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TEQSA Corporate Plan 2019-23

30 August 2019

Introduction

As the accountable authority of the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA), we are pleased to present the TEQSA Corporate Plan 2018-22 as required under paragraph 35(1)(a) of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 and s160(1) of the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Act 2011. The Corporate Plan is prepared in accordance with the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Rule 2014 and covers four reporting periods from 2019-20 to 2022-23.

Professor Nicholas Saunders AO
Chief Commissioner

Professor Joan Cooper
Commissioner

Dr Lin Martin
Commissioner

Professor Cliff Walsh
Commissioner

August 2019

From the Chief Commissioner

I am pleased to present the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) Corporate Plan for the years 2019-20 to 2022-23.

This Plan sets out TEQSA’s priorities for the next four years in an environment of potentially significant changes in Australian higher education.

With the welcome announcement in the 2018-19 Commonwealth Budget of additional resourcing, the agency is preparing to manage the increased workload expected over 2019-20 and 2020-21, seeking to ensure improved timeframes for providers while maintaining the necessary rigour in our oversight of the quality of the sector.

This plan also includes the further development of our capability to identify and address risks to students and the reputation of the sector that are at the core of TEQSA’s purpose. A key area identified in the 2018-19 Commonwealth Budget was the need to combat contract cheating and TEQSA will have a role in enforcing the proposed legislation to outlaw the provision of contract cheating sites and a role in developing further support material for providers.

Since 2015, TEQSA has increased the opportunities for providers and other stakeholders to provide feedback on our performance as a regulator and to discuss developments in quality assurance with the agency. These opportunities have included the annual stakeholder survey, meetings with peak bodies, forums with groups of providers, visits to and from individual providers and, not least, the annual TEQSA conference. This plan commits the agency to continued engagement with the sector and to respond to sector feedback on our performance. In 2019-20, this engagement will include consultation with the sector in relation to revised cost recovery arrangements, which may also impact on our approach to regulation of the sector.

This plan is a living document and will be revised as the agency adapts and responds to changes in Australia’s higher education sector and our operating environment.

Professor Nicholas Saunders AO
Chief Commissioner

TEQSA’s purpose

TEQSA’s purpose is to protect student interests and the reputation of Australia’s higher education sector through a proportionate, risk-reflective approach to quality assurance that supports diversity, innovation and excellence.

We have four strategic objectives in delivering our purpose. We will:

  1. quality assure and regulate the sector in a timely, transparent and risk reflective manner
  2. support providers to deliver high quality higher education, protect student interests and enhance the reputation and competitiveness of Australia’s higher education sector
  3. provide advice and information to inform decisions about the appropriateness and quality of higher education
  4. take prompt and effective action to address substantial risks to students or the sector’s reputation.

TEQSA is Australia’s independent national quality assurance and regulatory agency for higher education. All providers that offer higher education qualifications in or from Australia must be registered by TEQSA. Providers that have not been granted self-accrediting authority must also have their courses of study accredited by TEQSA.

TEQSA’s legislative framework

TEQSA’s guiding legislation is the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency Act 2011 (the TEQSA Act). The Act confers powers and functions on TEQSA, among other things, to:

  • register regulated entities as registered higher education providers and accredit courses of study
  • conduct compliance assessments and quality assessments
  • provide advice and make recommendations to the Commonwealth Minister responsible for Education on matters relating to the quality and regulation of higher education providers
  • cooperate with similar agencies in other countries
  • collect, analyse, interpret and disseminate information relating to quality assurance practice and quality improvement in higher education.

TEQSA also has responsibility, as an ESOS agency under the Education Services for Overseas Students Act 2000 (ESOS Act), for regulating all providers delivering higher education to overseas students studying in Australia, providers delivering Foundation programs, and also providers delivering English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students (ELICOS) (where they have an entry arrangement with a registered higher education provider).

Providers in all categories that wish to offer higher education courses to overseas students must be registered on the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS).

Operating environment and risks to achievement of TEQSA’s objectives

TEQSA’s operating environment is characterised by diversity of provider, mission, location and demography. It consists of 175 registered higher education providers spanning universities, TAFEs, and for-profit and not-for-profit independent providers delivering higher education to over 1.1 million students. Almost half of these providers also deliver vocational education and training courses that are subject to regulation by the Australian Skills and Quality Authority (ASQA). Separately, TEQSA also regulates 17 providers of Foundation and ELICOS courses that do not offer higher education courses. The vast majority of students are studying at universities or low risk providers in Australia.

Higher education is one of Australia’s most important exports. Globally, Australia is now the second most popular destination for international students. While the Australian Government continues to be the largest source of revenue for the sector, overseas students account for the greatest source of revenue growth.

Providers registered with TEQSA

Number of providers registered with TEQSA by State

The sector we regulate at a glance

 The sector we regulate at a glance 1

 The sector we regulate at a glance 2

 

TEQSA closely follows developments occurring nationally and internationally that could impact on the agency’s ability to achieve its objectives over the planning period. Higher education is a dynamic global sector and the environment in which TEQSA operates is highly likely to be subject to change in the coming four-year period. As a result, TEQSA must be prepared to provide timely and effective responses to issues that have the potential to affect the sector’s quality as and when they emerge.

What follows identifies those factors which may impact on TEQSA’s four strategic objectives for 2019-23.

1. Quality assure and regulate the sector in a timely, transparent and risk-reflective manner

The risk assessment framework

Formal, systematic risk assessments for each provider serve as a fundamental regulatory tool that informs TEQSA’s policy work and case management operations, thus giving effect to its regulatory principles of reflecting risk, proportionality and necessity, as outlined in the TEQSA Act.

As of 2019, TEQSA had undertaken seven annual cycles of risk assessments across the sector. Risk assessments do not of themselves establish findings in relation to compliance or non-compliance with the Higher Education Standards Framework; that is, risk assessments are not themselves a regulatory decision. Rather, they provide indications as to where TEQSA may require more reassurance that a higher education provider will continue to meet the HES Framework.

The TEQSA Risk Assessment Framework (RAF) enables a consistent, structured, and systematic approach to assessing risk for all higher education providers registered with TEQSA. TEQSA undertakes an annual cycle of risk assessments following data acquisition from national data collections made by the Department of Education, TEQSA itself, and other parties. The RAF establishes the key components evaluated in the risk assessments, the findings of which are aggregated into two overarching areas—Risk to Students and Risk to Financial Position. Providers are rated against the eleven risk indicators in one of three broad categories—low risk, moderate risk, and high risk.

Post-cycle reviews to diagnose aspects of the risk framework that need further improvements to ensure that the indicators are fit-for-purpose are an essential part of the RAF. To ensure the continuing effectiveness of the RAF, TEQSA will be undertaking sector consultation on proposed improvements to our approach to risk and its links to our wider evaluations of providers and courses. We will review the scope, efficiency, currency and availability of data collected and used for risk assessments.

Factors impacting Objective 1

  • Changes to public funding of the sector, including the introduction of performance-based funding, will require close monitoring of the financial health of some providers.
  • Changes to the funding of the Vocational Education and Training sector make the higher education sector attractive to new entrants and may increase the number of applications for initial registration.
  • Changes to the ownership or structure of providers may result in changes to the strategic direction and governance of providers and require close monitoring of continuing compliance with standards.
  • Changing international student demand places additional weight on TEQSA’s monitoring of the exposure of providers and their compliance with quality standards in a market of increased competition for students.
  • TEQSA aligns its international strategy with the Australian Government National Strategy for International Education 2025, monitoring transnational delivery to confirm the quality of provision. Efforts here will include improvements to data about overseas campuses and assuring the achievement of equivalent outcomes for offshore students.
  • Continuing the strong relationship with ASQA, the Department of Education, the Higher Education Standards Panel, and other agencies and bodies to ensure the regulation of sector is efficient and effective.

2. Support providers to deliver high quality higher education, protect student interests and enhance the reputation and competitiveness of Australia’s higher education sector

Cost recovery for TEQSA’s activities

The 2018-19 Budget confirmed that TEQSA will progressively transition from partial cost recovery to a full cost recovery model over a three-year period. This will include the introduction of increased fees for providers for application based services, and a new levy, all of which are proposed to be introduced from 1 January 2020. The change to a full cost-recovery model will require costing processes to be developed in time and to be fit for purpose. TEQSA will also ensure providers have a clear understanding of the basis of charges and how they will be applied.

Factors impacting Objective 2

  • The review of the Australian Qualifications Framework may impact on the shape and type of qualifications, and TEQSA may need to accommodate a change in regulatory scope and prepare new guidance for the sector.
  • The outcome of the Department of Education’s work with professional bodies that accredit higher education courses may require TEQSA to adapt to changes in the regulation of relevant providers and courses to ensure greater alignment and reduction of the regulatory burden.
  • The outcome of the review of the Criteria for Higher Education Providers in Part B of the Higher Education Standards Framework may require TEQSA to review the existing approach to applications for change of category.

3. Provide advice and information to inform decisions about the appropriateness and quality of higher education

Changing needs of students and employers

The changing demands of employers and students to meet the needs of future workplaces are stimulating continued innovation in the use of a range of pedagogies, such as: block delivery; combined VET and higher education delivery; the expansion of micro-credentialing; blended, online and disaggregated learning; and the development of new fields of study. These developments will require TEQSA to develop new regulatory policies for the assessment of compliance in consultation with relevant stakeholders.

Factors impacting Objective 3

  • The outcomes of the AQF review are likely to be highly relevant to TEQSA’s response to emerging and innovative forms of delivery and credentialling.
  • The increasing need for stakeholders to access timely and relevant information for decision-making requires enhanced reporting by TEQSA. Our reports will need to reflect stakeholders priorities and the insights of the agency in relation to evolving trends in risk and quality. The National Register of Higher Education Providers and the TEQSA website play vital roles in ensuring the transparency of regulatory decisions for stakeholders. To ensure the usefulness of the National Register, TEQSA is working on continuing to enhance the presentation and accessibility of the information published.

4. Take prompt and effective action to address substantial risks to students or the sector’s reputation

Sector wide issues

It is likely that unforeseen sector-wide issues will emerge over the course of this corporate plan and there remains a continuing need to review and support the sector’s progress in addressing those that have already emerged. TEQSA will continue to build on our capacity to identify and respond to such issues using a range of strategies. These include enhancing our understanding of emerging issues likely to impact on students and strengthening our strategic use of complaints data to provide early indicators of potential risks to the sector’s quality.

Factors impacting Objective 4

  • Draft legislation to address contract cheating and its impact on academic integrity in the higher education system was released in 2019 by the department. The legislation will allow for legal action to be taken against those offering contract cheating services and TEQSA will have a key role to play in ensuring the effectiveness of the legislation. Support materials will be developed for providers through a series of workshops to identify the barriers providers face in addressing the risk of contract cheating.
  • Work will continue assessing the sector’s response to the report by the Australian Human Rights Commission on sexual assault and sexual harassment, and compliance with the requirements of the Standards relating to student wellbeing and safety.
  • TEQSA will continue to work with the higher education sector on the continuing efforts to make admissions as transparent as possible, enabling students to make their choices on the basis of clear and comparable information. This work will involve the scheduled summative assessment of the sector’s progress in implementing the agreed measures on admissions transparency, for report back to the Minister for Education in early 2020.
  • Concerns regarding English language proficiency of students, particularly of international students, will continue to need to be addressed, both across the sector and with some individual providers. TEQSA is working with other agencies to monitor key risk indicators.
  • During 2018-19, an independent review of freedom of speech was undertaken by the Hon Robert French AC. The review recommended the voluntary adoption of a model code by universities and clarification of the terms ‘freedom of speech’ and ‘academic freedom’. TEQSA has contributed to the review and will work with the sector on the review’s implications for an understanding of responsibilities under the Higher Education Standards Framework.
  • In 2018, the Higher Education Standards Panel released a report on Improving retention, completion and success in higher education. In response to the recommendations of the report, TEQSA has been asked to produce a good practice note on student retention and to examine the effectiveness of systems used to inform students about pathways to employment.

Planning overview and performance

The plan includes references to the performance indicators of the Regulator Performance Framework, and targets necessary to achieve the objectives of the plan over the four-year period of this Corporate Plan.

Planning overview and performance overview

Objective 1: Quality assure and regulate the sector in a timely, transparent and risk reflective manner

Action 1.1: Improve the case management approach

Performance indicator

TEQSA’s dealings with higher education providers are open, transparent and consistent (RPF KPI 5).

Qualitative Target

Timeframe

Review, develop and implement a revised case management approach to regulation with enhanced use of a partnership model

2019-20

Quantitative Target

  • 55% or more of providers rate the case management approach as good or excellent.

Action 1.2: Implement mechanisms to ensure efficient assessment of applications

Performance indicator

Quality assurance and regulation does not unnecessarily impede the efficient operation of higher education providers (RPF KPI 1).

Qualitative Target

Timeframe

Reduce the time taken to make decisions about applications, particularly where the risk of non-compliance is low

2019-23

Quantitative Targets

  • 90% or more of decisions about applications for re-registration from low risk providers are made within six months
  • 90% or more of decisions about applications for accreditation from low risk providers are made within three months
  • 80% of assessment reports and expert reports where adverse findings are reported are sent to applicants for consideration and response within four months of the application date.

Action 1.3: Ensure regulation of the sector is reflective of the risks to students and the sector

Performance indicator

TEQSA’s compliance and monitoring approaches are streamlined and coordinated (RPF KPI 4).

Qualitative Target

Timeframe

Engage with providers about areas for improvement in TEQSA’s approach using feedback from the stakeholder survey

Annual

Streamline evidence requirements further for providers that demonstrate sustained low risk of non-compliance with standards 2019-20
Work with ASQA, other agencies and professional bodies to improve targeting of regulation and to implement government policy regarding professional accreditation 2019-23
Undertake cross border regulatory activity through engagement with international quality agencies 2019-23

Quantitative Targets

  • there is a demonstrated correlation between the risk rating of providers and assessment outcomes for each year.

Action 1.4: Enhance TEQSA’s approach to monitoring, assessment and management of risks

Performance indicator

Improved identification of high risk providers; reduced administrative cost burden for low risk providers; and improved evidence base for decisions about any required regulatory action.

Qualitative Target

Timeframe

Engage with individual providers with high risk ratings to determine the progress and the effectiveness of providers’ risk treatment plans

Annual

Adopt an approach to scoping assessments which aligns with TEQSA’s risk appetite 2019-20
Incorporate broader and timelier sources of information about risks in monitoring of the sector 2019-23

Objective 2: Support providers to deliver quality higher education, protect student interests and enhance the reputation and competitiveness of Australia’s higher education sector

Action 2.1: Consult stakeholders and identify issues and delivery strategies where guidance is required

Performance indicator

The quality assurance and regulatory framework continues to be improved in consultation with relevant stakeholders (RPF KPI 6).

Qualitative Target

Timeframe

Consult relevant stakeholders in reviewing and implementing changes arising from changes to legislation, legislative instruments or regulatory policy

2019-23

Consult the sector on application fees and the annual levy in light of Government policy on cost recovery 2019-20

Quantitative Target

  • 60% or more of stakeholders rate TEQSAs consultation on improvements to the regulatory framework as good or excellent.

Action 2.2: Publish information about regulatory and quality assurance matters

Performance indicator

TEQSA’s communication with higher education providers is clear, targeted and effective (RPF KPI 2).

Qualitative Target

Timeframe

Publish information including guidance notes, good practice notes and other resources about quality based on identified needs

2019-23

Quantitative Target

  • 80% or more of stakeholders surveyed each year rate TEQSA’s communication as good or excellent.

Objective 3: Provide advice and information to inform decisions about the appropriateness and quality of Australian higher education

Action 3.1: Enhance engagement with students

Performance indicator

The quality assurance and regulatory framework continues to be improved in consultation with stakeholders (RPF KPI 6).

Qualitative Target

Timeframe

Meet with the Student Expert Advisory Group regularly to identify and discuss sector wide issues for students, develop resources for students and strategies for the deeper integration of students with TEQSA’s regulatory work

Annual

Action 3.2: Provide information about the sector to inform policy development, good practice and student choice

Performance indicator

Policy makers and other stakeholders are provided with an evidence base for decision making in relation to particular issues.

Qualitative Target

Timeframe

Publish information about key data used or collected by the agency

Annual

Publish timely and accessible information about regulatory decisions on the National Register of Higher Education Providers and on the TEQSA website 2019-23
Engage with the work of the Department of Education and the Higher Education Standards Panel in relation to higher education quality and regulation 2019-23
Deliver an annual conference and a program of forums that highlight key quality issues for the sector Annual

Quantitative Target

  • 75% or more of stakeholders rate the TEQSA Conference and the National Register of Higher Education Providers as good or excellent.

Objective 4: Taking prompt and effective action to address substantial risks to students or the reputation of the sector

Action 4.1: Undertake compliance assessments and take regulatory action to address serious non-compliance

Performance indicator

Regulatory actions undertaken by TEQSA are proportionate to the risks being managed (RPF KPI 3).

Qualitative Target

Timeframe

Ensure compliance assessments involve prompt, targeted action to efficiently and effectively address risks to students or the reputation of the sector

Annual

Action 4.2: Identify and respond to sector-wide risks to students and the reputation of the sector

Performance indicator

TEQSA is effective in maintaining the quality of the sector.

Qualitative Target

Timeframe

Review and implement a new approach to sector-wide risks in collaboration with stakeholders

2019-21

Address sector wide risks in collaboration with stakeholders 2019-23

Quantitative Target

  • 60% or more of stakeholders rate TEQSA’s performance over the last 12 months in assuring the quality of Australian higher education, as good or excellent.

Quality assurance and regulation of higher education

In keeping with contemporary best practice in quality assurance and regulation, TEQSA’s approach:

  • is standards-based, risk-reflective and transparent
  • places a significant emphasis on promoting and facilitating a culture of effective self- assurance as an integral part of a provider’s ordinary operations
  • uses ‘variable-touch’ regulation, in which regulatory intervention is no greater than is required to achieve a necessary regulatory purpose
  • is based on a preferred model of respectful regulatory partnerships, with individual providers and with the sector overall.

TEQSA’s principal purpose is to ensure that quality standards are being met by all higher education providers so that the interests of students and the reputation of Australia’s higher education sector are promoted and protected. The standards are set out in the Higher Education Standards Framework (Threshold Standards) 2015 (HES Framework).

TEQSA’s work is guided by three principles for regulation as set out in the TEQSA Act:

  • reflecting risk
  • proportionate regulation
  • regulatory necessity.

TEQSA has gained considerable insight into risks faced by the higher education sector as well as the most common risks to provider quality assurance practices. TEQSA differentiates between providers with positive track records and low risk of future non-compliance with the standards, and those with poor or limited track records and a substantial risk of future non-compliance.

TEQSA not only takes a provider’s track record and risks of future non-compliance into account, but also ensures that any exercise of its powers is proportionate to actual non- compliance and/or risk of future non-compliance, taking only those actions which are necessary to achieve effective outcomes.

TEQSA’s engagement with stakeholders

TEQSA’s stakeholder engagement is:

  • Purposeful – we begin every engagement with a clear understanding of what we need to achieve
  • Collaborative – we work with our stakeholders in partnership
  • Informative – we provide our stakeholders with the information they need to work with us
  • Transparent – we are open and honest in our engagement with stakeholders
  • Respectful – we acknowledge and respect the expertise, perspective and needs of stakeholders.

TEQSA builds respectful, consistent and open relationships by:

  • using a tailored and targeted approach to maintain communication and cooperation, and where necessary, to advise providers about effective self-assurance practices
  • providing guidance about TEQSA’s processes, insights and experiences for achieving and maintaining effective self-assurance
  • providing information for students and the public about registered providers and their courses through the National Register of Higher Education Providers, and a range of publications and external communications
  • engaging with all providers on TEQSA’s annual risk assessments, where we identify significant risks to students or risks to the financial position of providers
  • consulting and working with peak bodies in the sector about TEQSA’s approach and receiving their feedback and the perspectives of their members.

Ongoing consultation with key sector bodies, including the Independent Higher Education Australia, the Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia, the International Education Association of Australia, TAFE Directors Australia, Universities Australia, the organisations representing groups of universities, and student organisations (including through the TEQSA Student Expert Advisory Group), is crucial to strengthening and improving TEQSA’s processes.

Capability requirements

In order to deliver the objectives of this Corporate Plan, TEQSA will need to continue to develop an effective workforce, ensure an appropriate pool of subject matter experts to assist with our assessments, implement new IT infrastructure to support our complex and growing information management needs, and strengthen our legal capability.

Workforce planning

TEQSA employees are required to be highly skilled with a wide range of knowledge and expertise in higher education, quality assurance, regulation, risk assessment and public sector administration. TEQSA seeks to be an employer of choice offering employees diverse and challenging work that embraces innovation and adaptability.

The 2018-19 Budget enabled an increase in the size of the permanent workforce, following a period of reliance on a contract workforce due to federal budget reductions and constraints on TEQSA’s Average Staffing Level (ASL). The resulting welcome increase in TEQSA’s staffing levels is already yielding improvements in service levels. During the planning period, TEQSA will continue to focus on the effective recruitment and training of new staff, seeking to maximize the benefit for the sector of our increased funding. This is particularly important in light of the very substantial increases in caseload anticipated in 2020 and 2021.

Nevertheless, risks arising from staff turnover in a buoyant jobs market and the attractiveness of TEQSA’s staff to higher education providers and consultants, will continue to need to be managed. To mitigate these risks, workforce planning over 2019-23 will focus on:

  • the use of systems for the recruitment of staff that are effective and efficient and address the risk of continued turnover
  • a revised approach to training and development of staff to ensure staff, and particularly new teams, have the requisite information to undertake their roles
  • documenting the operating procedures for agency functions, and streamlining the procedures for quality assuring higher education providers, and adding provider relationship management to procedures
  • developing effective management approaches for the performance of the agency.

TEQSA Experts

In undertaking regulatory assessments, TEQSA staff use external experts in a range of discipline areas and in specialised higher education learning and teaching methodologies. To enable engagement with sector experts, TEQSA maintains a Register of Experts that staff use to engage experts. These engagements are primarily for course accreditation or re-accreditation applications and the advice of the experts informs the assessment of applications and development of recommendations for decision makers. In 2017-18, TEQSA commenced a review of the management of the Register of Experts and its approach to engagement with TEQSA experts. During 2019-23, the agency will:

  • finalise the review of the selection and management of TEQSA Experts to ensure the diversity of experts in relevant fields
  • develop an enhanced database and a review program for the Register of Experts to better support assessment processes by TEQSA staff
  • build on these initiatives by establishing and supporting a community of practice to update TEQSA Experts on assessment requirements and share best-practice approaches.

Information and Communications Technology and Information Management capability

Timely access to, and appropriate use of, trusted data is required by TEQSA for informed decision making, and to enable innovation and support high quality regulation of the sector. In 2018-19, the agency commenced scoping work for an information management strategy with an initial focus on:

  • development of an improved approach to records management to better integrate the existing systems
  • further development of the existing assessment management database to support the management of workflows and reporting requirements
  • integration of data architecture to support the development of analytics requirements for monitoring the sector.

TEQSA will complete these initiatives for improved information management in 2019-20 while ensuring an improved IT infrastructure to support the enhanced capability.

Legal capability

TEQSA’s Legal Group assists the Commissioners and their delegates to make legally-informed decisions and to develop processes required for effective administrative decision making. The Group also manages claims by or against TEQSA, including dealing with the substantial workload associated with Administrative Appeals Tribunal proceedings involving the agency, and manages the agency’s corporate legal obligations. In 2019-20, as a result of the increased emphasis on cases involving higher risk and the increased number of external review matters, the capability of the group will continue to be strengthened so that the group can continue to provide the necessary legal support to TEQSA. This support will include an agency-wide role in promoting and supporting internal quality management of the processes and documents through which TEQSA’s regulatory assessments and decisions are managed and communicated, and the provision of the necessary investigative and case skills to assist in successful prosecutions of those providing contract cheating services.

Management systems

TEQSA’s effectiveness as a statutory agency is underpinned by robust structures for management and governance, with the Accountable Authority, the Audit and Risk Committee and the Senior Management Team all playing their part in ensuring the agency fulfills its responsibilities under the TEQSA and ESOS Acts.

Governance

TEQSA’s corporate governance framework incorporates regulatory, strategy and management decision-making bodies; an integrated planning and reporting framework; Accountable Authority instructions; policies and procedures; an ethical and accountable organisational culture; and transparency in public reporting.

The Commissioners, acting as TEQSA’s Accountable Authority, have overall responsibility for TEQSA’s regulatory functions:

  • governance
  • planning (corporate plan, budget estimates)
  • financial management
  • risk oversight and management
  • security oversight
  • internal control
  • performance reporting (including annual reports, annual financial statements, annual performance statements) under the TEQSA Act and the PGPA Act.

The Commissioners are also responsible for ensuring the preparation of annual performance reports consistent with the requirements of the Regulator Performance Framework.

Subsection 154(1) of the TEQSA Act states that the CEO of TEQSA is responsible for the management and administration of TEQSA. Subsection 156(2) of the TEQSA Act states that for the purposes of the Public Service Act 1999, the CEO and the staff of TEQSA together constitute a statutory agency, and the CEO is the head of that statutory agency.

The Senior Management Team (SMT) is made up of senior managers led by the CEO. The role of the SMT is to develop, implement, coordinate and oversee the agency’s corporate plan and subsidiary plans. The SMT monitors progress against the corporate plan on a quarterly basis and regularly reports on performance to the accountable authority.

Risk oversight and management

TEQSA has developed systems of risk oversight, management and internal control within the agency, and is committed to the continuous improvement of risk management practices in line with the Commonwealth Risk Management Policy and the Guide to Implementing the Commonwealth Risk Management Policy.

TEQSA’s Enterprise Risk Management Framework is underpinned by:

  • a strong organisational culture
  • a deep understanding of risk in relation to regulatory matters
  • a risk management policy and risk appetite statement
  • an internal control framework
  • an enterprise risk register
  • a Fraud Control and Anti-Corruption Plan
  • arrangements for staff training and support.

TEQSA’s Audit and Risk Committee provides independent assurance to the Accountable Authority on TEQSA’s financial and non-financial performance reporting responsibilities, risk oversight and systems of internal control. This includes reviewing the internal audit program to ensure the focus is on TEQSA’s key areas of financial and operational risk.

TEQSA’s Senior Management Team, the Audit and Risk Committee and the Accountable Authority regularly review the enterprise risk register. During 2019-23, TEQSA will continue to improve its risk culture across the agency. In particular, we will use the results of the annual Comcover Risk Management Benchmarking Survey to identify elements where we should focus on improvement in our risk management maturity level and our overall maturity relative to other comparable agencies.

Agency security

Under the Protective Security Policy Framework, the Commissioners as the Accountable Authority are answerable to the Minister for Education and the government for the security of TEQSA. This requires the Commissioners to:

  • determine TEQSA’s tolerance for security risks
  • manage the security risks of TEQSA
  • consider the implications that their risk management decisions have for other entities, and share information on risks where appropriate.

During 2019-23, TEQSA will focus on the implementation of the mandatory requirements under the Protective Security Policy Framework in a balanced and proportionate way having regard to TEQSA’s available resources and risk profile.