Under the TEQSA Act 2011, Flinders University is registered as a Higher Education Provider until 23 May 2020.
All Higher Education Providers in Australia must comply with the Commonwealth Government's Threshold Standards, which form part of the Higher Education Standards Framework:
1. Provider Registration Standards,
2. Provider Category Standards,
3. Provider Course Accreditation Standards, and
4. Qualification Standards.
TEQSA registers Higher Education Providers against the Threshold Standards.
The Commonwealth government approved revised Threshold Standards in late 2015 and these come into effect from 1 January 2017.
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. The International Centre is responsible for registering the University's courses for CRICOS.
Third Party Partnership Arrangements
The University engages in cooperative arrangements with a range of Australian and international organisations for the provision of academic programs, infrastructure, facilities and services. Such third party partnership arrangements must be governed by appropriate contracts or written agreements and should be cognisant of TEQSA's Guidance Note on Third Party Arrangements .
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.
Policies related to the development and approval of Third Party Arrangements
The following University policies cover aspects of the development and approval of third party arrangements:
- Course and Topic Development, Approval and Management
- Authorisation of University Expenditure and Schedule of Expenditure Authorisation
- Delegations of Authority to Enter into Contracts
- Risk Management Policy
- Development of Off-Shore Programs
The negotiation of all third party arrangements must ensure that appropriate provision is made for due diligence, compliance and risk management, and that the Threshold Standards can be met. The proposer of the third party arrangement is responsible for the assessment and management of risk in relation to all third parties involved.
All proposals for onshore third party arrangements must be scrutinised under relevant provisions of the above policies to ensure compliance with the Threshold Standards before they are approved.
The International Centre scrutinises proposals for offshore academic arrangements to ensure compliance.
All third party agreements must be approved and signed before they are implemented.
Approval of Academic Programs involving Third Party Arrangements
The approval of all academic programs is provided for by the Course and Topic Development, Approval and Management Policy.
- Offshore third party arrangements for academic programs: The delivery of the University’s academic programs by or in conjunction with third parties offshore must be approved in accordance with the provisions of the Flinders Offshore Guide, Stage 3.
- Onshore third party arrangements for academic programs: Onshore third party arrangements may be approved by the Executive Dean of Faculty.
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. 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. See TEQSA's Guidance Note on Third Party Arrangements.
Review of Third Party Arrangements
Agreements and contracts for third party arrangements should include clauses providing for monitoring and review of those arrangements against the requirements of the Threshold Standards to ensure that the arrangements continue to provide adequately for their intended purposes. Monitoring and review processes should be used to inform decisions for the continuation or amendment of such arrangements.
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 such agreements are to be catalogued in TRIM, the University's corporate records management system. 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.
Australian Qualifications Framework
The Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) is the national policy for regulated qualifications in Australian education and training. It incorporates the qualifications from each education and training sector into a single comprehensive national qualifications framework. In 2011, under the leadership of the AQF Council, the AQF was revised to ensure that qualification outcomes remain relevant and nationally consistent, continue to support flexible qualifications linkages and pathways and enable national and international portability and comparability of qualifications.
The organising framework for the AQF is a taxonomic structure of levels and qualification types each of which is defined by a taxonomy of learning outcomes. The AQF levels define the relative complexity and depth of achievement and the autonomy required of graduates to demonstrate that achievement. In the AQF there are 10 levels with level 1 having the lowest complexity and AQF level 10 the highest complexity. The levels are defined by criteria expressed as learning outcomes.
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.