The Compliance Monitoring Framework supports our regulatory oversight of providers’ compliance and enhances community confidence that the quality of Australian higher education is maintained.
The framework assists TEQSA to perform its core regulatory functions and powers under the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency Act 2011, Education Services for Overseas Students Act 2000 and subordinate legislation and is informed by our statements about our Approach to Quality Assurance and Regulation and Compliance and Enforcement.
Figure 1: Key elements of TEQSA’s compliance monitoring cycle
The framework is reviewed by TEQSA’s Commission annually, or where there is significant change affecting the sector, to ensure it reflects changing regulatory risks and remains effective.
TEQSA’s broad compliance monitoring activities provide us with insight into emerging and current risks to the sector, as well as common risks to provider quality assurance practices.
This assists us to identify and focus on the areas of non-compliance that pose the greatest risk to students and the quality, integrity and reputation of the higher education sector.
TEQSA monitors and identifies risk through a number of interconnected and complementary activities, including:
- TEQSA’s annual provider Risk Assessment Framework, a tool to identify risk, which provides a snapshot of each higher education provider, including regulatory history
- assessments for renewal of TEQSA and CRICOS registration and accreditation
- compliance assessments and investigations, and enforcement action
- information and intelligence from various sources, including peak and professional accreditation bodies, other government agencies, concerns and material change notifications
- sector-wide thematic analyses and consultation/engagement with key stakeholders.
We set compliance priorities within agreed risk tolerance parameters, approved by TEQSA’s Commission, to guide our compliance monitoring activities for the greatest regulatory impact to protect students and the quality, integrity and reputation of the sector. These are reviewed on an annual basis to ensure they remain relevant and reflective of risk in the sector and are published in the annual compliance report.
As a risk-based regulator, TEQSA’s prioritisation model, based on the compliance priorities, is an essential component of our approach to compliance monitoring. It involves a robust triage process to promptly identify those issues that pose the greatest risks. This helps to prioritise TEQSA’s work and determine how best to allocate our resources.
The Compliance Priorities, annual provider risk assessment and other information and intelligence sources feed into the development of an Annual Compliance Program. This is a proactive and forward-looking plan to target current, systemic and emerging risks. This targeted approach provides assurance that priority risk areas are being managed in the sector.
TEQSA has a range of regulatory tools and statutory powers to address non-compliance. Our regulatory response is guided by the Compliance and Enforcement Policy, which documents principles for undertaking enforcement activities and supporting processes and procedures.
Where we identify that a provider is not complying (or is at substantial risk of not complying) with its obligations, our level of regulatory response will: reflect the level of risk identified, be proportionate to the issues we seek to address, be tailored to the individual circumstances so as to achieve the most effective compliance outcome.
Information gained from compliance monitoring activities and lessons learned from the action and response flow back into monitoring and assessment activities as regulatory intelligence.
We work across government, sharing resources, information and findings, where it is relevant to the functions and powers of other agencies. This joined up approach reduces duplication of effort and increases our knowledge base.
We communicate information about our compliance monitoring activities to raise awareness and inform, which in turn helps the sector build capability through lessons learnt. We do this by tailoring and publishing education and guidance based on findings from compliance monitoring activities and through our annual compliance report. We also consult with the sector and key stakeholders, including peak bodies, to assist the sector to develop solutions to problems.
The Compliance Monitoring Framework is underpinned by the following contemporary best-practice regulatory principles:
|Risk-based||TEQSA’s regulatory approach is proactive and responsive in identifying, assessing and responding to risk, and prioritising and targeting resources toward specific groups or behaviours that pose the greatest risk of harm to students, quality and the reputation of the higher education sector.|
|Proportionate||TEQSA’s regulatory response is proportionate to the problem that it seeks to address.|
|Necessary||TEQSA will not burden regulated entities any more than is reasonably necessary in the circumstances, and will seek opportunities for reducing the administrative burden of regulation and avoiding duplication where possible.|
|Collaborative||TEQSA works in partnership with the sector to support the delivery of quality education and protect the interests of students. TEQSA also works collaboratively with other regulators and stakeholders who share responsibility for ensuring quality in the sector.|
|Evidence-based||TEQSA makes informed and considered decisions, based on the best available evidence, that withstand scrutiny.|
|Intelligence-led||TEQSA effectively uses information and data to predict risk and inform decision-making about how to manage key compliance risks.|
|Outcomes-focused||Regulatory practice and decision-making are driven by a desire to achieve good regulatory outcomes. This includes intervening to address risk early. Progress against outcomes is measured by sector continuous improvement and progress towards enhancing sector self-assurance.|
|Lawful||TEQSA undertakes compliance activities within its powers, in accordance with the regulatory principles.|
|Fair||TEQSA undertakes compliance monitoring activities in accordance with its policies and processes, including those related to privacy, security, and records management. This is done in a manner that is procedurally fair, impartial and ethical. TEQSA commits to timely engagement with providers.|
|Transparent||TEQSA is committed to maintaining and enhancing transparency and accountability in the sector and contributing to public trust and confidence. In deciding whether to make TEQSA’s compliance and enforcement actions public, TEQSA will balance transparency with the matters outlined in the Public Disclosure Policy.|
|Focused on building capability||TEQSA’s activities support regulated entities to meet their obligations and build their capability towards a compliance culture.|