Regulation and accreditation
Australian universities operate under a framework of Government laws and regulation.
This includes laws that govern Government funding, student loans and reporting requirements. The national regulator, TEQSA, also provides quality assurance for the sector.
These laws help guarantee the high standard of education and research in all Australian universities.
The higher education support act 2003
The legislative framework for the higher education sector is provided by the Higher Education Support Act 2003 (HESA).
HESA deals with:
- approval of higher education providers;
- Government funding;
- student loans; and
- administration and reporting.
More information on HESA—and regulations that the Minister makes under HESA—is available here.
The national regulator for the higher education sector is the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA). TEQSA registers higher education providers—including universities—and re-registers them every seven years.
More information about TEQSA is available here.
TEQSA regulates higher education providers against a set of threshold standards. The standards are available here.
Principles for Professional Accreditation
In a number of discipline areas, graduates’ employment in a given field depends on accreditation by a professional association.
Professional associations work in partnership with the higher education sector to ensure quality professional education and a professional standard.
In 2016, Universities Australia signed a Joint Statement of Principles for Professional Accreditation with Professions Australia, which represents 18 peak professional organisations including CPA Australia, Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand, Engineers Australia, the Australian Computer Society and the Australian Dental Association (click here for a full list of members).
These principles have been designed to streamline and improve consistency in the professional accreditation of university courses.
- encourage national consistency of the professional accreditation standards and processes at the discipline level, including between States/Territories and between individual accreditation panels, and consistency at the level of principle in a discipline’s requirements;
- are widely applicable and inclusive to reflect the diversity in educational design and delivery, in university quality processes and structures and the different context and quality processes of the professional associations and professional accreditation bodies; and
- ensure that professional accreditation processes operate in a transparent, accountable, efficient, effective and fair way.
All universities are strongly encouraged to use the principles in their dealings with accreditation processes run by Professions Australia members, and are invited to use them as the basis of negotiation with accreditation processes run by other bodies.
Universities Australia and Professions Australia are developing detailed implementation guidelines, including such areas as conflicts of interest and dispute resolution. This page will be updated as this material is available.
In 2020, UA joined with the Australian Council of Professions, the Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia (ITECA), Independent Higher Education Australia (IHEA) and the Australian Collaborative Education Network (ACEN) to release a joint statement of principles on managing the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on professional accreditation. The statement commits signatories to work together to adapt higher education courses and registration/accreditation to mitigate the impact of the pandemic while upholding the reputation, integrity and continuity of professional education and qualifications.
UA Academic Integrity Best Practice Principles
Universities are built on inspiring free thought and encouraging intellectual debate and exchange of ideas – academic freedom. With this freedom comes an equally compelling responsibility to uphold academic integrity – honest endeavour, ownership of work and acknowledgement of prior thoughts, ideas, data and research.
Universities Australia’s vision is to “support a sustainable national university system characterised by inherent quality, accessibility, innovation and high performance that affirms Australia as a world-leading nation.” Assisting our member universities to foster academic integrity and minimise breaches is core business for the organisation.
The principles outlined in this document have been endorsed by Universities Australia’s members for the purpose of informing institutional policy and practice on strengthening the academic integrity of students.