For students

How does TEQSA uphold standards for students?

TEQSA regulates providers of higher education in Australia. We do this under legislation aimed at protecting the interests of Australian domestic students studying in Australia and overseas, as well as international students studying in Australia. 

Two of the objects of the TEQSA Act make clear that TEQSA must:

  • protect students undertaking, or proposing to undertake higher education by requiring the provision of quality higher education; and
  • ensure that students undertaking, or proposing to undertake higher education in Australia, or with Australian higher education providers overseas, have access to information relating to their experience.

This means that before any institution can operate as a higher education provider in Australia, it must demonstrate to TEQSA that it meets minimum national standards of quality, known as the Threshold Standards. 

More information on the Higher Education Standards Framework, which includes the Threshold Standards, is available on the Department of Education and Training's website.  

TEQSA also protects the interests of international students under the Education Services for Students Act 2000 (ESOS Act) and the National Code. Information about these is available on the CRICOS website.

Do the standards apply to higher education delivered online as well?

Students study using different methods. As well as being on campus, students might use multi-media, video and online conferencing tools and podcasted lectures as part of their learning.

Some students study ‘online only’ courses. The TEQSA Act covers the many and diverse ways that higher education is delivered.

Before registering a higher education provider in Australia, TEQSA must be satisfied that students are given every opportunity to be successful in their studies, in line with the requirements of the TEQSA Act, and in particular, the Threshold Standards. 

TEQSA does not, however, regulate the activities of international providers of online courses that are not registered in Australia. More information about TEQSA’s approach to eLearning can be found in our Information Sheet at http://www.teqsa.gov.au/sites/default/files/TEQSAeLearningInformationSheet.pdf

Do students have a voice in the assessment of quality in higher education? 

Student perspectives on their experience with a provider are important. They help to improve the quality of education for themselves and others, as well as future students. 

The Threshold Standards, which must be met by all Australian higher education providers, include a requirement that providers involve students in enhancing their learning experience and include students in the planning and governance of their institutions. 

Here are some of the ways a provider of higher education should engage students: 

  • by encouraging students to participate in meaningful feedback processes, including student surveys;  
  • by informing students of any actions it takes to improve the quality of education as a result of student input; and
  • by having student representation in its decision-making processes about quality improvement and assurance, for example, through student representation on relevant committees or through consultation processes.

What can a student expect from a registered higher education provider?

  • Under the Threshold Standards, all higher education providers must offer students information before and during their study that is relevant to their educational experience with the provider. This might include, for example, information about any contractual arrangements the provider has for the delivery of education. Providers must also make sure students are able to easily access complete and accurate information about fees and charges. Providers should tell students who they can contact if they have queries - and providers should answer queries in a timely way. 

  • Students should have access to effective grievance processes so that they are able to make a complaint about a provider’s operations, as well as any part of its operations that is contracted to another entity. They should be able to access a review by a third party if internal processes do not resolve the grievance. More information about making a complaint about a provider is available on TEQSA’s website at http://www.teqsa.gov.au/complaints#B

  • All students should be able to access learning resources. This includes the electronic and/or physical library and information resources that students need to achieve the outcomes of their course of study.

  • Providers must give students the best chance of success in their study by providing support servicesThese include orientation courses and support to transition to another course if the provider stops operating, for any reason. If a student is struggling, the provider should identify this and offer extra support to help the student cope with the higher education learning environment. The support offered by a provider should reflect the circumstances of students studying with the provider. If, for example, a provider enrols students who are studying remotely, these students must also be given access to adequate support.

  • All providers are obliged to ensure students enjoy a safe and secure learning environment anywhere a provider delivers education. Providers should also advise students on how they can enhance their safety and security, both on and off campus.

Full details about provider responsibilities to students can be found in the Provider Registration Standards section of the Threshold Standards at https://www.comlaw.gov.au/Details/F2015L01639.

Does TEQSA monitor risks to students? 

Yes it does. Once a year, TEQSA undertakes a risk assessment of all registered higher education providers. TEQSA’s risk assessment process considers a range of possible risks to students in a provider’s delivery of quality education, which are organised by the following themes:

  • Student enrolments, outcomes and experience;
  • Staff resources and profile; and
  • Financial viability and sustainability. 

In this process, relevant evidence is reviewed by TEQSA to assess the overall ‘Risk to Students’. The Threshold Standards specifically require a provider to have the financial resources and financial management capacity needed to keep operating. TEQSA takes this matter very seriously and looks at this risk as a core part of its overall risk assessment of a provider. 

Through this process, TEQSA may identify possible problems relating to a provider’s ability to meet the Threshold Standards. TEQSA will then raise these concerns with the provider, and take further action where necessary.

What happens to me if a provider closes unexpectedly or is unable to operate?

The TEQSA Act requires all providers to have plans and safeguards in place to protect the interests of students in the event a provider stops operating, experiences financial difficulties, or is unable to effectively deliver higher education. 

  • If you are an Australian student, studying in Australia or overseas, TEQSA will work with the provider and/or other government agencies to assist you in pursuing your studies.
  • If you are an international student, the Tuition Protection Service (TPS) can assist you to either complete your studies with another provider, or have your unspent tuition fees refunded. You can find more information about the TPS online at https://tps.gov.au/.

How do I know if a provider is registered by TEQSA?

National Register of higher education providers 
All registered providers are listed on the National Register of higher education providers. The Register has key information about a provider’s status. It lists each provider’s legal and trading name/s; Australian Business Number (ABN); head office address and website details. 

The National Register also shows:

  • the provider’s registration category
  • how long the provider is registered
  • whether or not the provider can accredit its own courses (this is generally the case for universities)
  • the names of each course of study accredited by TEQSA; and 
  • the date by when these courses must be reaccredited. 

Importantly, students can use the National Register to see all of TEQSA’s regulatory decisions in relation to the registration and accreditation of a provider. For decisions made by TEQSA on or after 1 July 2013, the National Register will have information about any conditions that have been imposed or removed by TEQSA, and the reasons for these. 

Where can I find more information?

You should be able to find the information you are looking for on your provider’s website. You can also visit a number of government websites:

Study Assist
Study Assist provides information on student loans available under the Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) in both the higher education and VET sectors; courses, institutions and other approved providers that offer Australian Government assistance; and Student Income Support and Australian Scholarships and Awards.

Department of Human Services crestAustudy, ABSTUDY, Youth Allowance
The Australian Government is responsible for the provision of income support and other assistance to students of higher education. The Commonwealth Department of Human Services administers these programs.

 

QILT logoQuality Indicators for Learning and Teaching (QILT) website
The Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching website provides information about Australian universities from the perspective of recent students and graduates. Note: Survey results from non-university higher education providers will be published on the website as they become available.

Study in Australia
The Study in Australia website is is the official Australian Government website for international students. You can use the site to search for courses, institutions and scholarships, learn about studying and living in Australia, watch stories from other students and a lot more. 

CRICOS

Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS)
This website provides a search engine to help students search institutions that have been approved to offer courses to overseas students, and courses that have been approved to be offered to overseas students.

 I would like to make a complaint about a provider or TEQSA

There are a number of options open to a person who wishes to make a complaint about a registered higher education provider or TEQSA. Please refer to our complaints page at http://www.teqsa.gov.au/complaints.