Victorian Institute of Technology Pty Ltd: Initial Registration 22 Oct 2014
Report on initial registration of Victorian Institute of Technology Pty Ltd
TEQSA has agreed to orders made by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal under which Victorian Institute of Technology Pty Ltd (VIT) will be registered as a higher education provider for a period of five years to 31 October 2019 under subsection 21(1) of the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency Act 2011 (the TEQSA Act) in the provider category of 'Higher Education Provider'.
These orders also involve the accreditation of VIT's Bachelor of Information Technology and Systems for the same period under subsection 49(1) of the TEQSA Act, and the imposition of conditions on the registration of VIT under subsection 32(1) of the TEQSA Act.
Background to Decision
VIT applied to TEQSA for registration in the category of Higher Education Provider under Part 3 of the TEQSA Act. Section 25 of the TEQSA Act requires a registered higher education provider to offer at least one accredited course. The application process included consideration of VIT's application for accreditation of the Bachelor of Information Technology and Systems, under Part 4 of the TEQSA Act.
TEQSA considered VIT's application for registration in the first instance and sent VIT a draft summary of findings with details of the assessment of VIT's application by the responsible case management team. TEQSA's Commission considered VIT's response to the draft summary of findings and made a decision to reject VIT's application for registration on 1 August 2013 on the basis that it was not satisfied that VIT met the Threshold Standards. As VIT's application for registration had been rejected, VIT's accreditation application was also rejected as, under section 49 of the TEQSA Act, TEQSA can only accredit a course of study if Victorian Institute of Technology Pty Ltd is a registered higher education provider.
VIT applied for review of TEQSA's decisions in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT). In the course of the proceedings, VIT made submissions and provided further information and evidence about the matters raised in TEQSA's decisions. TEQSA engaged an external expert to review the further material with respect to VIT's course.
It is well established that absent a specific legislative provision to the contrary, the AAT is generally required to make a decision on review based on the evidence available at the time of the AAT's decision on review, and that the AAT is not confined to the evidence available at the time of the primary decision. Accordingly, TEQSA accepted that it was required to take account of the further material submitted to TEQSA after TEQSA had rejected VIT's applications.
Main Reasons for Decision
After reviewing the further material submitted by VIT, and having regard to the advice of the external expert, TEQSA was satisfied that VIT meets the Threshold Standards. However TEQSA considered that there remained a number of risks related to VIT's capacity to meet the Threshold Standards in the future. On this basis, TEQSA agreed that it was appropriate to substitute TEQSA's initial rejection of the applications with decisions to register VIT for a period of five years, to accredit VIT's course for the same period, and to impose a number of conditions on VIT's registration.
The conditions are designed to address the following risks:
- VIT's capacity to sustain quality in its higher education operations based on realistic projections for student demand in accordance with Provider Registration Standards (PRS) 2.1 and 2.2, including whether a failure to meet the projections would affect VIT's capacity to apply necessary resources to ensure the achievement of its higher education objectives.
- The need for VIT's Institute Council to monitor potential risks to its operations and put in place strategies to mitigate risks that may eventuate, to protect academic integrity and quality through academic governance arrangements that provide a clear and discernible separation between corporate and academic governance, and to ensure effective development, approval, implementation and review of all policies, in accordance with PRS 3.4, 3.7 and 3.8.
- The need for VIT to put in place effective policies and measures to ensure the integrity of student assessment, to prevent, detect and address academic misconduct by students or staff, including cheating and plagiarism, and to ensure VIT's academic staff would be free to make public comment on issues that lie within their area of expertise, in accordance with PRS 4.3.
- The need for VIT to implement plans to collect and review data on higher education programs through assessment moderation and benchmarking with similar institutions; employer satisfaction feedback and discussion with employers and industry bodies, in accordance with PRS 5.6.
- The need for VIT to have in place transition, implementation or staffing plans to ensure its student support arrangements meet the needs of its higher education students in accordance with PRS 6.5.
- The need for VIT to ensure that content and assessment of its course will lead to the learning outcomes specified in the unit descriptions being achieved, and that the necessary library resources are in place to support the development of these learning outcomes, in accordance with Provider Course Accreditation Standards (PCAS) 1.1, PRS 7.1 and 7.2 and PCAS 2.3.
- The need for VIT to put in place teach out and course transition plans in case VIT ceases to provide its higher education course, in accordance with PRS 2.3 and PCAS 6.2.
- The need for VIT to put in place a policy and/or detailed implementation plan for the data collection outlined in its Continuous Improvement of the Higher Education Program(s) Policy, and to use the data for the ongoing review and improvement of VIT's higher education operations, in accordance with PRS 3.8 and PCAS 4.2, 5.4 and 6.2.
- The need for VIT to appoint suitably qualified personnel in accordance with PCAS 4.1 and 4.2.
These risks leading to these conditions reflect VIT's ongoing development from an established provider of Vocational Education and Training to delivery of its first higher education course. TEQSA is satisfied that the conditions will provide a framework for TEQSA to oversee the key risks associated with this development. In many cases, the conditions provide for requirements prior to the commencement of VIT's delivery of its higher education course, ensuring that the necessary arrangements will be in place for students once delivery commences.
In accordance with subsections 32(2) and 32(3) of the TEQSA Act, TEQSA may vary or revoke a condition imposed on the registration of a higher education provider, either on its own initiative, or upon application by the provider for variation or revocation. Accordingly, TEQSA will have the capacity to vary or revoke the conditions as VIT addresses the risks identified above.
Conditions imposed on the registration of Victorian Institute of Technology Pty Ltd (VIT)
1. Prior to 31 December 2014 VIT must:
a) review its projections for student demand and where necessary revise its projections taking into account the resources available to VIT and market characteristics, and provide a copy of any revised projections to TEQSA;
b) analyse whether its revised projections would affect its capacity to apply the resources necessary to ensure the achievement of its higher education objectives;
c) adjust its financial forecasts to take into account its historical performance including:
i) expenditure on contractors, consultants and commissions; and
ii) expenditure or strategies to support above trend growth.
d) provide TEQSA with evidence of its capacity to provide sufficient funding to support its start-up phase, and to continue to support its operations should its projections not be realised.
2. By 15 August 2015 and every 12 months thereafter, VIT must provide TEQSA with its most up to date interim management reports/accounts including, but not limited to, a detailed Income Statement, standard Balance Sheet and Cash Flow Statement for the current reporting year. This report must include the latest detailed Year-To Date actual performance (e.g. revenue and expenses, operating cash flow) compared to Year-To-Date budget. The budget must include all supporting assumptions (e.g. student numbers, fees, staff numbers/costs, overheads, other key revenue and cost items). This requirement is in addition to the annual reporting requirements in Section 27 of the TEQSA Act.
3. By 31 December 2015 the Institute Council must provide minutes of its meetings for the preceding 12 months to TEQSA which show:
a) that it maintains oversight of its financial position and financial performance;
b) that it monitors potential risks to its operations and has strategies to mitigate risks that may eventuate;
c) that it protects and maintains academic integrity and quality;
d) that it has effective development, approval, implementation and review of all policies; and
e) the nature of its considerations in relation to any of its policies or procedures, including any recommendations and changes to those policies and procedures.
4. By 31 December 2014, VIT must provide TEQSA with a revised framework for academic integrity in relation to academic misconduct and freedom of academic comment.
5. By 31 December 2015, VIT must provide TEQSA with evidence of its benchmarking agreements and by 31 December 2017, VIT must provide TEQSA with a report that provides evidence of the activities implemented under those agreements.
6. Not later than one month prior to the commencement of its course delivery, VIT must provide TEQSA with evidence of how it will develop its current operations to address the academic learning needs of higher education students.
7. Not later than one month prior to the commencement of its course delivery VIT must provide TEQSA with:
a) its unit materials (including teaching and assessment materials) for at least two units for years 1 and 2 of the course (four units in total), which demonstrate how the content and assessment of the units will lead to the learning outcomes specified in the unit descriptions being achieved;
b) evidence which demonstrates how the course will expose students to technologies other than Microsoft™ products to ensure graduates have access to a broad and coherent body of knowledge, and provide information on its strategies to achieve this; and
c) evidence that the necessary library acquisitions and subscriptions have been made consistent with VIT's plans and budget.
8. By 31 December 2015, VIT must review its Teach Out Plan and develop either a formalised teach out and transition agreement with another registered higher education provider or a detailed implementation plan to support its Teach Out Plan. VIT must provide the formalised agreement or the implementation plan to TEQSA within one week of the document being agreed or finalised.
9. No later than one month prior to the commencement of its course delivery, VIT must provide TEQSA with a revised policy and/or detailed implementation plan for the data collection outlined in its Continuous Improvement of the Higher Education Program(s) Policy.
10. By 31 March 2016, VIT must provide TEQSA with a report on the analysis of and its actions taken in response to the data collected and/or reviews undertaken for the first full year of delivery of its higher education course. The report should encompass the data sources, specified as paragraphs a-i of Victorian Institute of Technology Pty Ltd's Continuous Improvement of the Higher Education Program(s) Policy, in its activities.
11. No later than one month prior to the commencement of its course delivery, VIT must provide TEQSA with evidence of the appointment of suitably qualified personnel.