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Cost recovery for regulatory activity - frequently asked questions

Updated 11 November 2022

From 1 January 2023, TEQSA will transition to increased cost recovery for most of our regulatory and quality assurance activities in accordance with the Australian Government Charging Framework and Cost Recovery Guidelines (AGCRG). This transition will be phased in over three years.

The following information aims to answer common questions from providers about TEQSA’s implementation of cost recovery for regulatory activities.

“You”, “I”, “my” and "your" means you as a registered higher education provider.

“Us”, “we” and “our” means us as the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA).

What is cost recovery?

Cost recovery involves the Australian Government charging the non-government sector some or all of the efficient costs of a specific government activity.

The characteristics of a government activity will determine the type of cost recovery charge used.

Further information about the Australian Government’s cost recovery guidelines is located on the Department of Finance website.

What are TEQSA’s fees and charges?

Our Cost Recovery Implementation Statement 2022-23 (CRIS) provides key information on how TEQSA calculates and implements fees and charges for specific regulatory activity.

We will be recovering our costs via:

1. A registered higher education provider charge (RHEP charge)
As a condition of registration, each registered higher education provider will be required to pay the registered higher education provider charge (RHEP charge). The RHEP charge (see Part 4.5 of the CRIS) incorporates an annual registration charge for all providers and any additional charges an individual provider must pay as a result of compliance activities undertaken by TEQSA in relation to their institute, university or college. 

2. Application-based fees
Set fees (see Part 3 and Appendix A of the CRIS) will be payable by providers for each application they make to TEQSA, such as applications for registration, re-registration, accreditation and re-accreditation.

When will the costs of these fees and charges be available?

Our cost recovery fees and charges are set out in the TEQSA Cost Recovery Implementation Statement 2022-23 (CRIS).

We are currently drafting guidelines on practical matters including those relating to invoicing for the RHEP charge. Further information will be published soon and communicated to the sector.

We appreciate your patience as we work to finalise this matter.

When will I have to pay fees and charges?

TEQSA will issue the first invoices for the registered higher education provider (RHEP charge) to providers in early 2023.  As per the CRIS, this annual registration component of the RHEP will be charged at 20 per cent of the full amount in the first year.

Providers will continue to be invoiced for application fees when they submit a valid application such as an application for provider registration or re-registration, or course accreditation or re-accreditation.

For other so-called non-application based activities (investigations, compliance assessments, monitoring of conditions or voluntary undertakings), providers will be charged in arrears for the activity that has taken place in a calendar year:

  • Providers will only be charged in relation to an investigation or compliance assessment that commences after 1 January 2023. That charge will form part of their RHEP invoice in early 2024.
  • Providers will only be charged in relation to the monitoring of conditions or voluntary undertakings that take place from 1 January 2023. Providers will not be charged on the basis that a condition applied or a voluntary undertaking was in place in 2022.

For clarity, the invoices for the RHEP charge issued in 2023 will only include the amount the provider owes in relation to the annual registration charge (sector-wide activity that cannot be attributed to a single provider). The invoices will not include any charges relating to an investigation, compliance assessment, condition or voluntary undertaking in relation to individual providers.

What does TEQSA do with the money it receives from cost recovery?

TEQSA is not the recipient of the recovered costs. All fees and charges are directed to the Commonwealth’s Consolidated Revenue Fund.

Registered higher education provider (RHEP) charge

What is the RHEP charge and how often do I have to pay it?

The annual RHEP charge (see Part 4.5 of the CRIS) will be payable by all registered providers as a condition of their registration. The RHEP incorporates the annual registration charge and any additional charges payable as a result of specific TEQSA compliance activities (such as a compliance assessment or investigation, or the monitoring of conditions and voluntary undertakings) directly related to a provider.

TEQSA will send providers an invoice relating to the RHEP charge annually.

When will I receive my invoice for the RHEP charge? Will it be itemised?

TEQSA will issue the first invoices for the RHEP charge to providers in early 2023. All invoices will be itemised.

Annual registration charge

What is the timeline for the phase-in of the annual registration charge?

We will begin the phased introduction of an annual registration charge for all providers from 1 January 2023.

Under the phase-in approach, the annual registration charge for 2023 will be 20 per cent of the full amount, increasing to 50 per cent from 1 January 2024 and then 100 per cent from 1 January 2025.

Is there an annual registration charge discount for smaller providers?

The cost recovery model is based on regulatory effort or activity rather than provider size. The annual registration charge covers indirect costs for regulatory activities, such as guidance notes, that apply to all providers.

Once the phase-in period is completed, there will be no discounts to the annual registration charge.

Specific compliance activity

As part of the annual RHEP charge, you will be charged for compliance activities undertaken by TEQSA specific to your institute, university or college.

If the assessment or investigation starts in 2022 but continues into 2023, will the provider be charged?

No. Providers will only be charged in relation to an investigation or compliance assessment that commences after 1 January 2023.

Why can’t TEQSA roll compliance costs into the annual registration charge?

The annual registration charge recovers TEQSA’s costs in relation to activities that cannot be attributed to a single provider such as costs relating to risk and compliance activity that applies across the sector.

Compliance costs arise from concerns about an individual provider. The relevant provider will be required to pay the charges associated with compliance activities undertaken by TEQSA. A principal consideration here is that individual providers subject to investigations and compliance assessments should bear the costs of these specific activities, not all providers.

Will providers be charged for ‘investigations’ prompted by false allegations?

TEQSA will only commence an investigation or compliance assessment where our preliminary assessment has confirmed there is a reasonable basis for a substantive concern. Investigations (which are rare) and compliance assessments will not be commenced without a proper basis.

As cost recovery is based on activity undertaken, the cost will be payable even when the outcome of the assessment is not to take regulatory action. TEQSA notes that investigations and compliance assessments often lead to compliance outcomes regardless of any formal regulatory actions taken.

Will providers be charged a fixed rate regardless of the duration, nature or level of intensity of reporting required by that condition?

Further work is being undertaken in coming months regarding conditions and the charges they incur.

The costs for condition monitoring will be recovered in 2024. At that time, providers will be charged for conditions that applied in 2023, regardless of when those conditions were imposed. Charges for conditions will not be recovered in relation to conditions that applied in 2022.

TEQSA is continuing to develop the regulations that will support an increased cost recovery model, and we will communicate to the sector when more information specific to this query is released.

We appreciate your patience as we work to finalise this matter.

Will there be a separate charge for the annual compliance program if a provider is selected to be part of it?

The registered higher education provider (RHEP) charge includes an annual registration charge that all providers have to pay. This annual registration charge will recover TEQSA’s costs in relation to activities that cannot be attributed to a single provider (such as costs relating to risk and compliance activity that applies across the sector).

A provider’s RHEP charge will only include additional charges for a compliance assessment or investigation where TEQSA’s preliminary assessment of an allegation or complaint has confirmed there is a reasonable basis for a substantive concern. Investigations (which are rare) and compliance assessments will not be commenced without a proper basis.

Is there an expected length of time for a compliance investigation to be completed?

TEQSA will only commence an investigation or compliance assessment where our preliminary assessment has confirmed there is a reasonable basis for a substantive concern. Investigations (which are rare) and compliance assessments will not be commenced without a proper basis.

It is not possible to provide an accurate estimate on the amount of time it will take to complete a compliance assessment. However, the CRIS provides for a set fee per compliance assessment that will not vary based on the amount of time the assessment takes. 

Whilst an investigation is charged based on time spent, TEQSA conducts investigations rarely so it is not possible to provide an estimate of how long an investigation is likely to take. Further, the answer to this question will always depend upon the particular investigation.

Application-based fees

You will pay a set fee (see Part 3 of the CRIS) for each application you make to TEQSA, such as applications for registration, re-registration, accreditation and re-accreditation.

Will there be a phase-in period for fees, similar to the annual registration charge?

No. The fees for applications will apply in full to all providers from 1 January 2023. 

Are there discounts for smaller providers on the fees for applications?

Discounts of up to 70 per cent will apply to the fees associated with course accreditation and re-accreditation for providers with fewer than 5000 EFTSL (Equivalent Full Time Student Load).

My institution has an application for re-registration or course re-accreditation that will likely not be completed by TEQSA this year. Will we have to pay for work that takes place in 2023?

Providers will pay fees based on when a valid application for re-registration or re-accreditation, that complies with all of the relevant requirements in the TEQSA Act, is submitted to TEQSA. Where a provider makes a valid application in 2022, the provider will not be required to pay the fees set out in the CRIS in relation to that application. TEQSA will inform providers as soon as possible after an application is submitted whether the application is valid or whether a new application needs to be made.

Please note, there are requirements that providers must meet for an application to be considered valid and ready for assessment.

If I lodge my application for an initial registration or course accreditation before 31 December 2022, will I have to pay a fee?

Providers will pay fees based on when a valid application for initial registration or course accreditation, that complies with all of the relevant requirements in the TEQSA Act, is submitted.

Where a provider makes a valid application in 2022, the provider will not be required to pay the fees set out in the CRIS for a preliminary assessment and substantive assessment in relation to the application for registration or accreditation. TEQSA will inform providers as soon as possible after an application is submitted whether the application is valid or whether a new application needs to be made.

Please note, there are requirements that providers must meet for an application to be considered valid and ready for assessment.

Can I submit any applications for initial registration or accreditation to TEQSA to take advantage of the fee waiver period?

Providers are able to submit applications at a time of their choosing, for new applications (e.g. course accreditation) and for renewals. Where a provider makes a valid application in 2022, the provider will not be required to pay the fees set out in the CRIS for a preliminary assessment and substantive assessment in relation to the application for registration or accreditation.

We request that providers engage with us at least six months prior to the date of submission, to allow us to work together to clarify the evidence requirements and scope of the application and assist providers to submit a valid application that is ready for assessment.

For renewal of TEQSA registration and course accreditation (excluding undergraduate certificate courses), the requested date of submission is six months prior to the expiration date of the registration or accreditation period (or 90 days in the case of a CRICOS re-registration). Any shortening of the submission period is at TEQSA’s discretion. For renewal applications, it’s important that providers engage with us in preparation for submitting an assessment to help them to submit a valid application that is ready for assessment.

What is TEQSA doing to further improve the completion times for applications for registration or accreditation?

At this time, TEQSA has a high number of scheduled and unscheduled registration and course accreditation assessments. This will impact on our processing times into 2023 and we appreciate your patience during this time.

TEQSA is committed to improving the timeliness of its decision-making for assessing applications. A range of strategies is underway to streamline our approach and reduce the administrative burden associated with regulation for providers.

Will fees apply per course or per CRICOS application? If a provider is applying for multiple courses in one application, will there be multiple charges or one charge?

Fees will be applied per activity. This means that a fee will apply per course.

Are Universities that are currently self-accrediting required to pay just the Registration Renewal or Registration Renewal and Self-Accreditation?

If a provider is applying for Registration Renewal and is seeking self-accrediting authority, it will need to pay a fee for both the Registration Renewal and Self-Accreditation.

If a provider is already self-accrediting or is not seeking self-accrediting authority, it will only need to pay the Registration Renewal fee.

What is the definition of a ‘nested set’ of courses for the purposes of cost recovery?

For the purposes of cost recovery, a nested set of courses means a set of courses consisting of:

  • one primary course of study and
  • one or more related courses of study.

A ‘related course’ is a course of study:

  • entirely made up of units taken from the primary course study, and
  • offered by the same registered higher education provider.

General information

Will providers have to pay for answers to simple requests to TEQSA?

We will not be charging for answers to simple requests and inquiries. Activities we will be charging for are outlined in the CRIS.

Will there be further consultation?

TEQSA engaged in extensive consultation with the sector about a proposed model for our regulatory fees and charges in 2021. Valuable feedback from the sector has been used to refine the CRIS for implementation from 1 January 2023.

Starting in 2023, TEQSA will review the CRIS annually, and will seek input from the sector as part of this process.

Who should I speak with if I have questions about changes to TEQSA’s fees and charges?

Please refer to our website for comprehensive resources and answers to frequently asked questions. It’s a good idea to bookmark the above page because it will be an online hub for information about our fees and charges.

If the information you are seeking is not currently addressed on our website, please email your enquiry to costrecovery [at] teqsa.gov.au and we will respond promptly.

Why is TEQSA seeking to increase its cost recovery?

The transition to a new fees and charges model from 1 January 2023 will bring TEQSA into line with other regulatory agencies that operate on a cost recovery model in accordance with Australian Government policy.

Access the Australian Government Charging Framework and Cost Recovery Guidelines (AGCRG) to find out more.

How does TEQSA’s new cost recovery model compare to its current partial cost recovery approach?

TEQSA’s current cost recovery model covers about 15 per cent of TEQSA’s regulatory and quality assurance costs.

The new fees and charges model will recover about 90 per cent of the agency’s regulatory and quality assurance costs from 2025.

The transition to a new fees and charges model will bring TEQSA into line with other regulatory agencies that operate on a full cost recovery model in accordance with Australian Government policy.

Can providers speak to a TEQSA representative about cost recovery in relation to their specific circumstances?

In the first instance, please refer to our website for comprehensive resources and answers to frequently asked questions.

If the information you are seeking is not currently addressed on our website, please email your enquiry to costrecovery [at] teqsa.gov.au and we will respond promptly.

With TEQSA increasing its fees and charges, how will the agency account for its activities to the sector?

As a Commonwealth regulatory agency, TEQSA continues to be accountable to the Minister for Education and to the Australian Parliament. TEQSA will also undertake annual reviews of the CRIS, which will give providers the opportunity to provide feedback about the attribution of costs through TEQSA’s fees and charges.

To what extent will TEQSA commit to agreed service levels with the sector given that it is moving towards cost recovery and noting existing challenges with regulatory responses and decision times?

The CRIS has been structured on historical workload data and an assessment of what should be the case for specific regulatory activity. Work will continue to improve TEQSA’s regulatory processing and performance over time. We will continue to engage with higher education providers as part of this work.

Has TEQSA reviewed its own activities and systems to avoid duplication of regulation and to effectively streamline workflows?

Yes. TEQSA adopts a continuous improvement focus on streamlining and refining its regulatory activities.

My question is not covered here, what can I do?

TEQSA will update the FAQs on our website as required. If the answer to your question is not covered here, please send an email to costrecovery [at] teqsa.gov.au and we will respond promptly.

Is TEQSA looking to acquit some provider conditions before the implementation of the CRIS?

TEQSA is currently reviewing active conditions, to identify conditions with expired reporting requirements and determine if these conditions can be revoked before 1 January 2023.

Is there a risk that institutions will be reluctant to voluntarily disclose compliance breaches given there will now be a charge associated with investigations and compliance assessments by TEQSA?

The obligations on providers under the Higher Education Standards Framework (Threshold Standards) 2021 remain unchanged by cost recovery. 

The structure of cost recovery should encourage all providers to be as transparent and proactive as possible in letting TEQSA know about problems.

If a new course application is lodged in 2022, will it incur charges for a substantive assessment which may occur in 2023?

Providers will pay fees based on when a valid application for the accreditation of a course, that complies with all of the relevant requirements in the TEQSA Act, is submitted to TEQSA. Where a provider makes a valid application in 2022, the provider will not be required to pay the fees set out in the CRIS in relation to that application. TEQSA will inform providers as soon as possible after an application is submitted whether the application is valid or whether a new application needs to be made.

Please note, there are requirements that providers must meet for an application to be considered valid and ready for assessment.

Where does the CRIS payment go?

The CRIS payments go to the Commonwealth Consolidated Revenue fund. The monies do not come directly to TEQSA.