HESF Domain 5: Institutional quality assurance

Scope and intent of the Domain

This Domain (Sections 5.1-5.4) of the Higher Education Standards Framework (Threshold Standards) 2021 (HES Framework) encompasses:

  • whether the provider has a credible and effective process for internal approval of all courses of study that is applied consistently and involves competent academic oversight and scrutiny independent of those directly involved in the delivery of the courses of study (Section 5.1)
  • the effectiveness of the policy framework and processes that are applied to maintain academic integrity throughout the provider’s academic activities (including arrangements with other parties) and to address and prevent lapses in academic integrity (Section 5.2)
  • the mechanisms for regular review of the quality of higher education activities and how the findings of such reviews are used to bring about improvements (Section 5.3)
  • how delivery arrangements with other parties are quality assured, including verification of the continuing compliance of those arrangements with the requirements of the HES Framework (Section 5.4).

Our commentary

5.1 Course Approval and Accreditation

TEQSA’s main focus will be on ensuring that the provider has an effective internal process for approval of all courses, which includes rigorous academic scrutiny through the institutional academic governance processes of the provider, independently of those involved directly in delivery of the course of study. All providers are expected to have such an approval process, whether they have self-accrediting authority or their courses are accredited by TEQSA. If we accredit a course of study, the point of departure will be the evidence of rigorous internal approval of the course carried out by the provider prior to making an application for course accreditation. Once we are satisfied that a provider’s approval process is capable and continues to be so, less detailed evidence about the approval process itself may be required for regulatory purposes. Any course of study submitted to us for approval must have been both considered and approved by the responsible internal academic governance body or bodies or it will not be accredited.

5.2 Academic and Research Integrity

TEQSA will need to be satisfied that there is an institutional policy framework to maintain and support academic integrity of students and staff that is backed by processes and practices that implement institutional policies effectively. Providers will need processes for detecting and addressing instances of plagiarism and other forms of ‘cheating’. Once a provider is operating, evidence of effectiveness will be provided in part by records of management of incidents as required by Paragraph 7.3.3c. 

Reference points

  • Australian Government, Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research (2018).
  • Reports of studies on good practice commissioned by the Office for Learning and Teaching and the Australian Learning and Teaching Council (2011-2013).
  • Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency, Academic Integrity Toolkit (2020).

5.3 Monitoring, Review and Improvement

This Section requires a provider to conduct periodic, comprehensive reviews of all courses (at least every seven years with evidence to be provided as part of the renewal of registration application to TEQSA), backed by more frequent monitoring of the day-to-day delivery of courses of study, for example, periodic reviews of units and annual review of student performance. We will expect to see that such reviews are conducted (or will be conducted in the case of a new provider or course of study) according to the requirements of the Standards as part of the provider’s normal operations, and that the findings of the reviews are evidently used to generate improvements. In demonstrating that it meets this Standard, a provider will need to demonstrate in particular that reviews of courses of study involve considered oversight by the institutional academic governance processes, external referencing (which can include moderation of assessment against other programs, benchmarking of student success and course design against programs at other providers) and feedback from students. 

5.4 Delivery with Other Parties

Where a provider delivers courses of study or parts of courses of study through arrangements with other parties, TEQSA will need to be satisfied that the provider remains accountable for such arrangements, that the delivery of the program is monitored and quality assured by the provider and that both the program delivery and the student experience with other parties comply with the requirements of the HES Framework. How this is demonstrated may vary with particular circumstances and should be discussed with the provider’s case manager. However, the starting point will be the terms and conditions of the contract between the registered provider and the third party, and how the registered provider reviews compliance with these.

Relevant guidance notes

The following guidance notes can be accessed at our Guidance notes page, or from the links below:

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