Quality and Legislative Frameworks

For: 

The Government supports a number of programmes that enhance and reward the quality and reputation of higher education in Australia.

Review of the Impact of the TEQSA Act on the higher education sector

The Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) is Australia’s national regulatory body.  It was established in July 2011 and began its regulatory function from 29 January 2012. Section 203 of the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency Act 2011 requires that the Minister must, before 1 January 2016, cause a review to be started of the impact on the higher education sector of the TEQSA Act. On 12 December 2015 the Minister determined the terms of reference and indicated his agreement to the Higher Education Standards Panel overseeing the review.

Review of the Impact of the TEQSA Act on the higher education sector

Terms of Reference

The review will assess the impact on the higher education sector of the TEQSA Act by examining:

  1. what has changed for the sector in moving to a single national regulatory framework from multiple state- and territory-specific arrangements

  2. the extent to which the TEQSA Act has contributed to improved quality in the delivery of higher education

  3. the extent to which the TEQSA Act has contributed to improved regulation

  4. whether there is unnecessary overlap with other legislation, for example, the Education Services for Overseas Students Act 2000, the National Vocational Education and Training Regulator Act 2011 and the Higher Education Support Act 2003

  5. whether there are amendments to the TEQSA Act or other changes that would enhance the Act’s impact or its administration

  6. whether the required functions of the Higher Education Standards Panel are adequately reflected in the TEQSA Act.

Quality Regulation in Higher Education

Australia has a strong quality assurance framework which protects the quality of Australian higher education.

The Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) is Australia’s independent national higher education regulator. TEQSA assures the quality of Australia’s large, diverse and complex higher education sector by registering and evaluating the performance of higher education providers, including universities, against the Higher Education Frameworks.

The Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) is the national policy for regulated qualifications in Australian education and training.  The AQF incorporates the qualifications from each education and training sector into a single comprehensive national qualifications framework.

The Department of Education and Training also manages the guidelines for the presentation, content, issuing and authentication of the Australian Higher Education Graduation Statement (AHEGS) and the guidelines for individuals or groups wanting to use the word 'university' in their business, company or domain name.

International Education Legislation

Australia provides rigorous protection for international students through the Education Services for Overseas Students (ESOS) legislation, which requires institutions that provide education to international students, to meet nationally consistent standards in education delivery, facilities and services. It enables the Australian Government to monitor education providers. Breaches of the Act are treated very seriously and the penalties can be significant.

All institutions wanting to deliver courses to international students in Australia must be registered with the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS) and meet special registration conditions.

The National Code of Practice for Registration Authorities and Providers of Education and Training to Overseas Students 2007 (the National Code) provides nationally consistent standards for the conduct of registered providers and the registration of their courses.

The standards set out specifications and procedures to ensure that registered providers of education and training courses can clearly understand and comply with their obligations under the National Code.

The Higher Education Standards Panel (HESP)

The Higher Education Standards Panel (the Panel) provides independent advice on making and varying the Higher Education Standards Framework.

The former Minister for Education and Training, the Hon Christopher Pyne MP, and the former Prime Minister, the Hon Tony Abbott MP, agreed to combine the functions of the Panel and TEQSA Advisory Council. Membership of the Panel was amended in December 2014 and remains consistent with the former TEQSA Advisory Council.