Education Facilities – Compliance and Profitability
by Chris Green, c2cglobal

In the Education space both Public or Independent, Domestic or International, there is a huge compliance requirement and one area there is often a lot of confusion is the compliance requirements for education facilities for both the CRICOS and RTO sectors.

Vivacity invited Chris Green from C2C Global, who specialises in 9b and building compliance requirements specifically for the education sector in Australia, to be our guest writer for this months Vivacity Update providing clarification on this sometimes confusing requirement.

The compliance requirements for premises fall under the National Construction Code (NCC) and the Building Code of Australia (BCA) and are driven by the Australian Standards (AS/NZ). These are Federal requirements and cover all of Australia. Each State or Territory then has its own legislation that these requirements are applied through via the local Councils and/or Principle Certifying Authority (PCA) often referred to as  Private Certifier’s, Building Surveyors etc.

Achieving compliance for your new or existing premises is a 2 step process, first being “approval” which is usually done by Council and then “compliance and certification”  which can either be done by Council or a private PCA.

The first step is to confirm that Education and/or Training is a “Permissable Use” under the Councils Local Environmental Plan (LEP) and the Development Control Plan (DCP). This is done via an application to council such as a Development Application (DA) or a Planning Permit (PP) depending on what State you are in.

Depending on the Council this process can take 3-4 months plus and once you have the successful approval back, it will confirm that education and/or training is approved and you now move to the next stage which is compliance and certification.

The council approval will be conditional on the new premises complying with the NCC and BCA and under the code, Class 9b is the Building Classification that an education provider operates from and is achieved through a Construction Certificate in NSW. This certificate is provided by the PCA and is what you will require before you can start to build the new campus fitout and the PCA ensures the new works all comply with the BCA and AS/NZ.

Once the works are completed, the PCA will inspect the works and confirm they have been installed to comply and in NSW will then issue an Occupation Certificate (OC) which will confirm the campus is Class 9b compliant so you are good to go!

The reason for this change of use and building classification is that under the code, it is permissable for education premises to have significantly higher occupation numbers and this makes sure that the facilities can provide the comfort and safety of all the occupants incase of a emergency event.

It is important to note that under the Code, there is no difference between an International or a Domestic campus, it’s a campus so the Education approval and Class 9b certification applies to both International and Domestic alike.

Also, AQSA or TEQSA may be the regulators for the RTO and HE sectors however, it is the local councils and the PCA’s that regulate the BCA and AS/NZ so just because ASQA or TEQSA don’t directly ask for a Class 9b OC, you are still required to have one to operate legally as an education provide from your premies’s.

Something to be mindful of when selecting a new campus is under the BCA, there are 6 elements of the building that will impact on the numbers that can supported under the code and only one of them is the actual size of the space.

It is very common for providers to have the space for more students however, one or more of these elements will restrict the student numbers which can have a significant impact on the revenue that can be generated form the campus which can make a premises unviable based on fixed lease and fitout costs or require extra space be taken on a lot sooner which adds to costs and risk.

The good news is this is not always the case and one of the specialties of c2cglobal is working with provides to unlock the unused potential of their existing campus and provide 30%-40% plus extra occupancy numbers within the same floor plate and fixed lease costs.

This process also reduces the need for extra space so you are not taking on extra space and/or moving the whole campus thus avoiding the extra lease costs and extra fitout cost which are a major overhead in setting up a new campus.

It also reduces your growth risk and if there is a down turn in the sector, you are not left holding the cost of the extra space which can place a significant strain on any companies finances.

If you would like to know more about c2cglobal and the services they provide, please contact the team at c2c on  +61 2 9906 6523 or email c2c@c2cglobal.com.au. You can also visit c2cglobal’s website by going to: https://c2cglobal.com.au/

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