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TEQSA international engagement strategy

2016-2020 (2018 Update)
23 August 2018

Foreword

TEQSA plays a vital role in the global quality assurance and regulation of Australia’s higher education sector – protecting the reputation of this growing, vibrant sector, while safeguarding the student experience.

Australia is one of the most popular destinations for international students, attracting around 620,000 of the world’s international students. This makes it our third largest export and therefore an area of crucial national importance, as signalled by the Commonwealth Government’s National Strategy for International Education 2025. The largest single group of international students are those in higher education.

We continue to work hard to support and enhance Australia’s international competitiveness in higher education regardless of location of delivery, as defined in the objects of the TEQSA Act. TEQSA’s International Engagement Strategy 2016- 2020 is a four-year plan which underpins a key objective in our Corporate Plan and is aligned with the National Strategy.

The principal objectives of TEQSA’s International Engagement Strategy are:

  • quality assuring Australian transnational higher education
  • supporting Australian transnational higher education activity and innovation
  • building networks and collaborating to ensure quality.

To date, we have made significant progress against these objectives and I am pleased to present this updated version of the strategy, outlining some of our key achievements since 2016. Moving forward, we will continue to promote the fundamental role, importance and effectiveness of Australia’s quality assurance and regulatory system, while helping to maintain the high quality reputation of Australian higher education – both here and overseas.

Australia’s strong reputation in the global higher education sector – as well as our arrangements for quality assurance and regulation – help us to work closely with  partner agencies in other countries to facilitate transnational arrangements and promote confidence in the quality of provision. This network of partnerships allows for cooperation and sharing of information about higher education providers, and aims to minimise regulatory burden by avoiding duplication.

We look forward to continuing to work with the Australian and international higher education sector in the achievement of the objectives of our International Engagement Strategy.

Anthony McClaran
Chief Executive Officer

1. Introduction

TEQSA operates in a global context to build and support:

  • the quality and reputation of Australian transnational higher education
  • Australian transnational higher education activity and innovation
  • the promotion of collaborative networks of Quality Assurance Agencies

In order to protect the reputation of Australian higher education and the interests of students, TEQSA has progressively broadened its consideration of quality assurance and strives to develop effective and innovative approaches to the quality assurance of transnational higher education.

TEQSA’s role is to assure that quality standards (the Higher Education Standards Framework (Threshold Standards) 2015) are being met by all registered higher education providers offering Australian qualifications. The objects of the TEQSA Act call for TEQSA to protect and enhance Australia’s international competitiveness in higher education, regardless of the location of delivery. This includes any Australian higher education provider’s transnational higher education activities, which result in an Australian qualification being awarded.

TEQSA’s International Engagement Strategy is aligned with the key objective in TEQSA’s Corporate Plan, and we aim to:

Promote the role, importance and effectiveness of Australia’s quality assurance and regulatory system in maintaining the reputation of Australian higher education nationally and internationally.

In supporting this objective, TEQSA will:

Strengthen and develop the quality assurance of, and support for, Australian transnational higher education by enhancing TEQSA’s network of key overseas regulatory agencies.

It is anticipated that the International Engagement Strategy will evolve further as TEQSA deepens its expertise in transnational higher education regulation.

Map of the world showing countries with which TEQSA has a MoU.

Image: TEQSA’s MOCs

2. Context

The Australian Government is committed to growing the capacity and economic sustainability of Australian higher education’s transnational activities. In recent years the Commonwealth Government has been successful in signing free trade agreements to further underpin Australia’s economic prosperity, including those with China, Korea and Japan. These agreements play a key role in encouraging access to new markets and regions for Australian higher education providers.

In 2016, the Commonwealth Government published its first National Strategy for International Education 2025. Goal Three of this strategy states:

Goal 3: Providing effective quality assurance and regulation

Australia will support our education system with a robust quality assurance and regulatory environment with a focus on continual improvement.

Action 3.1:
Maintaining strong quality assurance systems

Action 3.2:
Ensuring strong student protection

Further, the National Strategy also includes benchmarking against international standards and the quality of the student experience.

The National Strategy acknowledges the need for strong quality assurance of Australian higher education to ensure the quality of the student experience and the reputation of the sector as a whole. As students become more mobile it is important to maintain the quality and equivalence of their overall educational experience, within the diversity of international settings. As more and more students access higher education through diverse modes of delivery in different places around the world, it will be necessary for the quality and standards of Australian higher education to be monitored and continuously improved to maintain currency in a rapidly changing environment.

Various Australian state governments are also producing their own transnational education sector strategies to attract expanding numbers of higher education students and to develop their own approaches to an Australian higher education experience, either onshore or globally. TEQSA will work with all government and peak bodies involved in the promotion of Australian higher education.

As Australia’s national higher education quality assurance and regulatory agency, TEQSA is in a strong position to focus on all aspects of the quality of Australian transnational higher education. The following strategy highlights TEQSA’s resource commitments over the 2016-2020 period.

3. TEQSA’s International Engagement Strategy

TEQSA’s International Engagement Strategy 2016-2020 encompasses the following foundational objectives:

  • quality assuring Australian transnational higher education
  • supporting Australian transnational higher education activity and innovation
  • building networks and collaborating to ensure quality.

3.1 Quality Assurance of Australian Transnational Higher Education

TEQSA’s role, as defined in the TEQSA Act, is to protect and quality assure Australian higher education.

Over the 2016-2020 period, TEQSA will undertake the following activities:

Activities

Actions

Measures

  • Develop and maintain international profiles in conjunction with higher education providers
  • Profiles completed and validated through sector consultation and regularly updated
  • Details of international campuses on TEQSA’s National Register
  • International profiles are used by TEQSA staff in assessments of provider’s transnational higher education
  • Establish a comprehensive data profile of every Australian higher education provider’s transnational higher education footprint
  • International transnational data is validated with the Department of Education, providers and international quality assurance agencies
  • Details of international campuses on National Register
  • International profiles are used by TEQSA staff in assessments of provider’s transnational higher education
  • Quality assure every Australian higher education provider’s ability to deliver equivalence of student experience and outcomes in all transnational higher education activities
  • Effective tools and processes developed for staff conducting provider visits offshore
  • Visits to provider transnational higher education campuses conducted by TEQSA in conjunction with partner quality assurance agencies
  • Working relationships with partner quality assurance agencies
  • Joint approaches to assessment of transnational higher education in-country is piloted with partner quality assurance agencies

Case Study 1

OBJECTIVE: Quality Assurance of Australian Transnational Higher Education

Activity – Quality assure every Australian higher education provider’s ability to deliver equivalence of student experience and outcomes in all transnational higher education activities.

In November 2017, TEQSA and the Hong Kong Council for Accreditation and Vocational Qualifications (HKCAAVQ) conducted a joint review of an Australian provider’s courses being delivered in Hong Kong. This represented a pilot project aimed at determining the equivalency of the accreditation processes between our two authorities.

The joint project enabled us to:

  • better understand the quality assurance processes of HKCAAVQ for Australian higher education providers offering degree programs in conjunction with Hong Kong providers
  • observe a site visit (off-shore, third-party arrangement) relevant to the provider’s assessment for renewal of registration
  • continue to learn from international counterparts to assist TEQSA in its ongoing commitment to continuous improvement.

TEQSA’s Dr Helen Gniel (front row, second from left) visiting HKCAAVQ as part of staff and information exchange program

Photo: TEQSA’s Dr Helen Gniel (front row, second from left) visits HKCAAVQ as part of staff and information exchange program

3.2 Supporting Australian Transnational Higher Education Activity and Innovation

TEQSA is responsible for the quality assurance of Australian higher education globally. Innovative approaches to higher education reflects the diversity of Australian higher education providers. Over the 2016-2020 period, TEQSA will continue to develop its quality assurance processes to support providers and students by undertaking the following activities:

Activities

Actions

Measures

  • Support Australian providers to quality assure their transnational higher education activities
  • Further guidance materials developed by TEQSA to support a range of transnational higher education activities
  • Involvement in discussions at all levels of government
  • Tools developed to support transnational activity
  • Broaden understanding of transnational higher education and quality assurance among TEQSA staff
  • Work with partner quality assurance agencies to reduce regulatory burden on transnational higher education activity
  • Develop approaches to the quality assurance of new and innovative course and learning options
  • Further guidance materials progressively developed by TEQSA to support a range of transnational higher education quality assurance activities
  • Guidance materials and toolkits developed and piloted
  • Guidance for staff developed and piloted
  • Build approaches to joint assessment with quality assurance agencies globally to promote streamlined approaches to quality assurance and regulation
  • Participation in Quality Beyond Boundaries Group (QBBG)
  • Re-signing of MOCs based on QACHE Principles of Cross Border Higher Education
  • Development of significant working relationships, and building trust and confidence with international quality assurance agencies
  • Active participation with other international quality assurance agencies in streamlining transnational regulation and quality assurance activities to reduce regulatory burden on providers
  • Host successful QBBG meeting in Melbourne (October 2016)
  • Regular communication and policy and quality assurance discussions with MOC partners
  • Projects and activities with partner quality assurance agencies undertaken
  • Lead in pilots of streamlining and joint quality assurance activities with other quality assurance agencies aiming to reduce regulatory burden on providers

Case Study 2

OBJECTIVE: Supporting Australian Transnational Higher Education Activity and Innovation

Activity – Develop approaches to the quality assurance of new and innovative course and learning options.

In mid-2016, TEQSA, on behalf of the Department of Education and Training, managed a project focused on the quality assurance of online higher education for the APEC region.

The project deliverables included the development of a discussion paper and toolkit, a workshop on the toolkit with representatives from a range of APEC economies, followed by a limited number of validations in Indonesia, Vietnam and Mexico. After these activities, the paper and toolkit were finalised in 2017.

Photo showing Anthony McClaran, CEO (left), leads discussions with APEC economy representatives at a workshop in Bali, November 2016.

Photo: Anthony McClaran, CEO (left), leads discussions with APEC economy representatives at a workshop in Bali, November 2016.

Case Study 3

OBJECTIVE: Supporting Australian Transnational Higher Education Activity and Innovation

Activity – Build approaches to joint assessment with quality assurance agencies globally to promote streamlined approaches to quality assurance and regulation.

TEQSA is a founding member of the Quality Beyond Boundaries Group (QBBG), a network of international quality assurance agencies that was formed in 2014 to address the growing quality assurance challenges and opportunities associated with transnational higher education.

QBBG meets annually, and in 2016 TEQSA hosted the forum in Melbourne. Members continued their strong commitment to information sharing in relation to higher education quality assurance developments within their respective jurisdictions.

Collaboration continued at the 2017 meeting held in Hong Kong, where TEQSA was pleased to contribute to the discussions on the quality assurance of online learning, combatting contract cheating and increasing student engagement.

Photo showing members of the QBBG visiting from Dubai, Singapore, United Kingdom, United States of America and Hong Kong, October 2016.

3.3 Build Networks and Collaborate to Ensure Quality

TEQSA staff are well positioned to share their expertise in the regulation and quality assurance of higher education. Dissemination of good practice and exploration of global approaches to quality assurance will strengthen relevant quality frameworks for Australian higher education.
 

Activities Actions Measures
  • Lead global discussions and debate about quality assurance, regulation and risk in higher education

TEQSA staff involved in ongoing policy discussions and debate with:

  • CHEA/INQAAHE/APQN/QBBG
  • IEAA/AIEC
  • APEC
  • International quality assurance agencies
  • Australian Government bodies
  • Department of Education and Training international staff including in country education counsellors
  • Liaison with DFAT and other relevant Government departments and agencies
  • Dissemination of information regarding the introduction of the new Higher Education Standards (1 January 2017)
  • Staff exchanges with partner quality assurance agencies
  • Invitations and presentations at international higher education forums
  • Advice to Australian Department of Education and Training staff and in country education counsellors
  • Representation on, and engagement with, peak bodies and industry forums
  • Leadership, management and participation in a range of global quality assurance projects
  • Pilot of streamlined regulatory approaches to the quality assurance of Australian higher education providers operating in a global higher education environment
  • Hosting delegation visits of the international higher education community
  • Staff participation in transnational conferences and forums
  • Presentations and discussions with international quality assurance agencies and other interested international bodies.
  • Active participation in global quality assurance capability building activities
  • Undertake a self-assessment of TEQSA performance against the INQAAHE Guidelines of Good Practice
  • Lead APEC Quality Assurance in Online Learning project
  • Regular contributions to conferences, forums, seminars and working groups on quality assurance of global and Australian higher education
  • Regular presentations to staff on international activities via TEQSA’s Learning Committee
  • Build capacity through staff exchange and exposure to international quality assurance agencies’ activities
  • Recognition under INQAAHE’s Guidelines of Good Practice
  • Strengthen relations with international quality assurance agencies and bodies
  • Develop and deepen relationships with partner quality assurance agencies in countries where Australian higher education providers are operating
  • TEQSA to remain a committed and leading member of INQAAHE, APQN and CHEA/CIQG
  • Number of MOCs active and utilised
  • Information sharing and discussions held about providers operating across jurisdictions
  • Staff exchange placements undertaken
  • Participation with international quality assurance agencies on a range of activities, including regular teleconferences and meetings and joint projects
  • Signatory to CHEA/ CIQG Memorandum of Affiliation

Case Study 4

OBJECTIVE: Build Networks and Collaborate to Ensure Quality

Activity – Active participation in global quality assurance capability building activities.

In 2017 we were invited to participate in the Indonesian Ministry of Research, Technology and Higher Education (RISKTEK DIKTI) seminar and workshop on outcomes based internal quality assurance with representatives from Indonesian universities.

The seminar and workshop, Strengthening the Outcome-Based Internal Quality Assurance System, allowed participants to share the challenges of implementing internal quality assurance processes and hear about a number of good practices across the Asia-Pacific Region.

TEQSA has a strong relationship with RISKTEK DIKTI and engages regularly with colleagues in the Directorate of General Learning and Student Affairs.

Photo showing Dr Karen Treloar, Director, Engagement (second from right), presented as part of the RISKTEK DIKTI workshop.

Photo: Dr Karen Treloar, Director, Engagement (second from right), presented as part of the RISKTEK DIKTI workshop.

Case Study 5

OBJECTIVE: Build Networks and Collaborate to Ensure Quality

Activity – Lead global discussion and debate about quality assurance, regulation and risk in higher education.

The AIEC is an annual opportunity for international education practitioners, teaching staff, researchers, policy makers and other stakeholders to learn about major industry trends, and to network with Australian and international colleagues.

We are pleased to have been a part of the AIEC since 2016, presenting on topics including transnational regulation and quality assurance, quality assurance of online learning, and quality assurance in a rapidly changing world, which looked at the key international dimensions of Australia’s quality assurance frameworks.

 

4. TEQSA’s International Quality Assurance Staff Exchange Program

A key element of our MOC agreements with international quality assurance agencies is to provide developmental opportunities for staff of both parties. To assist in achieving this we have developed a staff exchange program, which identifies and facilitates opportunities for staff exchange between TEQSA and our international partners, to share best practice and further strengthen relationships and engagement.

Each attachment at TEQSA is tailored to the visitor’s interests and provides opportunities to meet with staff from across TEQSA and can include visits to higher education providers.

We also value the professional development and relationship building opportunities for TEQSA staff that an exchange attachment to an overseas quality assurance agency provides.

For more information on the International Quality Assurance Staff Exchange Program, please contact enquiries [at] teqsa.gov.au

Case Study 6

OBJECTIVE: Build Networks and Collaborate to Ensure Quality

Activity – Active participation in global quality assurance capability building activities.

In 2017, TEQSA launched the International Quality Assurance Agency Staff Exchange Program that invites international visitors to undertake a week long attachment at TEQSA. Since then we have been pleased to have welcomed colleagues from China, Japan, Singapore, New Zealand, Malaysia and Thailand as part of the program.

The programs included opportunities for visitors to meet with TEQSA staff and included visits to Australian higher education providers.

We have also sent our staff to Japan, New Zealand, Singapore and Hong Kong to learn more about international approaches to quality assurance.

5. International Engagement

TEQSA has engaged with the following organisations, hosting visiting delegations or as part of the International Quality Assurance Agency Staff Exchange Program.

Visiting delegations

Organisation

Date

Ministry of Education, Republic of Korea

February 2017

Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia

April 2017

China Education Association for International Exchange

August 2017

Vietnam National University

August 2017

Office of the Higher Education Commission, Thailand

September 2017

Ministry of Education, People’s Republic of China

October 2017

Ministry of Education, People’s Republic of China

November 2017

Beijing Academy of Educational Sciences, Higher Education Center, China

November 2017

Council for Higher Education, Sweden

November 2017

Accreditation Council of Indonesian National Accreditation Agency for Higher Education

December 2017

Ministry of Education and Training, Vietnam

January 2018

Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Japan

March 2018

Vietnam International Education Cooperation Department

March 2018

Department of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology, Papua New Guinea

May 2018

Department of Training, Ministry of Public Security, Vietnam

May 2018

Ministry of Education, People’s Republic of China

May 2018

Commission on Higher Education, Philippines

June 2018

Higher Education Evaluation and Accreditation Council of Taiwan

July 2018

Office of the Higher Education Commission, Thailand

August 2018

Staff Exchange Attachments

Organisation

Date

National Institution for Academic Degrees and Quality Enhancement of Higher Education, Japan

February 2017

Chinese Service Center for Scholarly Exchange

August 2017

Malaysian Qualifications Agency

September 2017

National Institution for Academic Degrees and Quality Enhancement of Higher Education, Japan

November 2017

Hong Kong Council for Accreditation of Academic and Vocational Qualifications

November 2017

New Zealand Qualifications Authority

November 2017

Committee for Private Education/Skills Future Singapore

November 2017

Office of the Higher Education Commission, Thailand

August 2018

National Institution for Academic Degrees and Quality Enhancement of Higher Education, Japan

October 2018

6. Report and Review

The International Engagement Strategy 2016-2020 will be reviewed annually over the life of the plan, and a report presented to TEQSA’s Senior Management Team for endorsement. The annual review will then be presented to the Commission for final endorsement.

7. Acronyms

  • AIEC: Australian International Education Conference
  • APEC: Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation
  • APQN: Asia-Pacific Quality Network
  • CHEA: Council for Higher Education Accreditation
  • CIQG: CHEA International Quality Group
  • DFAT: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
  • IEAA: International Education Association of Australia
  • INQAAHE: International Network for Quality Assurance Agencies in Higher Education
  • MOC: Memorandum of Cooperation
  • QACHE: Quality Assurance of Cross-Border Higher Education
  • QBBG: Quality Beyond Boundaries Group​​​​​​​
  • TEQSA: Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency