Coronavirus (COVID-19) – latest regulatory advice
Online learning good practice
Temporary relaxation of working hours for student visa holders (25 January 2022)
The Department of Home Affairs has announced the temporary relaxation of working hours for student visa holders.
This takes effect immediately for all ongoing students as well as new student arrivals who wish to commence a job prior to course commencement. This means that international students can work before their course commences and work more than 40 hours a fortnight in any sector of the economy. This is a temporary arrangement and will be reviewed by the Government in April 2022.
International student arrivals - update from TEQSA and ASQA (25 November 2021)
TEQSA and ASQA have issued joint advice to the sector around the continuation of regulatory flexibility following the re-opening of Australia’s borders to international students.
TEQSA fee relief arrangements extended until 31 December 2022 (25 November 2021)
The Minister for Education and Youth has announced a further 12-month extension of TEQSA’s regulatory fee relief arrangements as part of an Australian Government package to support the higher education sector’s recovery from the pandemic.
ADCET guidelines on responding to the needs of staff and students with disability in COVID-19 return-to-campus planning for Australia’s tertiary institutions (28 September 2020)
The Australian Disability Clearinghouse on Education and Training (ADCET) guidelines aim to complement higher education providers' general approach to return to campus and enhance existing resources by ensuring that return-to-campus plans are viewed through a 'disability lens'.
They provide considerations and practical recommendations to support the safe return of staff and students with disability in COVID-19 back onto campus when they are able to do so.
COVID-19 recovery – key considerations for providers (10 September 2020)
This guidance sets out key, high-level, principles-based considerations that providers should remain mindful of in their planning during the COVID-19 recovery period.
2020 provider risk assessment (27 August 2020)
TEQSA has introduced a number of changes to our approach to the risk assessments for 2020. The 2020 provider risk assessment will incorporate feedback received by TEQSA during our consultation with the sector in 2019, and will feature a specific focus on the financial viability of providers due to the significant impacts of COVID-19.
COVID-19 Challenges and Future Directions: HEPP-QN Question Bank (27 July 2020)
At a meeting of 1 July 2020, HEPP-QN and TEQSA produced a series of questions and responses relating to TEQSA's regulatory activities during the pandemic.
COVID-19 related complaints to the Overseas Students Ombudsman (5 June 2020)
- The Overseas Students Ombudsman has published a fact sheet about international student complaints related to the COVID-19 pandemic
Coronavirus – regulatory information for universities, VET, ELICOS and higher education providers (20 May 2020)
- The Department of Education, Skills and Employment has published an information sheet for providers on flexible arrangements and online learning for international students
Applications for course accreditation for new Graduate and Undergraduate Certificates (6 May 2020)
TEQSA will waive or reimburse fees and charges for registered providers (23 April 2020)
National principles for clinical education during the COVID-19 pandemic (21 April 2020)
- Department of Health, Department of Education, Skills and Employment, Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) and Health Professions Accreditation Collaborative Forum (HPACF) joint statement setting out national principles to guide student clinical education
Statement on notifications (17 April 2020)
Online delivery – key considerations for providers (8 April 2020)
Impacts of COVID-19 on Industry Professional Accreditation (6 April 2020)
Provider Information Request submission dates deferred until June (2 April 2020)
TEQSA is working remotely (30 March 2020)
TEQSA is working to provide continuous service for the higher education sector during COVID19, while safeguarding the health and wellbeing of all staff, and the community.
All TEQSA staff are working remotely, and our Melbourne offices are closed. While we have worked hard to ensure minimal disruptions we do appreciate your patience and understanding during this time.
Providers are encouraged to continue to reach out to their TEQSA case managers at any time with any concerns, and to report material changes.
Reducing regulatory burden during COVID-19 (26 March 2020)
- Reducing regulatory burden during COVID-19: Important update for higher education providers from TEQSA
Joint TEQSA and ASQA statement relating to flexible delivery (20 March 2020)
All AQF training and assessment must meet high quality standards regardless of the location of the student and the mode of delivery. As long as the student remains enrolled with their provider, and the assessment requirements of the course allow it, the location of the student and the mode of delivery should not form an impediment to attainment of an Australian qualification.
National regulators, including ASQA and TEQSA, will be flexible in order to support students to study online either in Australia or offshore.
Providers should assure themselves that such arrangements maintain assessment and quality standards, and are appropriately documented. Not all qualifications are suited to online learning, this may include those with mandatory work placements.
If providers have questions about their specific circumstances they should contact their relevant regulator.
Reporting material changes to TEQSA
As a result of the impacts of COVID-19, providers may need to make a number of significant changes to their operations to respond to the current challenges. TEQSA is monitoring the nature of material changes and we are continuing to update our guidance and advice to reflect the evolving issues reported by the sector.
On 30 June 2021, TEQSA published a revised Material Change Notification Policy. This policy outlines the circumstances in which providers are required to notify TEQSA of material changes and the method for notification and supersedes the previous Coronavirus (COVID-19) – statement on notifications. You should report material changes in the circumstances listed on the latest Material Change Notification Policy via email to materialchanges [at] teqsa.gov.au.
Submitting a material change
A material change must be submitted within 14 days of becoming aware of the change.
The notification should include information on the nature of the change, how the provider is managing the change, how it was approved (if applicable), and any significant financial implications.
What happens next
Importantly, a material change is a notification to TEQSA, not an application. You do not need to wait for a response from TEQSA once you have met your obligation by submitting a material change.
TEQSA will review the information you submit in your material change and contact you with any questions or concerns if needed.
TEQSA is committed to supporting providers during this time and encourage you to contact your case manager with any questions.
We commend the sector for all it is doing to support its students, especially international students, during this time.
We would encourage providers to refer students to the Study in Australia website where they can access a suite of resources and latest information, including in relation to travel and visa information, and wellbeing support.
For international students in Australia, the descriptions and contact details of many organisations which provide mental health services are listed on the Mental Health Australia website.
Other resources, for students and the sector, include:
- COVID-19: Information for universities, higher education and vocational education facilities, their students and staff
- COVID-19: Information for VET, ELICOS and higher education providers
- COVID-19 resources in Simplified Chinese
- Delivery of online education to students based in China
- Novel coronavirus FAQs for international students
- Department of Education, Skills and Employment information page
- Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade/Smartraveller: All Australians advised to come home from abroad, and to not travel overseas.
Compliance with the National Code
TEQSA acknowledges that due to COVID-19 providers may not be in a position to fully comply with all of the requirements of the National Code 2018.
Providers should raise any concerns by contacting cricos [at] teqsa.gov.au.
Noting the intensive nature of ELICOS delivery and the challenges presented by online delivery of ELICOS, both ASQA and TEQSA are committed to working with ELICOS providers during this time to ensure that students who are directly impacted by travel restriction from attending class in Australia are not disadvantaged.
ASQA and TEQSA will work flexibly with providers on a case by case basis to ensure any alternative arrangements put in place mitigate disadvantage to students.
Financial dependence on affected overseas students
TEQSA recognises the financial impacts of COVID-19, travel bans, and other quarantine measures, which may lead to institutions suffering financial pressures at this time.
Section 6.2 of the Threshold Standards requires corporate monitoring and accountability. Where short-term measures are implemented to mitigate the effects of COVID-19, TEQSA asks that providers also identify and manage any subsequent risks, in order to ensure adequate resource allocations and ongoing financial viability, for current and future students.
As above, TEQSA encourages providers to contact their case managers to discuss their circumstances on a case-by-case basis.
For any other enquiries, please contact enquiries [at] teqsa.gov.au.