Wellbeing and safety standards set to be assessed
The Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) will include student wellbeing and safety standards to those that all higher education providers are assessed against during applications for renewal of registration.
After the release of recent research, surveys and media reports revealing the extent of sexual assault and sexual harassment at Australian universities, the higher education regulator is seeking assurance that all providers are fostering safe environments and supporting students in need.
All Australian higher education providers are required to apply to TEQSA to renew their registration at least every seven years. During the assessment of these applications, the agency will generally assess against a core set of standards, which will now include those that require a range of student wellbeing and support services to be available.
TEQSA chief executive Anthony McClaran said that the upcoming applications for renewal of registration will be the first to be assessed against the new Higher Education Standards Framework, which came into effect in 2017.
“The new Standards are built around the student journey through higher education, and wellbeing and safety are crucial dimensions of that”, said Mr McClaran.
“The decision to include student wellbeing and safety standards in all renewal of registration applications was made to ensure student safety, and that higher education providers are doing everything expected of them under the Standards to prevent abuse from occurring”.
TEQSA has issued guidance material on what the agency will expect to see during these regulatory assessments, which was developed with input from a broad range of stakeholders including sector bodies, advocacy groups and students.
With guidance material already made available, the agency is now planning future work around sexual assault and harassment, which will include reporting to the Minister for Education and Training on the sector’s response to the issue, capacity building for higher education providers, continued engagement with the sector, students and advocacy groups and enhancing TEQSA’s complaints handling mechanisms.
TEQSA’s regulatory decisions regarding Australian higher education providers can be found on the agency’s National Register of Higher Education Providers.
- The Higher Education Standards Framework (Threshold Standards) 2015 came into effect on 1 January 2017 and includes more prescriptive requirements regarding student wellbeing and safety that the previous Standards.
- Find out more about our previous and planned work regarding sexual assault and sexual harassment from our How does TEQSA respond to sector-wide issues? page
Raphael May, Assistant Director, Communications: raphael.may [at] teqsa.gov.au, 0437 143 012 or (03) 8306 2536.