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TEQSA releases risk findings report on Australia’s higher education sector

15 July 2019

The Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) today released an analysis of risk findings from across the higher education sector. 

The first-of-its-kind report, Key risk findings on Australia’s higher education sector, provides insights into the performance of the sector and identifies areas for development among providers. The report draws insights from TEQSA’s annual risk assessments process, and its 2018 risk profiles and findings.

TEQSA Chief Executive Officer Anthony McClaran said formal and regular risk assessments inform the agency’s priorities, policy work and case management operations. 

“Risk assessments are crucial for TEQSA to perform its fundamental role safeguarding students’ interests and the reputation of higher education in Australia. This report shares the process and outcomes of TEQSA’s risk findings, and strengthens the sector’s confidence in our proportionate, risk-reflective approach to regulation,” said Mr. McClaran.

TEQSA’s risk assessments are focused on two overarching areas:  

  1. Risks to students, which includes key indicators such as student load, attrition rate, student-to-staff ratio, graduate satisfaction and next steps (employment or further study). 

    The overwhelming majority (86%) of providers presented a low (56%) or moderate (30%) risk to students in 2018. The proportion of providers rated low risk increased, while the number of providers rated high risk decreased in 2018.
     
  2. Risk to financial position, which considers the financial viability and sustainability of providers. 

    The overwhelming majority (93%) of providers presented a low (59%) or moderate (34%) risk to financial position in 2018.

Notably, 91% of students studying higher education in Australia are enrolled in low risk providers. 

Mr. McClaran said that, while risk assessments do not establish compliance or non-compliance with the Higher Education Standards Framework, they do indicate where TEQSA may require more reassurance that a higher education provider will continue to meet the standards.

“The data assists us to better inform higher education providers about risks and emerging issues, with the aim to promote good practice and focus on areas for development and improvement,” he said.

“The release of this information is in line with TEQSA’s commitment to make key data available, and to be open and transparent in our dealings with Australia’s higher education providers.”

As the risk ratings are based on historical data, the report is limited in the extent to which certain conclusions may be drawn about the current and future state of the sector. 

Consultations on Risk Assessment Framework

The report coincides with TEQSA’s sector-wide consultations on how its Risk Assessment Framework, in place since 2014, could be enhanced to ensure that it continues to effectively and comprehensively reflect the nature and operation of higher education providers. Registered higher education providers are invited to submit responses and ideas, and also to attend consultation workshops, from July to September 2019.  

The consultation paper is available on the TEQSA website and responses can be provided via consultation [at] teqsa.gov.au by 5pm, 20 September 2019.  

Media enquiries

TEQSA media: comms [at] teqsa.gov.au, tel 0437 143 012