The Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) assumed its full regulatory functions from 29 January 2012.
Under the TEQSA Act 2011, Flinders University is registered as a Higher Education Provider until 31 December 2012. The University has recently submitted to TEQSA its application for re-registration and is awaiting the outcome.
In December 2011, the Commonwealth Minister for Tertiary Education approved the following Threshold Standards, which for part of the Higher Education Standards Framework, effective from 4 January 2012:
1. Provider Registration Standards,
2. Provider Category Standards,
3. Provider Course Accreditation Standards, and
4. Qualification Standards.
Details are at http:www.teqsa.gov.au/higher-education-threshold-standards. TEQSA will register Higher Education Providers against the Threshold Standards, and the University’s re-registration application will need to address the Threshold Standards.
Material Changes affecting a Higher Education Provider
Under Section 29(1) of the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency Act 2011, it is the responsibility of a registered Higher Education Provider to notify TEQSA of changes that significantly affect the provider’s ability to meet the Threshold Standards or that affect the provider’s entry on the National Register of Higher Education Providers. TEQSA has established a process and guidelines for notifying such material changes. According to the guidelines, ‘material changes’ are changes that:
- significantly affect a provider’s ability to meet any of the Threshold Standards (comprising the Provider Registration Standards, the Provider Course Accreditation Standards, the Provider Category Standards and the Qualification Standards) and/or
- require updating of information about the provider that is recorded in the National Register of Higher Education Providers.
The relevant documents are at http://www.teqsa.gov.au/for-providers/provider-obligations/material-changes
Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS)
Education providers offering courses to onshore international students must register these courses on CRICOS. TEQSA is the designated authority responsible for assessing CRICOS applications. Application forms and additional information for faculties wishing to add or amend courses on CRICOS are available on the International Office Web page.
Third Party Partnership Arrangements to be notified to TEQSA
TEQSA requires that a Higher Education Provider (HEP) notifies it of any partnership arrangements that potentially impact on the Provider’s ability to meet the Threshold Standards. Such partnerships include the joint offering of programs and arrangements where a third party delivers part or all of a Flinders program, eg Flinders offers the Flinders Bachelor of Psychological Science (Honours) in Malaysia through HELP University (Malaysia).
TEQSA is particularly concerned to know when a HEP engages another body, especially offshore, to teach part of a course offered by that HEP. A HEP that offers an award is responsible for all the teaching related to the delivery of the course leading to that award, and is thus responsible for the teaching undertaken by the third party.
Any changes to partnership arrangements or partner circumstances that constitute “material changes” must be notified to TEQSA. Such material change events can include the establishment, failure or discontinuation of arrangements with partner organisations or agents used by the University to deliver programs or provide services.
The table Partnership Arrangements to be notified to TEQSA1.pdf (PDF 22KB) identifies the main types of arrangement in which Flinders is involved, the potential risks to Flinders’ ability to meet the Threshold Standards, and whether such agreements need to be notified to TEQSA. The establishment, failure or discontinuation of any partnership agreement or arrangement must be notified immediately to the TEQSA Administrative Officer, Policy & Secretariat, so that a determination can be made as to whether TEQSA needs to be informed. A copy of the contract or agreement concerned must be supplied.
Quality Assurance of Third Party Programs
Where a third party offers a program to Flinders students on behalf of Flinders, Flinders should assure the quality of that program. The program needs to meet TEQSA's Provider Course Accreditation Standards (PDF 41KB) . The third party should also be able to meet TEQSA's requirements (PDF 15KB) in respect of the functions it is performing on behalf of the University. Before any agreement or contract with a third party is finalised, the University must be sure that it can certify to TEQSA that the arrangement with the third party concerned can meet all relevant requirements of the Threshold Standards.
TEQSA Quality Assessments
TEQSA has indicated that, in fulfilment of its quality assurance responsibilities, it will undertake formal quality assessments. The first quality assessments will address two areas that have been identified as matters of concern within the sector: English Language proficiency and third party arrangements. TEQSA has recently announced the terms of reference of its review of third party arrangements and intends to survey Providers’ third party arrangements from March this year.
Approval of Contracts and Record Keeping
Any partnership arrangements will need to comply with the University’s requirements for contracts as set out on the Contracts Management web-page. All contacts and agreements are to be placed on the University’s Contracts Register. In addition, Faculties and Schools should keep records of the existence, currency and nature of all contracts and agreements so that any changes can be tracked and thus notified to TEQSA through the University’s TEQSA Administrative Officer.
TEQSA and AQF
TEQSA has published a set of Frequently Asked Questions in relation to the Australian Qualifications Framework and the Threshold Standards. Please note these when developing course proposals to ensure that the University’s courses meet both TEQSA’s and the AQF’s requirements.
Vice-President (Strategy and Planning)