The Key Risk Findings on Australia’s Higher Education Sector (‘Key Risk Findings’) Report (KRF 2019) is TEQSA’s first public release of its risk findings to the sector and other stakeholders. This is in line with TEQSA’s commitment to publish key data used or collected by the agency (TEQSA Corporate Plan 2018– 2022, Action 3.2) in order to be open and transparent in its dealings with Australia’s higher education providers.

TEQSA’s risk assessments are conducted on an annual basis and serve as a regulatory tool which guides TEQSA’s priorities and regulatory scoping activities in a risk-reflective manner. The KRF 2019 provides insights based on aggregated observations of performance and risks derived from TEQSA’s regulatory experience with the sector and articulates TEQSA’s risk analysis process in further detail. Through this report, TEQSA aims to better inform stakeholders about the state of the sector, to increase the sector’s confidence in TEQSA’s risk-based approach to regulation, and to clarify the internal processes behind, and outcomes of, TEQSA’s risk findings.

The use of historical data enables TEQSA to present snapshots of risk indicators across Australia’s higher education sector, along with commentary regarding the sector’s performance and identified risks thus far. The statistical analyses in this report enable providers to reflect upon the performance of each provider category and the sector and to identify areas for further improvement.

Data in this report are derived from higher education data used within TEQSA’s risk assessments. These are primarily sourced from the Department of Education’s Higher Education Information Management System (HEIMS) data collection, the Provider Information Request (PIR) data collection, the Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching (QILT), and the HELP IT System (HITS). The data scope ranges from 2012 to 2016 for the student and staff indicators, and 2012 to mid-2017 for the financial indicators. The scope of this report covers TEQSA’s risk assessment process, risk profiles of provider types within the sector, and risk findings based on risk cycle years 2014 to 2018.

TEQSA acknowledges that the risk ratings are based on historical data. For instance, Cycle Six, which was conducted in 2018, draws from data between 2016 to mid-2017. The report is therefore limited in the extent of which certain conclusions may be drawn about the current and future state of the sector. The risk ratings are also dependent on the established risk thresholds which are aligned with TEQSA’s risk appetite. As such, the risk ratings are indicative of TEQSA’s risk tolerance, and the concept of ‘risk’ in this context is not absolute.

For the purposes of this report, TEQSA has grouped providers by broad operating model. The market groupings used in this report are:

  • For-profit providers
  • Not-for-profit providers (includes Technical and Further Education providers)
  • Universities

Though the analysis in this report differentiates between for-profit providers, not-for-profit providers, and universities, it is important to note that there is a diversity of risk assessment outcomes within each market group, and that there are exceptions to the trends presented within this report.

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