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TEQSA outlines compliance priorities for 2022

1 April 2022

TEQSA, Australia’s independent higher education regulator, has detailed its priorities for assuring compliance with the Higher Education Standards Framework for the year ahead.

The agency’s priorities, outlined in the TEQSA 2021 compliance report, focus on teaching and research quality, sector integrity, student wellbeing and safety, and financial standing of higher education providers.

TEQSA’s compliance priorities have been informed by complaints made directly to the agency, as well as TEQSA’s assessments from its regulatory activity and practices. 

Last year, 289 concerns were lodged with TEQSA about Australian higher education providers, down on the 426 received in 2020. 

TEQSA Chief Executive Alistair Maclean said complaints had spiked during 2020, largely due to the rapid shift to online delivery during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“TEQSA has worked closely with the sector throughout the pandemic to ensure the continued high-quality of Australian higher education. We continue to engage with the sector to ensure online and on-campus courses meet the standards and deliver a high-quality student experience,” Mr Maclean said.

Student wellbeing and safety will remain a key concern and compliance priority for TEQSA, including systemic issues relating to sexual assault and sexual harassment, mental health support and barriers for students with a disability.

Complaints to TEQSA in 2021 about commercial academic cheating services increased from 23 in 2020 to 173 in 2021. This followed the establishment of TEQSA’s Higher Education Integrity Unit, and new laws in late 2020 that empowered TEQSA to take enforcement action against cheating services.

Mr Maclean noted that during 2021 TEQSA also prioritised action against unregistered entities offering higher education to Australian students.  

“It is illegal for entities not registered with TEQSA to offer higher education in Australia,” Mr Maclean said. 

“Over the past year, TEQSA has investigated 9 unregistered entities, resulting in 3 ceasing to target Australian students. To help safeguard student interests, we’ve also published a list of known unregistered entities targeting Australian students on our website.”

TEQSA encourages students considering a course of study to check TEQSA’s National Register to ensure their provider is registered and meets Australian standards for higher education. 

The agency also encourages all higher education providers to review TEQSA’s compliance report and priorities for 2022, in order to inform their own risk management and quality assurance mechanisms.

The Higher Education Standards Framework 2021 is a legislative instrument that sets the standards that a provider must meet and continue to meet to be registered to operate as a higher education provider in Australia. The standards are determined by the Minister for Education and Youth on the advice of the expert Higher Education Standards Panel. TEQSA uses the standards to regulate higher education providers and courses.

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