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TEQSA independent research policy

Beta
13 October 2017

Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to establish a set of principles for: (1) TEQSA staff wishing to undertake independent research in relation to matters relevant to TEQSA’s functions; (2) responding to requests for TEQSA information by external research organisations and individuals, to be used in the conduct of research; (3) research commissioned by TEQSA to be conducted wholly or in part by a third party.

Scope

This policy relates to independent research other than that conducted by TEQSA staff in the course of their official employment with TEQSA.

Principles

Approval

  1. Independent research proposals and activities that are subject to this policy are required to be approved by the Chief Executive Officer.
  2. The Chief Executive Officer may refer a particular research activity or proposal to the TEQSA Commissioners collectively, including where the Chief Executive Officer considers that the research activity or proposal is of strategic significance.
  3. For the purpose of this policy, the approver of a research activity or proposal will be referred to as ‘the identified TEQSA decision maker’.
  4. In making a decision about approval of a research proposal or activity, the identified TEQSA decision maker will take into account any legal and cost (direct and indirect) implications for the agency.

TEQSA staff wishing to undertake independent research

  1. If a member of TEQSA staff is to begin to undertake or publish research that relates to TEQSA’s functions, or that relates to TEQSA as an agency, this must only be with the explicit approval of the identified TEQSA decision maker.
  2. In most cases, it will only be appropriate for TEQSA employees to undertake research that relates to TEQSA’s functions, or to TEQSA as an agency, where this research is under the direction or control of TEQSA.
  3. Research related to TEQSA’s functions includes research on the subject of higher education and research on the subject of higher education regulation.
  4. In considering whether to approve a research proposal or publication of a piece of research, the decision maker will consider TEQSA’s legal obligations as well as any potential the research may have, in its conduct or publication, to affect TEQSA’s effective performance of its functions.
  5. TEQSA employees’ obligations under the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency Act 2011 (the TEQSA Act), the Public Service Act 1999 (the Public Service Act), the Crimes Act 1914 (the Crimes Act) and the Privacy Act 1988 (the Privacy Act) apply to any research that TEQSA employees may undertake. For example:
    1. TEQSA employees should not publish research that fails to uphold the integrity and reputation of TEQSA or the APS
    2. TEQSA employees must comply with the requirements of the Privacy Act in relation to the handling of personal information collected or kept by the employee by virtue of their employment with TEQSA
    3. any research undertaken by a TEQSA employee must be consistent with obligations of confidentiality imposed under the APS Code of Conduct, the Crimes Act and the TEQSA Act.
  6. Non-disclosure obligations under the Public Service Act, the Crimes Act and the TEQSA Act continue after a person’s employment with TEQSA or the APS ceases.

External requests for use of TEQSA information

  1. “TEQSA information” means information held or obtained by TEQSA for the purpose of, or as a result of, TEQSA acquitting its responsibilities under the TEQSA Act.
  2. In general, TEQSA will not provide TEQSA information in response to a request where:
    1. disclosure is inconsistent with TEQSA’s legal obligations or where the information requested is otherwise confidential
    2. the information requested is not held by TEQSA
    3. the information requested is held by TEQSA, but TEQSA is not the owner of the information or is not the most direct source of the information (for example, quantitative information reported by higher education providers through HEIMS)
    4. the information is already in the public domain and TEQSA is no better able to collate or compile that information than would be a member of the public.
  3. TEQSA will not, unless it is legally obliged to do so, release information in a way that would impair TEQSA’s ability to effectively perform its functions or which would be inconsistent with its privacy and confidentiality obligations.
  4. Notwithstanding the above, where TEQSA does agree to release TEQSA information for the purpose of independent research, it will be released only with the prior consent of the identified TEQSA decision maker. In making a decision in relation to this consent, the decision maker will consider:
    1. whether the researcher must attribute any information provided by TEQSA
    2. how the researcher may otherwise refer to TEQSA
    3. whether TEQSA has any editorial control or right of review and if so how this will be implemented, and
    4. whether the content provided by TEQSA is subject to any intellectual property arrangements.

TEQSA-commissioned research and TEQSA-partnered research

  1. TEQSA may from time to time commission a piece of research to be conducted by a third party, and that research may be published by TEQSA with acknowledgement of third party authorship, depending upon the nature of the agreement between TEQSA and the researcher.
  2. In all cases where TEQSA commissions a piece of research to be conducted by a third party, the contract formalising the arrangement will be consistent with TEQSA’s intellectual property management policy, and will ensure that publication of any material developed under such an arrangement will be at TEQSA’s discretion, and any material that is not published by TEQSA will not be made public without the explicit approval of the identified TEQSA decision maker.
  3. TEQSA may from time to time enter into a research partnership arrangement with an external researcher or organisation. No research partnership arrangement will be established without the explicit approval of the identified TEQSA decision maker.
  4. In all cases where TEQSA enters into a research partnership arrangement with an external researcher or organisation, the partnership will be formalised and documented including terms that:
    1. ensure TEQSA retains the authority to cease a partnership at its absolute discretion
    2. ensure TEQSA retains the authority to decide whether research findings are published and in what form, including authority to withhold publication in the case where the partner wishes to publish, and including where TEQSA has chosen to cease the partnership.

Contact

Any enquiries about TEQSA’s approach to independent research can be directed to: enquiries [at] teqsa.gov.au

Document information

Title

TEQSA independent research policy

Category

Regulatory policy

Audience

Staff

Policy owner

Director, Engagement

Version

1

Effective date

13 October 2017

Review date

13 October 2020

Approval

Approved by the TEQSA Commission on 13 October 2017