Universities Australia supports the development of the Tertiary Education Quality & Standards Agency (TEQSA) as a single national regulator for tertiary education, based on clear, consistent and credible standards. The regulator must be able to identify and deal with significant areas of risk, protect students, and establish and assure the quality and reputation of Australian tertiary education.
TEQSA should phase in its approaches to academic standards to ensure their credibility, and align its work with related reforms, including the regulation of overseas student education and the revision of the Australian Qualifications Framework. The aim and effect should be to support the highest international standards without imposing a rules-based straitjacket.
TEQSA should adopt a risk-based approach to registration and accreditation, particularly in the first instance. All existing universities should be registered automatically while the new organisation's initial focus is on new providers and other areas where more serious problems have been in evidence. Thereafter a need for re-accreditation and ongoing quality assurance across both teaching and research for all universities is agreed - no ongoing automatic exclusion of any universities is sought.
Universities overall see themselves as benefiting in any proper risk-based approach, from their standing as major organisations which have long been subject to a full range of transparency, accountability, and quality assurance checks and balances. These range from Auditors General; Parliamentary Committees; Ombudsmen; the australian Universities Quality Agency (AUQA); student experience and graduate outcome surveys; academic unions and professional bodies; as well as from well-established internal processes over-sighted by University Councils and senior management, and through keen peer scrutiny within university decision-making structures.
Universities Australia believes that existing quality assurance mechanisms (including AUQA) should continue to operate until TEQSA is fully and properly established.
The information above summarises correspondence entered into with Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations. To read the full letter, download the PDF from the bottom of this page.