This report finds that having one body responsible for compliance and monitoring is crucial to maintaining the quality of Australia’s higher education sector.
On the 29th of May 2013, the Australian Government announced its action plan, Assuring quality while reducing regulatory burden. One of the elements of the plan is this review of higher education regulation.
Excellence in higher education is essential to Australia’s competitiveness in the Asian century. There is an international consensus that the reach, quality and performance of a nation’s higher education system are key determinants of its economic and social progress. Moreover an effective, high quality and streamlined regulatory approach is a fundamentally important component of a competitive higher education system.
It is imperative in the competitive global environment that Australia demonstrates the quality of its higher education learning outcomes. This is particularly important in a changing funding environment, moving from controlled allocation of places to one that is driven by student demand.
This review was established to examine concerns raised by the sector about regulation in higher education; specifically, the cost of regulatory compliance and reporting in meeting the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency’s (TEQSA) requirements. Despite the best of intentions, it is quite telling that within eighteen months of establishment, TEQSA’s regulatory approach has caused concern to such an extent that this review has become necessary. There is clearly a mismatch between the sector’s expectations of the agency and their experiences of working with it. This could be attributed to many environmental and contextual factors; all of which may be underpinned by the founding legislation–its limitations and intersections, and interpretations of how it works with these.