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TEQSA cuts “nuts”

The Australian    |   21 May 2014

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A budget line item to halve the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency’s (TEQSA) funding has been described as “counter¬intuitive” by Hilary Winchester, deputy vice-chancellor at CQ University and a former higher education auditor.

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Winchester said:Regulatory jigsaw 2

It does look nuts to me. We will see … new operators rushing to get registered and offer higher education programs in what they see as a low cost market.

The 2014-15 budget papers show regulation and quality assurance cuts from $20.4 million in 2013 to $10.3m in 2017. According to the budget statement :

Reduced funding for TEQSA in 2014-15 and forward years has been significantly reduced following the government’s acceptance of the recommendations of the review of higher education regulation. Funding is reduced by $3.338m in 2014-15, $7.596m in 2015-16 and $9.999m in 2016-17.

While the cuts are meant to reflect a reduction in red tape, the review by Lee Kwong Dow and Valerie Braithwaite did not take into account the opening up of the sector to private operators as proposed by the government.

Peter Coaldrake, vice-chancellor of Queensland University of Technology, says

With the prospect of new providers, the role of TEQSA is to protect Brand Australia and it will need to ensure there are proper processes for vetting new providers.  If there are a large number of new providers wanting to get into the system, that is going to require a lot of energy and resources.

A TEQSA spokesman said business processes would be reviewed to ensure “regulatory work continues in line with its legislated obligations”.

Professor Winchester said there is a very real chance certain discipline areas would be swamped by private colleges.
These colleges want to do it on their own terms, she said, adding there would be a lot of interest in the provision of degrees which don’t vary much in content, such as business.

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