Southern Cross Education Institute (Higher Education) Pty Ltd: Initial Registration 30 November 2017
Report on initial registration of Southern Cross Education Institute (Higher Education) Pty Ltd
TEQSA has agreed to orders made by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal under which Southern Cross Education Institute (Higher Education) Pty Ltd (SCEIHE) is registered pursuant to section 21 of the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency Act 2011 (the TEQSA Act) for a period of three years until 30 November 2020 in the provider category of Higher Education Provider. The orders also provide for the accreditation of the Bachelor of Health and Community Services to be offered by SCEIHE, pursuant to section 49 of the TEQSA Act, and for five conditions to be imposed on SCEIHE's registration pursuant to section 32 of the TEQSA Act. A copy of the conditions is available at Attachment 1.
SCEIHE applied to TEQSA for registration in the category of Higher Education Provider under Part 3 of the TEQSA Act.
TEQSA considered SCEIHE's application and sent SCEIHE a draft summary of findings with details of the assessment of SCEIHE's application by the responsible case management team. TEQSA's Commission considered SCEIHE's response to the draft summary of findings and made a decision to reject SCEIHE's application for registration on 27 April 2017 on the basis that it was not satisfied that SCEIHE met the Threshold Standards.
SCEIHE applied for review of TEQSA's decision in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT). In the course of the proceedings, SCEIHE made submissions and provided further information and evidence about the matters raised in TEQSA's decisions.
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 the AAT was required to take account of the further material submitted to TEQSA after TEQSA had rejected SCEIHE's application.
Main reasons for decision
After reviewing the further material submitted by SCEIHE, TEQSA was satisfied that SCEIHE meets the Threshold Standards. However TEQSA considered that there remained a number of risks related to SCEIHE'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 SCEIHE for a period until 30 November 2020, to accredit SCEIHE's Bachelor of Health and Community Services course for the same period, and to impose a number of conditions on SCEIHE's registration.
- The need for SCEIHE to ensure that its corporate governance arrangements demonstrate a clear distinction between governance and management responsibilities, in accordance with Provider Registration Standard (PRS) 3.3;
- The need for SCEI's corporate and academic governance arrangements to demonstrate systematic monitoring, review and improvement, in accordance with PRS 3.8;
- The need for SCEIHE to ensure that its higher education course of study is systematically updated, through internal revision and external reviews, and that its coherence is maintained, in accordance with Provider Course Accreditation Standard 6.1; and
- The need for SCEIHE to have sufficient appropriately qualified and experienced staff to achieve its higher education objectives, in accordance with PRS 5.2, PCAS 4.1 and PCAS 4.2.
TEQSA is satisfied that the conditions will provide an appropriate framework for TEQSA to oversee SCEIHE's approach to dealing with these issues.
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 SCEIHE addresses the risks identified above.
Conditions imposed on the registration of Southern Cross Education Institute (Higher Education) Pty Ltd (SCEIHE)
- By 15 January 2018, SCEIHE must:
- amend the Terms of Reference of its Corporate Board to require that the performance of the CEO be reviewed by the Board at least annually (in the absence of the CEO);
- obtain approval from its Corporate Board (in the absence of the CEO) for a methodology for reviewing the CEO's performance;
- provide TEQSA with a copy of the performance review methodology, together with evidence of the Corporate Board's approval and evidence that the CEO has consented to the methodology following the Corporate Board's approval.
- By 31 July of each year in which SCEIHE is registered as a higher education provider, SCEIHE must provide TEQSA with a copy of the Corporate Board's review of the CEO's performance which is conducted in accordance with the performance review methodology in Condition 1A.
- Implement its Reporting Plan for Academic Governance dated October 2017, with respect to the content, timing and distribution of reports.
- Within two months after the end of each quarter, provide TEQSA with copies of the reports prepared for the previous quarter, accompanied by minutes of any meetings of its Corporate Board or Academic Board at which the reports were considered. The minutes must:
- demonstrate a process consistent with the TEQSA Guidance Notes for the relevant bodies on the matters the subject of discussion; and
- specify the extent to which the discussion took account of external advice or input.
No later than 4 weeks prior to commencing delivery of the Bachelor of Health and Community Services, SCEIHE must provide TEQSA with its response to the matters raised in the report by Dr Maire, including copies of any new or revised documents prepared as part of the response. The response must be accompanied by evidence that the response has been discussed and approved by SCEIHE's Academic Board which includes a copy of the minutes of the meeting(s) at which the discussion and approval occurred.
By 30 March 2018, SCEIHE must prepare, and provide to TEQSA, a revised Risk Register which specifies the risks to SCEIHE's higher education operations, the strategies in place to mitigate those risks and the position(s) responsible for the actions involved in the strategies.
SCEIHE must provide TEQSA with a report, not later than 2 weeks prior to the commencement of each teaching period for its higher education courses, which, in relation to each staff member proposed to teach one or more units in an SCEIHE higher education course, describes:
- the highest qualification in the discipline of the course being taught;
- the unit(s) proposed to be taught and/or assessed;
- the professional experience held; and
- to the extent that the staff member does not have a qualification in a relevant discipline at least one Australian Qualifications Framework level above the course in which they are proposed to teach, a summary of the basis on which SCEIHE assessed that individual as having knowledge, skills and the capacity to apply knowledge and skills equivalent to such a qualification.