6 August 2013
In responding to the release of the Review of Higher Education Regulation by Professors Kwong Lee Dow and Valerie Braithwaite, Chief Executive of Universities Australia, Belinda Robinson commended the authors on the depth and comprehensiveness of their report, commissioned by the Government less than three months ago.
The recommendations of the report largely reflect the positions put forward by Universities Australia’s submission including the need to clarify TEQSA’s application of the regulatory principles of risk, necessity and proportionality, and a light-touch regulatory approach for universities in recognition of their independence and high degree of autonomy.
It also supports the need for improving alignment and strengthening relationships within the regulatory community, critical to ensuring the removal of duplication.
The report has highlighted a number of important means for ensuring that TEQSA operates as a responsive partner with higher education rather than as an adversary.
The Chair of the Regional University Network, Professor David Battersby, said that the report advocated a sensible response to the regulatory issues facing the sector, and that the reviewers had produced a comprehensive report in a short space of time.
The Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) has an important role to play. As the review notes, more Australians than ever, particularly from lower socio-economic status backgrounds, are participating in higher education, and regional universities are contributing substantially to this. Australia continues to maintain its outstanding reputation for delivering quality education.
Universities are self-accrediting institutions, and RUN supports the reduction of the regulatory burden on the sector. We support TEQSA focussing on its core activities of provider registration and course accreditation, and agree that further consideration should be given to aligning and streamlining regulatory activities and reporting.
Professor Barney Glover, Chair of the Innovative Research Universities group, said the report lays down an excellent basis for the next Government and provides a sound basis for ensuring the essential quality of each higher education provider while encouraging universities and other providers to continue developing the nature of higher education.
The report makes clear that the legislative framework has pushed TEQSA into difficult positions but also that the relationships across the various bodies involved must be better….A TEQSA that concentrates on the big picture will be much more effective, letting universities and other bodies identify and counter minor issues and work on improving higher education.
The Australian Technology Network said the report takes a positive step in acknowledging the regulatory burden on the higher education sector and will be the start of further dialogue towards solutions and reform. But ATN director Vicki Thomson warned against taking the “Q” out of TEQSA:
TEQSA can effectively identify and act on nation-wide quality issues detected through its provider risk assessment process- if we strip out quality assurance from TEQSA how can we safeguard the quality reputation of the Sector? What is the deterrent to rogues cashing in on our good name? We need to remove red tape, but QA (processes) are not red tape if there is strong impetus for action.
She said that TEQSA should maintain a role in quality assurance- but that thematic reviews should only be undertaken where nation-wide issues are detected by TEQSA through its risk assessment process.