In May 2019, the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) embarked on a process of consulting with the higher education sector on TEQSA’s Risk Assessment Framework (‘the Framework’). The current framework has been in place since 2014, and accordingly, it is timely for TEQSA to consider ways in which the Framework can be improved to effectively and comprehensively reflect the nature and operations of higher education providers.

The consultation process commenced in May 2019 with a critical friends consultation, followed by a consultation paper that was released in July 2019, and finally, a series of workshops held across five cities—Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane, Adelaide, and Sydney. The workshops were well attended, with 271 representatives from 141 higher education providers and key peak bodies. TEQSA also received 17 written submissions representing various parts of the sector—independent providers, faith-based providers, pathway providers, TAFEs, and universities.

Through the consultation process, TEQSA asked stakeholders to consider: the effectiveness of the Framework and the risk indicators; areas for improvement to the Framework; whether the Framework should be universal or differentiated; the use of provider context and regulatory history; the publication of provider performance data and the risk thresholds; and sector risks.

Broadly, stakeholders were supportive of the overall structure of the Framework and the key risk areas within the Framework. However, some of the recurring feedback received included the consideration of more contextual factors that impact risk indicators such as Attrition, Graduate Destinations, and Student-Staff Ratio. The issue of data lag in the risk assessments also featured prominently throughout the workshops. Stakeholders also proposed potential new risk indicators, suggested revised methodologies for existing risk indicators, and gave their insight into the risks faced by the sector today. Moreover, stakeholders requested for more guidance from TEQSA on the types of information and contextual factors that are taken into account in the risk assessments.

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