The Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Jobs and Workplace Relations, Senator the Hon Christopher Evans has today released for public comment the exposure draft of the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) legislation. In doing so he has also advised that the legislation will be subject to a Senate inquiry.
Universities Australia has issued a public statement articulating its position regarding this legislation.
In its statement, Universities Australia welcomes this public release, noting that these actions affirm the Government's commitment to a staged and considered approach to ensure an effective transition to new arrangements under the TEQSA framework.
Universities Australia Chair, Professor Coaldrake said, "This is complex legislation of national importance, and it is vital that the focus be on getting it right".
"A group of Universities Australia representatives have been engaged, over the last three months, in regular and intensive discussions with the Commonwealth regarding this legislation".
The statement expresses Universities Australia's support for the establishment of TEQSA as a national regulatory body that will assist in projecting the quality, strength and integrity of the Australian higher education system at home and abroad. To ensure this, Universities Australia supports the national regulator "having teeth", including the power of de-registration.
While the proposed legislation is seen as being sound and workable, the statement does however specify that Universities Australia's position remains subject to two very important caveats: first and foremost, the issue of self-accreditation, and secondly, the need to address with certainty other complex transitional provisions requiring clarification and possible amendment.
Self-accreditation refers to academic autonomy in relation to courses and degree content. Self-accreditation is a central characteristic of true universities around the world in their role as long-standing independent centres of knowledge and learning. This in turn underpins distinctive public benefits for our society. At present, reflection of this in the Bill is indirect and uncertain.
Professor Coaldrake concluded, "TEQSA's success requires a framework that further supports the contribution of universities to national objectives. We will continue to work with the Government to address these issues".
Universities Australia's statement may be accessed at www.universitiesaustralia.edu.au/TEQSA
- ends -