ASQA vs NEAS – Who are they?

 What is the role of ASQA?

Colleges that only provide ELICOS courses or that only have VET in addition to ELICOS need approval by ASQA (a federal government agency) to run ELICOS courses for overseas students. This also involves registration on CRICOS: this registration is required for any institution or course that will allow students to study on a student visa. A summary of the process is:

  1. Prepare and submit an application. This involves writing curriculum documents for each course, including a detailed syllabus for each level. Some policies and procedures and other evidence also have to be submitted at this point, while others may be looked at during later stages. A key person you will need to recruit at this stage is an Academic Manager (sometimes known as a Director of Studies), with experience in teaching and managing within English Language teaching organisations, ideally ELICOS, plus related postgraduate qualifications.
  2. Desk audit. The application will be checked at one of the ASQA offices.
  3. Site audit. If the desk audit is passed, in most cases auditors will visit your premises. Expect at least a day of interviews of key staff, document checks, tours of premises etc. Your Academic Manager will be key to this.
  4. ASQA make a decision. If the decision is positive, a further process should result in being granted a CRICOS number.
  5. Student recruitment can begin once a CRICOS number has been obtained.

Importantly, be aware that the audit process is a check that you are ready to operate. In other words, the auditors need to see that you have everything you need to run your courses: lease or ownership of premises, fitout, furniture, books, computers, management personnel, policies, procedures, handbooks and CVs of teachers and so on all need to be in place at this point, before approval can be given and before students can be recruited.

For ELICOS applications, ASQA will audit against the ELICOS National Standards as well as CRICOS requirements including the ESOS Act and National Code. Note that ELICOS colleges are not expected to comply with the RTO standards, even if associated with and on the premises of an RTO.

What is the role of NEAS?

NEAS is quality assurance body. Many ELICOS colleges are also members of NEAS. Benefits include:

  • Marketing: agents tend to send higher value students to colleges with evidence of better quality, and NEAS membership is part of this. Potential students are likely to have greater confidence in NEAS members than otherwise.
  • Compliance: ASQA tend to give NEAS members a better risk rating, and auditors often have more confidence that the college is compliant and of good quality, due to the regular NEAS checks. This may lead to fewer and smoother audits.
  • Quality: NEAS provides helpful feedback which can be used to improve operations. Also, many of the better teachers prefer to work at NEAS member colleges as it’s better for their career and CV.

The NEAS process involves an initial audit (similar to ASQA’s, but against the NEAS Quality Principles), and feedback from stakeholders such as focus groups and surveys. Unlike ASQA, the emphasis is on positive feedback and helping the college improve, and the approach is friendly. Applying for NEAS membership is recommended for most ELICOS colleges.

NEAS was originally a registration body that state governments delegated the audit process to, but since ASQA and TEQSA were established, has moved to a quality assurance role.

Our role

If you have any questions about the above, please feel free to contact us on 0403 791 238 (David) or

We can also help you prepare an application for NEAS Quality Assurance and/or for CRICOS.


David Hill, proprietor of ELT Support Services, is now a member of the NEAS Advisory Council and a NEAS assessor. However, the advice above is still the same as was previously provided.