Application guide for renewal of registration for existing providers
This guide reflects TEQSA’s current process for all registered higher education providers to follow when applying for renewal of registration.
We are undertaking a review of our regulatory risk framework that will inform the evolution of TEQSA’s regulatory approach. This will ensure regulatory efforts are aligned with the most critical risks that require regulatory intervention, allowing TEQSA to most effectively prioritise our resources and regulatory activities. We will engage in wider consultation with the sector about a revised regulatory risk framework in 2024.
The best way to stay informed about consultation opportunities and updates about our approach to regulatory risk is to sign up to our monthly TEQSA e-News update.
This guide will be updated as we further align our regulatory processes and operations to a revised regulatory risk framework.
|Stage 1||CONFIRM EVIDENCE REQUIREMENTS
TEQSA advises the provider of the scope of assessment and evidence requirements approximately 6 months before the application is due to be submitted.
|Stage 2||PROVIDER SUBMITS APPLICATION
This must be in the approved format and accompanied by the required evidence and the relevant application fee.
|Stage 3||ASSESSMENT BY TEQSA
TEQSA’s assessment team assesses the application and documents their findings. This stage may involve TEQSA making additional requests for information.
|Stage 4||FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
The assessment team makes recommendations to the TEQSA Commission. Where the recommendations involve an adverse outcome, TEQSA will send the draft findings to the applicant for comment.
|Stage 5||APPLICATION IS DECIDED BY THE TEQSA COMMISSION
TEQSA notifies the applicant of the outcome.
|Stage 6||DECISION IS PUBLISHED ON THE NATIONAL REGISTER|
Stage 1: Confirm evidence requirements
Applications for renewal of registration must be submitted to TEQSA at least 180 calendar days before the current registration period is due to end. Approximately 6 months before that date, TEQSA’s re-registration assessment team will undertake a scoping assessment.
TEQSA will make decisions about the scope of the information we require to be submitted with the application in the context of the Core Plus model for regulatory assessments policy.
The re-registration assessment team reviews your regulatory history, the outcomes of TEQSA’s annual risk assessment, disclosures of material changes made to TEQSA, and any other relevant information that has come to our attention since your last registration (including information from other government agencies and professional accreditation bodies).
At a minimum, all applicants will be required to submit evidence against a set of core Standards in the Higher Education Standards Framework (Threshold Standards) 2021. Some applicants will also be asked to address additional provisions (Core Plus) of the Threshold Standards other than the core Standards, according to risks and circumstances that TEQSA has identified.
TEQSA will advise you in writing as to the outcome of the scoping assessment. We will advise you whether we require evidence against core Standards only or if we have determined it is necessary to assess your application against additional provisions (Core Plus) of the Threshold Standards. In the event of the latter, we will provide the reasons for that decision.
There are 2 levels of regulatory effort aligned with TEQSA’s approach to assessing re-registration applications and this is reflected in the tiered fee structure. The application fee you will be charged is based on TEQSA’s determination as to whether the scope of the assessment of your application will be core Standards or Core Plus. Refer to TEQSA’s Cost Recovery Implementation Statement for more information about our approach.
Core assessment scope
The core Standards for the re-registration assessment are set out in Table 1 of the Core Plus model for regulatory assessments policy. These principally relate to a provider’s obligations under Domain 6, as these encompass the overarching processes for overseeing and monitoring the achievement of all the other standards. TEQSA expects the key outputs of a provider’s institutional quality assurance systems for all aspects of its operations are overseen by its peak governing bodies through cycles of reporting and review. In particular, TEQSA will focus on the effectiveness of governance oversight of course review processes, encompassing the approval of new courses and the review and improvement processes for existing courses.
Supporting material is available on our website that summarises the intent of each domain of the Threshold Standards and outlines key aspects of TEQSA’s approach to regulation: Contextual overview of the Threshold Standards.
TEQSA has also published corporate governance and academic governance guidance notes that outline what we will look for when making regulatory decisions against these aspects of the Threshold Standards. We note the definitive instruments for regulatory purposes remain the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency Act 2011 (TEQSA Act) and the Threshold Standards.
TEQSA has recently revised its approach to the evidence it requires against core Standards. Our intention is to reduce the required volume and scope of evidence, such that a detailed and comprehensive self-assurance report, together with detailed and comprehensive independent governance reviews, will be sufficient to demonstrate compliance with the core Standards.
The extent to which TEQSA can rely on this evidence to decide the re-registration application without seeking further information will depend on the calibre of the evidence you provide. This includes whether the governance review report(s) are sufficiently independent, comprehensive and contemporaneous, and the inclusion of evidence (in the form of a detailed action plan) that demonstrates the governing body’s responsiveness to recommendations made in the governance review(s).
The self-assurance report is a written submission of no more than 10 pages. It focuses on the function of a provider’s governing bodies, noting their fundamental importance to the provider’s operations, including their accountability for the quality of education delivered, their compliance with the Threshold Standards and other legislative requirements.
TEQSA is asking providers to demonstrate the effectiveness of their self-assurance processes as an integral part of their day-to-day operations.
We appreciate the nature of risk and the institutional responses to manage risk may vary for each provider, according to the context in which it is operating.
The self-assurance report should:
- describe reporting and review activities and outputs that are part of regular, internal governance and quality assurance cycles for the provider, including the boards’ systems for delegating authority and for reviewing those delegations
- demonstrate how the provider is operating effectively and sustainably (as set out in Standard 6.2.1)
- show the provider’s corporate governing body is sufficiently well-informed to identify and address material risks to its viability, sustainability and educational offerings (Standard 6.1.3-4)
- describe the provider’s institutional framework and processes for academic governance (Standard 6.3) and provide evidence of how its peak body assures itself of the effectiveness of its processes for course approval (Standard 5.1.2) and its ongoing monitoring, review and improvement activities that ensure the quality of education being delivered (Standard 5.3.7)
- synthesise and refer to supporting evidence that demonstrates the claims put forward
- be accompanied by an index listing the supporting evidence that the applicant would be able to provide to TEQSA on request.
We ask that documents attached as supporting evidence against core Standards are limited to the following:
- copy of the most recent independent corporate and academic governance review(s)
- evidence demonstrating the provider’s response to the review(s), including:
- evidence of the governing body’s consideration of the recommendations of the reviews
- detailed action plan/s demonstrating appropriate resourcing and accountabilities to support the implementation of improvements arising from review recommendations
- the most recent progress reports against those action plans
- evidence that the governing body has ongoing oversight of the action plan.
The Threshold Standards require all providers to undertake periodic independent reviews of the effectiveness of both the governing body and its academic governance processes. The scope of the governance review should include the extent to which the governing bodies fulfil the range of responsibilities outlined in Standards 6.1.3, 6.2 and 6.3.
TEQSA encourages providers undertaking the governance reviews to view them primarily as an opportunity to have an independent person or persons of significant expertise evaluate the effectiveness of their own governance and mechanisms for self-assurance, and to support the continuous improvement of their organisation.
A review of this nature will provide much better institutional value than a review that is commissioned and conducted for more narrow purposes, such as to produce a report to be submitted with a TEQSA application.
An external review of governance is an important exercise in testing both the operation of governance mechanisms and the consideration of previous perspectives that may have been sought by a provider. In this regard TEQSA expects careful reflection on the scope of the reviews and the qualifications and experience of those undertaking the reviews. We particularly emphasise the value of seeking diverse perspectives from a range of external reviewers.
TEQSA recommends the independent reviews are undertaken in the second half of a provider’s registration period. This ensures the reviews can be relied upon to provide a contemporary evaluation of the effectiveness of governance processes when submitted as evidence for renewal of registration. We encourage providers to consider TEQSA’s guidance to providers about engaging an independent expert to undertake a review.
Planning reviews to occur well in advance of the re-registration application will enable you to provide evidence demonstrating the implementation of actions and improvements in response to the review.
TEQSA expects the evidence submitted with the renewal of registration application will also include the provider’s consideration and response to the findings and recommendations of the reviews. This typically takes the form of a detailed action plan that sets out actions, timeframes and accountabilities.
In considering governance reviews in the context of a re-registration assessment, we look for the following characteristics:
- have an independent perspective
- are competent to undertake the review including having relevant qualifications, experience and expertise.
- make findings against the governance standards (Domain 6) of the Threshold Standards
- are based on sufficient scope and quality of evidence
- take an evaluative approach, addressing strengths, opportunities for improvement and key risks
- where practicable, provide an opinion on the provider’s improvement plans, capacity and progress.
Wherever the governance review report(s) cover the full scope of the Threshold Standards requirements for corporate governance, corporate monitoring and accountability and academic governance, TEQSA will not need to seek additional evidence on these areas. Conversely, if some of these areas are not covered in the external reviewer’s report, we may need to seek additional information and evidence.
Extension of assessment scope - Standards
In addition to the above requirements, TEQSA may decide it is necessary for an applicant to address provisions other than the core Standards. The reasons for doing so may include:
- if the most recent TEQSA risk assessment includes a high rating for risk to students and/or risk to financial position
- a significant issue has been raised in your regulatory history in the most recent registration period, for example, an application for accreditation of a course has been rejected, TEQSA has imposed conditions, you have been required to undergo formal reporting, or other sanctions have been applied
- TEQSA has identified a significant issue or event involving the provider that broadens the scope of its assessment and/or increases the complexity.
TEQSA will specify the additional evidence we require for these applications when we provide the confirmed evidence table following the scoping process.
Research requirements for universities
All applications by higher education providers to be registered as an Australian university will be assessed against the research standards, as these are fundamental to the status of this category.
TEQSA will ask all universities to provide evidence describing their governing body’s oversight of research quality, having regard to the standard of research set out in B1.3.16-19 of the Threshold Standards. Where relevant, this may involve a university addressing its preparedness to meet research standards in the future, noting the transitional arrangements for research requirements for providers registered in this category that are set out in B1.3.16-19 and in B3.2. We provide further guidance on this topic on our website: Research requirements for universities.
Where possible, TEQSA will seek to concurrently assess applications for re-registration at the same time as renewal of course accreditation.
We also encourage providers who are considering making an application for self-accrediting authority (SAA) to submit their application concurrently with their re-registration application, where this is practicable. Significant parts of the evidence provided in a renewal of registration application, particularly those parts relating to academic governance and quality assurance processes, are relevant to the SAA criteria. As such, submitting the SAA and registration applications concurrently involves a reduced application fee compared to making these applications separately. It may also reduce the time spent preparing these applications.
Our application guide for self-accrediting authority sets out the process for applying for SAA and provides contextual information about TEQSA’s assessment of these applications.
Other regulatory processes such as an application to change provider category may also be considered concurrently with re-registration. We strongly encourage providers to contact their TEQSA case manager as early as possible to discuss the best way of packaging applications for concurrent assessment.
Stage 2: Applying to TEQSA
Submitting your application
Section 35 of the TEQSA Act requires that an application for renewal of registration is to be made in the approved format, including any information, documents and assistance that TEQSA requests.
The TEQSA Act also requires that the application be accompanied by the relevant fee and be submitted to TEQSA at least 180 calendar days before the current registration period is due to end. If you cannot meet this timeframe, you should contact TEQSA as early as possible before the 180-day period. Any decision to shorten the 180-day period is made on a case-by-case basis and is at TEQSA’s discretion.
The re-registration application form is in the provider portal. Please visit our website for more information about accessing and submitting an application using the TEQSA provider portal.
We expect that most of the evidence you are referencing will be existing documents that have been produced and used for internal purposes. We encourage you to use URLs and hyperlinks for information that TEQSA can access from your website. If you are referencing documents that you have already submitted to TEQSA, please identify where this is the case. It will generally be unnecessary to submit these documents again. Please use the naming conventions described in TEQSA’s guidance note on naming conventions for evidence.
When your application is ready, submit it to TEQSA via the provider portal. Be sure to include:
- all required information and evidence
- the completed Confirmed Evidence Table for Renewal of Registration, updated by you with the document titles/URL details for the evidence provided in the online form
- a signed declaration.
Providing false or misleading information in an application is a serious offence under the TEQSA Act.
Payment of assessment fees
After you submit your application, you will receive an invoice as final confirmation of your application and request for payment. TEQSA does not have an online payment facility.
The application fee for a renewal of registration will depend on TEQSA’s determination as to whether your assessment will be against core Standards only, or whether you have also been required to address provisions of the Threshold Standards other than the core Standards (Core Plus). TEQSA will have advised you of our determination in this regard at the time you were advised of the scope of evidence to be submitted with your application (Stage 1).
Your application is considered valid when you have used the approved application form and paid the application fee specified on the invoice. TEQSA will start assessing your application after it has been submitted and the fee has been paid.
Application fees do not attract GST. TEQSA’s ABN is 50 658 250 012.
Once a provider makes a valid application to renew its registration, its registration continues until TEQSA decides whether to renew the provider’s registration, as provided by Section 36(3) of the TEQSA Act. The provider’s registration status on the National Register will state ‘ongoing, pending renewal’ until such time TEQSA makes its decision on the application.
Stage 3: Assessment process
Applications for renewal of registration are considered under Part 3, Division 3 of the TEQSA Act.
TEQSA may renew a provider’s registration if we are satisfied the provider continues to meet the Threshold Standards.
Enquiries and requests for further information
TEQSA assesses whether the application and supporting evidence submitted confirms the provider continues to meet the Threshold Standards. We may request further information as questions arise. For example, you may be asked to address apparent gaps in your evidence, or clarify aspects of your evidence, or explain how certain policies and procedures are implemented in practice. TEQSA will ask you to respond to requests for information online, through a request created in the portal which is referenced as an ‘REQ’.
Your TEQSA case manager is your primary contact for your TEQSA-related enquiries. However, when you have a specific enquiry about an application that is in progress TEQSA’s specialist teams are best placed to assist you in the most efficient and timely fashion.
We will provide you with the details of the TEQSA staff member assigned to your assessment at the time we advise you of the specific evidence requirements for the re-registration application. Please note that this may change over the course of an assessment for a range of operational reasons, including staff changing roles. If you are unsure, please contact your TEQSA case manager.
TEQSA also has specialist contact teams across the agency that are best placed to assist you in a timely and efficient manner when you have a specific enquiry about one of our functions. Please access our key contacts at TEQSA webpage to help direct your enquiry to the most appropriate TEQSA team contacts.
Changes to assessment scope and additional evidence
TEQSA may decide to change the scope of your assessment at any time following the pre-submission scoping assessment or following the lodgment of the application. An example of when this may happen is if we identify a significant risk following a substantial change in a provider’s circumstances, or where we have identified significant risks of non-compliance with the Threshold Standards following our assessment of evidence submitted with your application.
In these instances, we will advise you as soon as possible of the change to the assessment scope and the additional evidence TEQSA requires.
TEQSA uses external experts to provide independent advice on specific, identified elements of our regulatory assessments and reviews by responding to specific briefs prepared by assessment teams. It is important to note that external expert advice is only one input into our regulatory process and experts do not draft recommendations or make regulatory decisions.
TEQSA may visit one or more of your delivery sites or headquarters if required. We may conduct these virtually or in-person. At this visit, TEQSA may, for example, inspect facilities, equipment and resources, or clarify how relevant procedures, policies and operations are implemented through interviews with key personnel.
Site visits are another way of collecting evidence, and we will use observations and discussions held during a site visit in our assessment and decision-making to supplement or validate your written evidence. At the provider visit, TEQSA may interview various groups including students, staff, and members of corporate and academic boards.
TEQSA’s assessment timeframes are subject to a range of factors that can affect the time taken to make our assessments, including:
- the regulatory history of an existing provider, including the outcomes of previous assessments relevant to the application
- the strength and relevance of evidence presented by the applicant
- the risk of non-compliance with the Threshold Standards and the ability of the provider to demonstrate it has mitigated those risks
- the time taken by the provider to respond effectively to requests for information
- the level of resourcing available to TEQSA.
Stage 4: Findings and recommendations
TEQSA’s re-registration assessment team prepares an assessment report that includes recommendations to the TEQSA Commission about the application.
Under the TEQSA Act, the period of registration determined by TEQSA cannot exceed 7 years. If the assessment report recommends approving the application for a period of 7 years and without conditions, the re-registration assessment team will present the report to the Commission for their consideration and decision.
In some cases, the re-registration assessment team will recommend the TEQSA Commission:
- approves the application but impose conditions
- approves an application for a period less than 7 years
- rejects the application.
In these instances, TEQSA will advise the applicant of the proposed decision and specify the reasons. Our obligations in this regard are set out in s36(5) of the TEQSA Act. The applicant will be afforded an opportunity to comment and provide further information with respect to the proposed decision. TEQSA may not specify the precise wording of a proposed condition, rather we will set out our concerns and the reasons why the imposition of a condition would confirm with the basic principles for regulation. We may also send you any evidence that is relevant to the proposed decision that you may not have previously seen, such as reports from external experts used by TEQSA.
TEQSA’s approach to this stage of the process will vary according to the issues identified and the nature of the decisions being contemplated.
Where TEQSA is proposing to reject an application where the applicant is registered in a university provider category, we are required to give opportunities to make representations to the provider and to the Minister for each relevant state and territory responsible for higher education.
The assessment team will then review any information provided by the applicant and any other relevant entities before presenting the report to the TEQSA Commission.
Stage 5: Commission decision
The TEQSA Commission considers the recommendations made by the re-registration assessment team. In reaching a decision, the TEQSA Commission will have regard to the 3 basic principles for regulation set out in Part 2 of the TEQSA Act. These are regulatory necessity, reflecting risk, and proportionate regulation.
The TEQSA Commission may decide to:
- approve the application for the maximum registration period
- approve the application for a shortened period and/or impose conditions on the renewal of registration
- reject the application.
When considering whether to approve a shortened period of registration, to impose conditions, or to reject the application, the TEQSA Commission will consider any representations made by the applicant in response to the proposed decision.
When it is considering a decision to reject an application made by an applicant registered in a university provider category, the TEQSA Commission must consider any representations made by relevant entities in response to the proposed decision.
Notifying you of the decision
TEQSA will send you a Notice of Decision within 30 calendar days of making a decision to grant or reject your application. The notice will include the details of any conditions placed on your renewal of registration.
In some cases, we may also request further information and/or may notify you of areas that may be explored further in future regulatory processes. TEQSA may also make observations or recommendations about areas for improvement to support quality enhancement.
If your application has been rejected, or if conditions have been imposed on your renewal of registration, the Notice of Decision will be accompanied by a statement of reasons.
Our obligations with respect to notifying providers of our decisions about renewal of registration are set out in s37 of the TEQSA Act.
Review of decisions
Certain decisions made by TEQSA are reviewable. Please refer to our website for more information about reviews of TEQSA decisions.
Stage 6: TEQSA updates the National Register
TEQSA normally publishes reports of all decisions about provider registration and course accreditation to facilitate transparency of our processes, regulatory decisions and the reasons for those decisions.
A public report contains our decision and the reasons for the decision. This report is published on the National Register after TEQSA has considered any feedback you may have given on a draft version provided to you.
Refer to TEQSA’s policy about public statements on TEQSA’s regulatory decisions and processes for more information on our approach.
Updating the National Register
Where an application for renewal of registration has been approved, the relevant entry on the National Register will be updated. Where conditions are imposed on the renewal of registration of a provider, details of those conditions will also be published.
Confidentiality and accuracy of information
TEQSA has statutory obligations in relation to confidentiality however, we operate within a public accountability framework. Where a higher education provider considers that its information should be treated as confidential by TEQSA, the provider should contact us before providing the information. For more information, see our approach to confidential information.
|Version #||Date||Key changes|
|1.1||2 June 2014|
|2.0||13 April 2016||Updated for the HESF 2015 and made available as beta version for consultation.|
|2.1||27 September 2016||Evidence table updated and feedback from consultation incorporated.
|2.2||7 October 2016||Cross reference to Part B1 of the HES Framework added to the Notes of Appendix A.|
|2.3||3 November 2016||Appendix A updated.
|2.4||20 January 2017||Wording updated to reflect HESF 2015 now in effect, references to the Confirmed Evidence Table for Renewal of Registration added, and minor clarifications made in relation to Guidance Note on Naming Conventions for Evidence.|
|2.5||18 April 2017||Extension to scope (Section 1.3) updated for situations where student teachers are being placed into schools or the provider has responsibility for students under the age of 18.|
|2.6||3 May 2017||Standard 7.1.4 updated in Table 1 to reflect that it is only if applicable.|
|2.7||29 August 2018||Update to Table 1 in Appendix A; Standards 2.3.1-5 are now included in the core assessment scope, and all of the indicative evidence requirements for Domain 2 - Learning Environment have been updated accordingly.
|3.0||25 October 2023||Update reference to Threshold Standards. Updated to reflect changes to TEQSA’s assessment processes.|