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TEQSA shake up

 28 February 2014

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The government has introduced a bill to radically restructure the national higher education regulatory agency.

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cut red tapeThe bill provides for a spill of the positions of the five commissioners who run the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency TEQSA.

The position of chief commissioner and chief executive, held by Carol Nicoll, will be split in two and Nicoll’s position as chief commissioner terminated 21 days after the law coming into effect.  The other 4 commissioner positions will terminate in three months, during which time the positions will be advertised.

TEQSA has been criticised for heavy-handedness, excessive bureaucracy and delays and was the subject of a review last year which made 11 recommendations to reduce regulatory red tape.   The explanatory memorandum to the bill states that the purpose of the legislation is to give effect to the recommendations “to increase the efficiency of TEQSA and reduce the regulatory burden on higher education institutions.”

As well as terminating the appointments of  current commissioners, the bill provides for:

  • removal of the current quality assessment function of TEQSA, following the Review’s finding that providers already have robust internal processes to ensure quality
  • enhance TEQSA’s ability to delegate its functions and powers to appropriate TEQSA staff .
  • provide applicants with access to internal review of decisions (which can only currently be appealed through the Administrative Appeals Tribunal
  • give TEQSA the power to extend the period of a higher education provider’s registration or accreditation
  • provide the minister with greater flexibility to determine the number of Commissioners to be appointed and remove the requirement to appoint a specific number of part-time and full-time Commissioners.

Kwong Lee Dow, who led last year’s review, is reported as supporting the key elements of the bill.

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