A material change notification is how providers ensure timely disclosure of incidents or events that may significantly affect a provider’s ability to comply with the Higher Education Standards Framework (Threshold Standards) 2021 (HES Framework) or that require changes to the National Register.
TEQSA understands that serious incidents and changes will happen. When something serious happens TEQSA has an important role in assuring that providers respond appropriately and that students and quality are not adversely affected.
Notifications do not constitute an application for approval to implement changes, as approval is not required. However, TEQSA will follow up if it considers there is a risk of non-compliance with Standards in the HES Framework.
Providers subject to the Education Services for Overseas Students Act 2000 (ESOS Act) and National Code of Practice for Providers of Education and Training to Overseas Students 2018 (National Code) should be mindful of any notification requirements arising from changes in circumstances under the ESOS Act. Information about notifications and approvals required under the ESOS Framework can be found on the TEQSA website. Providers can use the relevant CRICOS change form to notify TEQSA of any changes that require notification under the ESOS Act which will also affect the provider’s compliance with the HES Framework.
Notifying TEQSA of material changes is important for the following reasons:
- It is an obligation under the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency Act 2011 (TEQSA Act)
- Section 29(1)(a) of the TEQSA Act requires that a registered higher education provider must notify TEQSA if an event happens or is likely to happen that may significantly affect the provider’s ability to meet the HES Framework.
- Section 29(1)(b) of the TEQSA Act requires that a registered higher education provider must notify TEQSA an event that will require the Register to be updated in respect of the provider.
- Section 29(2) of the TEQSA Act requires that the notification must be given no later than 14 days after the day the provider would reasonably be expected to have become aware of the event.
- Reporting gives TEQSA assurance that the provider is identifying and responding to risks
Information provided as part of a material change notification provides TEQSA with insight about how the provider has identified risks and is responding to and managing these risks. Where TEQSA has confidence that risks are being managed, there may be no need for any further action by TEQSA. A well-documented notification also enables TEQSA to better understand and address any concerns we receive in relation to the changes.
- TEQSA may need to provide regulatory advice or guidance
Timely notification allows TEQSA to identify any potential issues or concerns at an early stage and, where appropriate, provide further advice or guidance to providers to ensure continued compliance with the HES Framework. TEQSA is confident that most providers are willing and able to be compliant, or to take actions to achieve compliance, when risks or concerns are identified.
While TEQSA’s principal objective is to encourage and facilitate voluntary compliance, TEQSA will, where necessary, take enforcement action. In deciding what response is appropriate, TEQSA will take into consideration several factors, including whether the provider has complied with its duty to notify, and any proactive action the provider has taken to address the non-compliance. For more information, see TEQSA’s approach to compliance and enforcement.
- Reporting allows TEQSA to monitor risks across the sector
The information collected through material change notifications gives TEQSA an insight into risks that may have an impact on multiple providers or the sector as a whole and provide appropriate advice and guidance to providers on potential and emerging risks.
Providers are required to notify TEQSA if an event happens or is likely to happen that may significantly affect the provider’s ability to meet the HES Framework.
What constitutes ‘significant’ will depend on the individual circumstances of the provider, taking into account students, operations, finances, and reputation. It is the responsibility of each provider to decide whether an incident poses a significant risk or threat to its ability to comply with the HES Framework.
When deciding whether or not a change requires reporting to TEQSA, providers should consider:
- The impact of the change. Who and what has been, or may be in the future, impacted by the change. For example, does the change pose a risk to students or the provider’s financial viability.
- The risks and potential consequences. Does the change pose a risk to the provider’s ability to meet the HES Framework or continue its current operations?
- The nature of the change. Is the change a one-off event, or is it a result of, or could lead to, more systemic or ongoing risks?
Providers are required to notify TEQSA of a material change even when the risks associated with the change have been mitigated. This gives TEQSA assurance that the provider is identifying and responding to risks and enables TEQSA to address any concerns we receive in relation to the changes.
The guidance below shows the types of events that should and shouldn’t be reported to TEQSA. This is not a definitive list but is indicative only.
|Event or change||Notification IS required||Notification is NOT required|
|Financial standing||A major shareholder enters into administration.
Why? There is a risk to continued operation and quality of the student experience (Standards 6.2.1c-d)
|A provider institutes a change to an accounting period for financial reporting.|
|Reputation/Good standing||A provider is advised of an unscheduled compliance audit by another regulator.
Why? There is a risk that the provider is not complying with all legislative requirements (Standard 6.2.1a)
|A provider becomes aware that a public interest disclosure has occurred.|
|Governance||There are changes to the membership of a governing body in a provider not established or recognised by Acts of Parliament.
Why? There is a risk to a provider’s corporate governance (Domain 6)
|The terms of reference for the Academic Board are updated.|
|Academic Integrity||A contract cheating incident involving multiple students is discovered.
Why? There is a risk to academic integrity (Section 5.2, Standards 6.2.1j, 6.3.2d)
|A single case of contract cheating is identified.|
|Safety and wellbeing||An investigation into a sexual assault on campus identifies failures in policies and processes designed to protect students.
Why? There is a risk to wellbeing and safety (Standard 2.3)
|A student is injured on campus. The incident is managed by staff following the provider’s relevant policies and procedures.|
|Third party arrangements||A provider becomes aware of serious mismanagement by a third-party provider.
Why? There is a risk to the quality of the student experience (Section 5.4, Standards 6.2.1i, 6.2.1k)
|Delivery arrangements with a third party previously approved by TEQSA are extended.|
|Courses||A provider fails to obtain professional accreditation for a course of study.
Why? There is a risk that students may not complete the course in the expected timeframe or be eligible to practise (Section 3.1, Standards 6.2.1i, 7.2.4)
|Major changes to a course have been made, including changes to the requirements for completing a course.
Why? This requires a course accreditation application
|Information security||A phishing attack disrupts a provider’s IT systems and key services.
Why? There is a risk to information security which could compromise operations (Standard 7.3.3)
|Personal information relating to one student is disclosed without authorisation and corrective action is implemented immediately.|
If you are in any doubt about whether a particular change or event warrants a material change notification, please speak with your case manager.
Provides must notify TEQSA of any of the following changes that require an update to the National Register:
- any change to the name of the legal entity
- any change to the ABN
- any change to the business or trading name
- any change to the details of the provider’s head office
- any change to the provider’s website address
- any change in the name of a course of study.
TEQSA expects providers to submit material change notifications no later than 14 days after the day that the provider would reasonably be expected to have become aware of the event.
- Notifications must be submitted via email to materialchanges [at] teqsa.gov.au.
- The notification should include information such as:
- Details of the change, including when the event happened or will happen, and which standards within the HES Framework it relates to
- Whether the change is temporary or ongoing
- How the provider is managing the change and mitigating any associated risks to ensure continued compliance with the HES Framework
- For unanticipated events, details about how and when the event was detected and whether there was a failure of existing controls to detect and mitigate the risk of non-compliance
- Details of the internal approval process for the change (if applicable)
- Evidence that the relevant body (e.g. the governing body, the audit and risk committee or Academic Board) has been advised of the event and consulted on mitigation plans.
- In the event of multiple changes taking place at the same time, only one consolidated notification is required.
- There is no fee for submitting a material change notification.
Providers will receive email confirmation from TEQSA that the notification has been received. TEQSA will contact the provider if any additional information or clarification is required.
TEQSA is aware that dual-sector providers are also required to notify ASQA of material changes and that ASQA has different reporting requirements. TEQSA and ASQA are working together to try to minimise the difference in the reporting requirements between the two regulators.
For more information on TEQSA’s approach to material change notifications, view our Material Change Notification Policy.
Please contact your case manager if you have any queries regarding material change notifications.