Our leadership and organisation

TEQSA Commission

Our Commissioners are appointed by the Commonwealth Minister for Education based on their expertise in higher education quality assurance and regulatory practice. Commissioners are responsible for making regulatory decisions, setting strategic directions, monitoring risk in the sector and deciding on matters relating to the development of our quality assurance and regulatory functions. The Commissioners are TEQSA's accountable authority.

TEQSA's Commissioners also inform the higher education sector about our work and the responsibilities of higher education providers under the Australian Government’s regulatory system. Our Commissioners are:

Adrienne Nieuwenhuis (Acting Chief Commissioner)

Adrienne Nieuwenhuis

Adrienne Nieuwenhuis was appointed Acting Chief Commissioner of TEQSA on 11 May 2024. 

Before her appointment as a TEQSA Commissioner in 2021, Adrienne was the Director of the Office of Vice-Chancellor at the University of South Australia. Prior to this, Adrienne was the Director Quality, Tertiary Education, Science and Research in the South Australian Department of Further Education, Employment, Science and Technology.

Adrienne has provided strategic leadership, policy advice and investment direction to support tertiary education, science and research in South Australia. She was also responsible for the regulation of both higher education and vocational education and training (VET) in South Australia and worked closely with the Australian Government in the establishment of the national regulatory systems for both higher education and VET.

Adrienne was an inaugural member of the Higher Education Standards Panel (2011–14) and the National Skills Standards Council (2011–13). She was reappointed to the Higher Education Standards Panel for a further three-year term in 2018.

Adrienne has been a member of the South Australian Skills Commission since 2013 and has held several roles within the Commission, including Deputy Chair of the Commission (2013–14, 2019–20) and Chair of the Commission’s Traineeship and Apprenticeship subcommittee (2013 – present). Adrienne was also a member of the Australian Industry and Skills Committee (2019–22).

Adrienne has over 30 years’ experience in tertiary education and has been a member of various state and federal committees and working parties associated with tertiary education. She holds an honours degree in science and a master’s degree in education policy and administration.

Emeritus Professor Joan Cooper (Commissioner)

Emeritus Professor Joan Cooper

Emeritus Professor Joan Cooper was previously a higher education consultant, a position she took on after retiring as Pro Vice-Chancellor (Students) at the University of New South Wales (UNSW). Her other executive academic positions include Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) at Flinders University and Dean of Informatics at the University of Wollongong where she served as Chair of the University Senate (Academic Board). She has also held senior positions at two other Australian universities.

Professor Cooper’s most recent work involved delivering a variety of higher education consultancy services to higher education private providers in Australia. This included chairing governance committees, reviews of operational areas, and reviews for TEQSA registration, re-registration and accreditation.

She has chaired several governing councils and academic boards for private providers, including TAFE NSW. She was also a member of the TAFE NSW Commission Board.

Professor Cooper has wide-ranging experience both nationally and internationally in tertiary education accreditation and quality audits. In the last 10 years she has served on accreditation/quality panels including chairing many panels in Australia, Asia and the Middle East. Professor Cooper also has experience in managing quality audits.

Professor Cooper completed her Bachelor of Mathematics (Honours) and Doctor of Philosophy at the University of Newcastle. She was the foundation Professor of Information Technology at Wollongong University and the first female professor of IT in Australia.

In 2003, she was appointed an Emeritus Professor of Wollongong, a title conferred in recognition of her contribution to the University, and in 2004 was awarded the University of Newcastle’s Convocation Medal for Professional Excellence. In April 2012, UNSW appointed her as an Emeritus Professor.

Stephen Somogyi (Commissioner)

Stephen Somogyi

Steve Somogyi was appointed a TEQSA Commissioner in November 2021. He has extensive global experience in the financial services, health care, higher education and prudential regulation sectors and has chaired boards and audit and risk committees.

Steve served as the Chief Operating Officer at RMIT University for 10 years from July 2006 until July 2016. He then became a Strategic Adviser to Monash University, Victoria University, the University of Melbourne, the University of Adelaide, Siemens, Queensland Investment Corporation and Energy Trade.

He has chaired complex projects including the Queen Street Precinct project to improve student experience for Victoria University. He also helped create the Net Zero Program for Monash to achieve energy savings and zero net carbon emissions by 2030 and developed a strategic approach to the Higher Education and Health Care sectors for the Siemens Smart Cities Business Unit.

He was a member of the Expert Review Group for the Australian Council for Educational Research.

Steve has held a range of senior roles in government and industry at the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority, Trowbridge Consulting, Mayne Nickless, Bonlac Foods, IOOF and the CPI Group. He worked at National Mutual for 27 years and ended his career there as Chief Finance Executive and Chief Actuary.

His work on boards includes serving as a Commission Member of the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission, former Chair of Guild Group, Director of UniSuper including Chair of the Audit, Risk and Compliance Committee, former Chair of Higher Ed Services, Chair of Course-Loop and former Director of Study Loans.

Earning a Master of Science in High Energy Physics from the University of Melbourne and a Master of Science in Management (Sloan Fellow) from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Steve is a Fellow of the Institute of Actuaries of Australia, of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and of the Financial Services Institute of Australia.

Chief Executive Officer

Dr Mary Russell, CEO

Dr Mary Russell

Dr Mary Russell is CEO at TEQSA. She was appointed to the role in May 2024, having led TEQSA as acting CEO since June 2023.

Mary joined TEQSA as the Executive Director of Regulatory Operations in 2022. In this role she led the regulatory teams which manage higher education provider registration, course accreditation, compliance and regulatory risk assessments.

Before joining TEQSA, Mary was Assistant Ombudsman for Dispute Resolution at the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman. She held executive roles at the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) for six years, including as State Manager for Victoria, National Manager of Notifications and National Manager of Regulatory Risk Strategy. While at AHPRA, she led the development and implementation of a risk-based approach to managing concerns about the performance and conduct of health practitioners.

Mary has served as chair and member of regulatory boards, concurrently with roles as a health practitioner and a tertiary educator. She has extensive experience of university teaching, curriculum development and delivery, and has completed her PhD in Health Sciences.

Executive Leadership Team

The Commission is supported by an Executive Leadership Team (ELT) comprising the Chief Executive Officer, Executive Director of Regulatory Operations and senior managers. ELT is responsible for the management of our regulatory business, corporate processes and people.

Organisation structure

TEQSA organisation chart

Audit and Risk Committee

We have established an Audit and Risk Committee in compliance with the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 and PGPA Rule.

Higher Education Standards Panel

The Higher Education Standards Panel (HESP) is an expert statutory advisory body, established under the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency Act 2011 (TEQSA Act), with responsibility related to the standards for delivery of higher education in Australia. 
HESP is independent of TEQSA. 

•    Learn more about HESP [External website]

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