Our role

We are responsible for regulating and assuring the quality of all providers of higher education in Australia. 

The Australian higher education sector includes public and private universities, Australian branches of overseas universities, university colleges and institutes of higher education.

Higher education providers offer qualifications ranging from undergraduate awards (bachelor degrees, associate degrees and advanced diplomas) to postgraduate awards (graduate certificates and diplomas, masters and doctoral degrees).   

The Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency Act 2011 (TEQSA Act) which established us as an agency, calls for us to:

  • register regulated entities as higher education providers and accredit their courses of study
  • conduct compliance and quality assessments
  • conduct re-accreditation assessments of courses developed by providers without self-accrediting authority
  • provide advice and make recommendations to the Commonwealth Minister responsible for Education on matters relating to the quality and regulation of higher education providers
  • cooperate with similar agencies in other countries
  • collect, analyse, interpret and disseminate information relating to quality assurance practice and quality improvement in higher education
  • to investigate and take action against individuals or organisations offering or advertising commercial academic cheating services to students at Australian higher education providers.

What is higher education?

Also known as tertiary education, higher education consists of awards spanning Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) levels 5-10, which include: diplomas; advanced diplomas; associate degrees; bachelor degrees (including honours); graduate certificates; graduate diplomas; masters degrees; doctoral degrees; and higher doctoral degrees.

For more information about higher education AQF levels, visit our Australian Qualifications Framework page.

Our approach to quality assurance and regulation

Our regulatory approach is standards and risk-based, and guided by the following three regulatory principles:

  1. regulatory necessity
  2. reflecting risk
  3. proportionate regulation.

For more information view Our approach to quality assurance and regulation.

The Australian higher education legal framework

The legal framework which governs Australian higher education consists of the following (click on the arrows for a short overview):

Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Act 2011 

Established TEQSA as an agency and calls for regulation of higher education through a standards-based quality framework with principles relating to regulatory necessity, risk and proportionality. 

Higher Education Standards Framework (Threshold Standards) 2021

Applies to all higher education providers. Set by the Minister for Education on the advice of a panel with expertise in the delivery of higher education, they are the minimum level of achievement that a provider must meet and maintain to be registered to deliver higher education courses of study.

Education Services for Overseas Students Act 2000 (ESOS Act)

Applies to providers offering courses to students in Australia on student visas. These include higher education courses, Foundation Programs (except those delivered by schools), and ELICOS programs delivered by higher education providers.

National Code of Practice for Providers of Education and Training to Overseas Students 2018

A set of nationally consistent standards that protect international students. The National Code protects governs courses registered on the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS). Only CRICOS courses can be offered to international students studying in Australia on a student visa.

More information can be found in the Acts and Standards section of our website.

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