How does TEQSA respond to sector-wide issues?
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:
How is TEQSA ensuring higher education providers are complying with these requirements?
We now 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:
- 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.
In January 2019, we released a report summarising the results of our analysis of providers’ activities in relation to sexual assault and sexual harassment.
- UPDATED table of university responses to key measures
- UPDATED table of Independent and TAFE higher education provider responses to key measures
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
- View our Good Practice Note: Preventing and responding to sexual assault and sexual harassment in the Australian higher education sector
Sexual assault and harassment – TEQSA's work on the issue
View a video overview of our work on our YouTube channel.
Where can I seek help?
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 webpage.
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.