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How does TEQSA respond to sector-wide issues?

Group of students walking away from camera
As Australia’s national quality assurance and regulatory agency for higher education, our purpose is to safeguard student interests and the reputation of Australia’s higher education sector.

Sometimes, this calls for us to address sector-wide issues that affect students, and in turn, the wider Australian community. An overview of this work can be found below.

Tackling sexual assault and sexual harassment

After the release of recent research, surveys and media reports revealing the issue of sexual assault and sexual harassment at Australian universities, TEQSA has moved to ensure that all higher education providers are fostering safe environments and supporting students in need.

In order to offer higher education courses of study, providers must be registered with TEQSA and meet the requirements of the Higher Education Standards Framework (HES Framework). The HES Framework includes specific requirements regarding student wellbeing and safety, which include the need for:

  • A safe learning environment to be promoted and fostered
  • Support services for students who need assistance with personal circumstances which may be having an adverse effect on their education
  • Formal complaints handling policies and procedures.

We have been working with stakeholders from across the sector including students, providers, advocacy groups and the Government, to ensure our response to this issue is based on the best available information. An overview of these stakeholders is illustrated in the following word cloud:

Word cloud of TEQSA stakeholders

How is TEQSA ensuring higher education providers are complying with these requirements?

Regulatory assessments

From 2018, we have moved to include student wellbeing and safety standards with those that higher education providers are assessed against during applications for renewal of registration.

All Australian higher education providers are required to apply to TEQSA to renew their registration at least every seven years. During this process, we assess providers’ operations to ensure they are meeting the requirements of the HES Framework.  

Providers who are found to be in breach of standards face regulatory actions that range from requesting information to placing conditions on registration and, in the most serious of cases, cancelling registration.

Our regulatory decisions regarding Australian higher education providers can be found on the National Register of Higher Education Providers.

Sexual assault and sexual harassment project

In order to ensure the sector is adequately responding to the issue of sexual assault and sexual harassment, TEQSA has commenced a dedicated project, with the following objectives:

  • Request, collate and analyse information about providers’ activities in relation to sexual assault and sexual harassment
  • Test and assure the information that providers have given TEQSA
  • Receive and respond to complaints about providers’ response to incidents of sexual assault and sexual harassment
  • Support providers to implement actions that will ensure the wellbeing and safety of students by providing advice and sharing good practice.

Sector guidance

We have worked with the sector, students and advocacy groups to produce guidance material on what we will expect to see when assessing providers’ compliance with student wellbeing and safety requirements of the HES Framework during our regulatory assessments.

View our Guidance Note: Wellbeing and Safety.

Sexual assault and harassment – TEQSA's work on the issue

View a video overview of our work on our YouTube channel.

YouTube logo

Where can I seek help?

University students

Universities Australia’s ‘Respect. Now. Always.’ initiative lists the contact details for counselling and support services at Australian universities. You can access this list from Universities Australia’s Where to seek support at your university web page.

Higher education provider students

All higher education providers should provide access to student support services. ReachOut.com also provides support to survivors of sexual assault and sexual harassment and has compiled a list of state-based support services. This list can be accessed from ReachOut.com’s Sexual assault support webpage

Complaints to TEQSA

TEQSA accepts complaints about higher education providers’ compliance with the legislation we administer. If you need to make a complaint about the way in which a provider has responded to an incident of sexual assault or sexual harassment, please complete our online complaint form