Landmark accreditation workshop highlights the challenges of addressing perceived overlap and duplication in practice
On 15 November 2019, representatives from the Australian Dental Council (ADC), TEQSA, and dental education providers came together for a landmark workshop to discuss the perceived extent of overlap and duplication within the higher education sector.
Instigated by the ADC following the signing of a second Memorandum of Understanding with TEQSA in 2019, the workshop provided a forum for both organisations to develop a better understanding of each other’s responsibilities, processes and principles in regards to decision making within the accreditation space.
Participants discussed how accreditation standards are applied in practice based on a mapping of the Higher Education Standards Framework applied by TEQSA against the ADC/Dental Council (New Zealand) Accreditation Standards for dental practitioner programs.
Participants found that although the wording may appear similar, the approach taken by each organisation and the processes by which the standards are used differ markedly. Furthermore, external factors, such as legislative requirements, including the different foci of these frameworks, made addressing the perceived instances of overlap and duplication a challenge for participants, explained ADC Chief Executive Officer, Narelle Mills.
“The Australian education sector is a complicated environment which is constantly evolving. It is important for us to work collectively with all groups within the sector, especially TEQSA, to ensure we are enabling these changes, rather than inhibiting them,” said Ms Mills.
“What we found during the workshop is that the ADC and TEQSA have very distinct focus areas in regards to accreditation. For the ADC, our primary focus is on the assurance of public safety as per our responsibilities under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, while TEQSA is responsible for protecting student interests and the reputation of Australia’s world-class higher education sector. When we apply this lens to the standards, we find accreditation to have a complementary focus.”
“This landmark workshop is an encouraging starting point for both organisations to work together to foster an environment of understanding and information sharing. While we did not reach a definitive outcome at this time, these discussions form the foundations of a working relationship which will benefit the sector now and into the future,” she said.
For TEQSA, this meeting has laid the foundation for the ongoing conversation in the challenging area of joint accreditation, to develop a shared understanding of future models of accreditation and refined approaches to working together.
Further information on the work of the ADC in relation to program accreditation can be found on the ADC website.
Michelle Alexander, Assistant Director, Communications, 0437 143 012, michelle.alexander [at] teqsa.gov.au