.
Like we said, the above is simply a personal example. It is not meant to advise you in any way and it must not be taken as professional advice. We do not take any liability for any general advice regarding financial viability as we are not accountants. Your accountant and you will need to consider your specific situation, your access to finances and your intended scope of operations to make an assessment of your financial viability. You need to factor in the lease costs, registration costs and the staffing costs, amongst other ongoing operational expenses.
If you are not sure about being able to meet the ‘financial viability’ requirements, we recommend that you do not proceed any further. According to the ASQA guidelines, your application will be rejected if they assess your application as not meeting the financial viability requirements.
Will you be able to develop a detailed Business Plan?
A Business Plan for an RTO intending to enrol international students should include clear information about the legal entity, the mission, vision, values and goals of the business, the organisational structure, operational framework, competitor analysis, marketing strategies and detailed financial projections.
Your Business Plan needs to be closely integrated with your Financial Viability assessment.
While we can provide a rudimentary Business Plan template as a base level guide to help you plan your business, each RTO is unique and you will need to carefully research and plan your business in accordance with your own vision and goals.
Again, your Accountant will need to be consulted to help you with your business planning. You will need to submit a comprehensive Business Plan as part of your initial registration application.
Fit and Proper Person check
When you apply for CRICOS registration, you need to complete a ‘Fit and Proper Person’ statutory declaration to state that the applicant and the person/s who own or are associated with the applicant are ‘fit and proper’ people to operate a training provider. The questions relate to criminal history, past record of associations with other training providers etc. What this really means is that the key people who will be associated with the RTO are of good character and do not have any past records that reflect negatively on their ability to manage and operate a training organisation.
Again, we recommend that you undertake a self evaluation and evaluate the past record of all the associates to ensure that everyone will be able to meet the ‘Fit and Proper Person’ requirement. If you believe you will be able to meet this requirement, read on….
What we Offer and Costs
We can help you with the entire initial CRICOS registration process, including the following:
- Initial discussion over the telephone to understand your plans
- Once there is agreement to use our services, we provide the following:
- Stage 1: Planning
- Detailed planning and consulting support to finalise the scope of your operations
- Stage 2: Preparation and lodgement of application
- Collation of all organisation related information (e.g Legal entity registration, Business Name registration, Insurance certificate ete)
- Development of customised CRICOS Policies and Procedures to comply with the ESOS legislation
- Customised CRICOS Forms development
- Ongoing consulting support and advice on operational matters
- Advice and guidance on compilation of additional materials
- Training on compliance and operational management
- Self- Assessment Checklist as required by ASQA
- Final check of all registration documents
- Submission of your initial application
- Stage 3: Audit (if Stage 2 is successful)
- Pre-audit training
- Attendance at audit to provide support
- Stage 1: Planning
IETC reserves the right to refuse to offer this service in circumstances where we believe that the client may not meet the Financial Viability Assessment or the Fit and Proper Person Assessment.
Under no circumstances, can IETC (or any other Consultant for that mater) guarantee the success of a CRICOS registration application as the decision is at the sole discretion of the regulatory authority.
- The Client is directly responsible for meeting the Financial Viability and Fit and Proper Person requirements
- The Client is directly responsible for ensuring that they have adequate training and assessment resources, staffing and approved education facilities for the qualifications and courses on its scope (we can provide templates and guidance)
- Based on our extensive industry experience and qualifications, we will endeavour to submit a comprehensive, high quality CRICOS application on behalf of our clients, however the final decision on the the outcome remains with the regulatory authority.
Our fees for the above services is AUD$30,000+ GST
+ travel expenses at cost outside Brisbane, Gold Coast or Sunshine Coast (we keep travel costs to a minimum)
Please note that we are not able to offer any discounts.
- Payment 1: 50% payment is required prior to commencement of the project- not refundable under any circumstances
- Payment 2: 40% payment prior to the submission of the completed application
- Payment 3: 5% prior to audit attendance- non-refundable
- Payment 4: 5% upon successful registration- non refundable
- Please note that Payment 1 is non-refundable under any circumstances, irrespective of the outcome of your application. It is very important that you read all the relevant information and conduct your due diligence prior to making a decision to use our services.
- Payment 2 is refundable only if the registration application is not successful SOLELY due to non-compliance identified in any documents written and supplied by us. We will need a copy of the decision received from ASQA that identifies the reasons for refusal. This amount is not refundable under any other circumstances, including the refusal of registration on any other grounds. To be clear, this payment is NOT refundable if your application is refused partially on the grounds of unsatisfactory business plan, financial viability, non-compliant premises or inadequate staffing, physical resources and financial resources. Payment 2 is only refundable if ASQA refuses the application SOLELY on the basis of non-compliance identified with documents written and supplied by IETC.
- Payment 3 and 4 are non-refundable under any circumstances.
The application preparation can take between 2 months- 4 months depending on your availability; and the availability of your team to develop the relevant materials under our instruction.
Once your application is submitted, ASQA may take approximately 6+ months to review the application
- We look forward to you contacting us to discuss your plans. We have an initial discussion over the phone.
- We can send you a detailed proposal for your project if you decide to seek our help with the registration process. You can call us anytime, day or night, if you have any questions.
- If you are happy with the proposal, we sign a service agreement.
- You make the initial payment to get the project started.
- We start Stage 1 of the project:
- We contact you to arrange a meeting to gather detailed information regarding your organisation.
- At the same time, we will also give you the relevant forms and templates so you can get started on preparing your ‘Financial Viability Assessment’ document with your Accountant, and start writing your Business Plan.
- We start Stage 2 of the project:
- We customise your policies and procedures.
- We customise your forms
- We provide training and guidance to your team to develop supporting documents.
- We provide training to the executive team to ensure that they can manage the operations and compliance
- We complete the ‘Self-Assessment’ form required by the regulatory authority (in consultation with you)
- We collate all the information to prepare for the submission of your application.
- You make the second payment.
- We submit your application.
- We start Stage 3
- We wait to get an audit date (subject to a successful written submission)
- You make the third payment
- We provide training for the audit
- We prepare the site and resources for the audit.
- We attend the audit
- Fngers crossed! The audit is successful and you get registered.
- You make the final payment
What is not included
- We cannot help you with your Financial Viability. You need a qualified Accountant
- We cannot help you to write your Business Plan, though we can provide you with a general template.
- Our cost does NOT include reviewing or developing any training and assessment materials. You must ensure that your training and assessment materials and strategies are compliant at the time of lodging your applcation.
- We cannot take responsibility for the physical, human and financial resources required for successful registration. We can provide general advice and respond to any questions that you may have.