Withdrawing a course/teachout

The Australian Government’s COVID-19 pandemic higher education relief package included TEQSA application fee waivers and the introduction of short courses. As a result, TEQSA has received an unprecedented number of applications in both registration and course accreditation and renewals. TEQSA advises that this is likely to lead to extended application processing times, including well into 2022.

TEQSA has noted an increase in the number of applications that include evidence that is incomplete or contains errors. Wherever feasible, TEQSA will work with providers to address minor deficiencies during the course of an assessment. However, providers are advised that TEQSA may require incomplete and/or poor quality applications to be withdrawn and resubmitted as new applications with correct evidence, which will restart application processing timeframes.

What are teach out arrangements?

Teach out is when a provider has decided to phase out a course that still has students enrolled. The course continues to be accredited but no new students can be enrolled, and arrangements are in place to ensure all existing students can either complete the course of study, or transition to a mutually agreed course at no disadvantage.

Under the Higher Education Standards Framework (Threshold Standards) 2021 (HES Framework), providers need to have effective teach out or course transition plans in place as courses can be placed in teach out by either TEQSA or the provider. Providers cannot offer an unaccredited course of study.

Provider initiated teach out

Providers can advise TEQSA that a course is in teach out mode when:

  • They do not intend to renew the accreditation of a course of study, and there will be no students enrolled at the due date for renewal of course accreditation as they will have completed or transitioned out.
  • They do not intend to continue delivering a course of study, however there will be students enrolled past the current course accreditation renewal date, that will either complete or transition out during a teach out period. In this scenario the provider must apply for the accreditation of the course to be renewed, noting that it is being taught out.

Teach out arrangements may include students enrolled in a course that the provider plans to replace with a new course which students will transition in to (subject to a TEQSA decision to accredit the new course).

TEQSA initiated teach out

A course may enter teach out mode based on a TEQSA decision:

  • to not renew accreditation of a course while students are currently enrolled
  • to cancel the accreditation of a course while students are currently enrolled
  • to not accredit a course intended to replace an existing course that a provider has not sought to reaccredit.

In this scenario, TEQSA will follow a risk-based approach and consider the interests of the enrolled students in determining the date on which accreditation ends.

Accreditation for courses in teach out mode

A course that is due to expire, but still in teach out mode, is required to be accredited until all students have either completed or transitioned out. Accreditation renewal for a course in teach out mode cannot exceed two years.

Because of the special circumstances that apply to teach out courses, we have introduced a shortened accreditation renewal process and a reduced fee. The evidence requirements for the application will be reduced in view of the teach out status.

This minimises the regulatory burden on providers while ensuring they continue to protect the interests of students enrolled in their courses.

Maintenance of standards

Courses delivered in teach out mode are still required to meet the HES Framework. The teach out re-accreditation process requires providers to ensure course resourcing, course outcomes and overall service and support to students are not reduced as part of any teach out process.

Information requirements

TEQSA only requires information relevant to specific circumstances of teach out. We do not request information on admission standards and processes, as no new enrolments are permitted. The re-accreditation process focuses on:

  • course outcomes
  • course transition and closure arrangements
  • course articulation
  • course resourcing, information and student support arrangements
  • certification documentation.

National Register of higher education providers

Where a provider has advised TEQSA that they do not intend to renew the accreditation of a course of study, or the renewal of accreditation has been approved in teach out mode, the National Register of higher education providers will include a comment to state Course accredited to [Effective To Date] to facilitate teach out. No further enrolment of students will be permitted’.

Any accreditation of a course in teach out mode may be subject to a condition or an enforceable undertaking in regard to the enrolment of new students.

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