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Raffles College Pty Ltd: Re-registration 25 Jan 2016

Renewal of registration

Report on application for renewal of registration of Raffles College Pty Ltd

 

TEQSA has agreed to orders made by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal under which the registration of Raffles College Pty Ltd trading as Raffles College of Design and Commerce (RCDC) as a higher education provider will be renewed for a period of two years to 22 December 2017 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 imposition of conditions on the registration of RCDC under subsection 32(1) of the TEQSA Act. A copy of the conditions is available at Attachment 1.

Background to Decision

RCDC applied to TEQSA for registration in the category of Higher Education Provider under Part 3 of the TEQSA Act.

TEQSA considered RCDC's application and sent RCDC a draft summary of findings with details of the assessment of RCDC's application by the responsible case management team. TEQSA's Commission considered RCDC's response to the draft summary of findings and made a decision to reject RCDC's application for registration on 21 August 2014 on the basis that it was not satisfied that RCDC met the Threshold Standards. TEQSA's reasons for rejection of RCDC's application included, but were not confined to, TEQSA's lack of satisfaction that RCDC had effective mechanisms to manage and quality assure arrangements it had for delivery of its courses at a number of its associate colleges in other countries.

RCDC applied for review of TEQSA's decision in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT). In the course of the proceedings, RCDC made submissions and provided further information and evidence about the matters raised in TEQSA's decisions. TEQSA engaged external experts to review the further material.

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 RCDC's application.

Main Reasons for Decision

After reviewing the further material submitted by RCDC and participating in mediation with RCDC, TEQSA was satisfied that RCDC meets the Threshold Standards. However TEQSA considered that there remained a number of risks related to RCDC's capacity to meet the Threshold Standards in the future, particularly in relation to the delivery of its courses at certain locations outside Australia. On this basis, TEQSA agreed that it was appropriate to substitute TEQSA's initial rejection of the application with decisions to register RCDC for a period of two years and to impose a number of conditions on RCDC's registration.

The conditions are designed to address the following risks:

  • The effectiveness of RCDC's corporate and academic governance of its higher education operations and RCDC's capacity to manage and effectively quality assure those operations, including arrangements for delivery of its courses at its associate colleges, in accordance with Provider Registration Standard (PRS) 1.3, 3.2, 3.4, 3.7, 3.8 and 4.5 and Provider Course Accreditation Standard (PCAS) 1.9 and 1.10. In order to address these immediate risks, RCDC is required to cease to deliver certain of its courses entirely, and to effectively confine delivery of remaining courses to specified associate colleges. RCDC must also undertake reviews of its continuing undergraduate courses and of its continuing associate colleges. Its Academic Board is required to consider the findings and recommendations from the reviews and develop plans to implement the recommendations.
  • The need for RCDC to have, as required by PRS 2.3 and PCAS 6.2, financial and tuition safeguards and transition plans in place for students when its ceases or discontinues a course of study at any of its delivery sites to ensure that its students are appropriately protected. In order to address this risk RCDC will also be required to obtain a guarantee of RCDC's liabilities from its parent company.
  • The need for RCDC to put in place robust internal processes for design, approval and review of its courses of study, undertake a review of its courses to ensure they meet the specifications of the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) and ensure that student learning outcomes at its associate college delivery sites are equivalent to those when the course of study is offered directly by RCDC, as required by PCAS 1.1, 1.2, 1.7, 1.9 and 1.10.
  • The need for RCDC to ensure it has appropriately qualified personnel, including teaching staff qualified to at least one AQF qualification level higher in the relevant discipline than the course being taught, to manage and to provide academic leadership at all locations at which its courses are delivered as required by PRS 4.5, 5.1 and 5.2 and PCAS 4.1 and 4.2. In order to address this risk, RCDC will be required to provide TEQSA, before commencement of each semester, details of teaching staff's relevant AQF qualification level or evidence of their equivalent professional experience.

TEQSA is satisfied that the conditions will provide a framework for TEQSA to oversee the key risks associated with RCDC's corporate and academic governance arrangements, its quality assurance of its higher education operations at its continuing associate colleges and its responsibilities to students in Australia and offshore. The conditions will also enable TEQSA to closely monitor the effectiveness of RCDC's planned reviews of its associate colleges and courses to ensure that RCDC implements effective quality assurance arrangements for systematic monitoring, review and improvement of its domestic and offshore higher education operations and robust process for review of its courses.

The conditions also ensure that RCDC ceases to offer courses where there are substantial risks that students will not achieve course learning outcomes and will ensure appropriate protection for students who are unable to continue their courses.

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 RCDC addresses the risks identified above.

Attachment 1

Conditions imposed on the registration of Raffles College Pty Ltd trading as Raffles College of Design and Commerce (RCDC).

i. RCDC must cease to deliver the following higher education courses by 31 January 2016:

1) Associate Degree of Commerce

2) Bachelor of Accountancy

3) Bachelor of Commerce

4) Graduate Certificate of Commerce

5) Graduate Diploma of Commerce

6) Master of Design

7) Master of Commerce

ii. RCDC must cease to deliver all of its higher education courses at all of its associate colleges, except its associate colleges in Colombo, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, by 1 February 2016;

iii. RCDC must not allow any course of study leading to a regulated higher education award of RCDC to be delivered at any site at which those courses were not delivered as at 30 November 2015;

iv. by 1 July 2016, RCDC must enter into one or more arrangements which would enable the transfer of all students enrolled in a RCDC higher education course at Colombo, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore to a mutually agreed course at another higher education provider of equivalent standing, should such transfer become necessary, as required by section 6.2 of the Provider Course Accreditation Standards;

v. RCDC not permit any new students to enrol in a higher education course, or commence a higher education course, after the date of this order, at its Colombo associate college;

vi. a legally enforceable and unconditional guarantee be obtained from Raffles Education Corporation to meet any of RCDC's liabilities that RCDC is unable to meet for the period of RCDC's registration and a copy of that guarantee be provided to TEQSA within fourteen days after the imposition of this condition;

vii. RCDC must maintain a separate bank account with an Australian ADI (within the meaning of section 9 of the Corporations Act 2001) that has at all times a credit balance no lower than the total amount necessary to repay all pre-paid fees related to the provision of a RCDC higher education course to each person who has enrolled in, but not commenced, a RCDC higher education course;

viii. RCDC must:

1) by 1 February 2016 provide TEQSA with a copy of the reports from its reviews of each of its undergraduate course, a copy of the minutes of any Academic Board meeting which record the Academic Board's response to the reports and a proposed implementation plan to address the recommendations in the reports;

2) by 22 February 2016 provide TEQSA with a final implementation plan to address the recommendations from its course reviews which incorporates any amendments requested by TEQSA prior to 15 February 2016

3) implement the implementation plan at (viii)(2) above.

ix. RCDC must:

1) by 1 February 2016 provide TEQSA with a copy of the reports from its reviews of each of its continuing associate colleges, a copy of the minutes of an Academic Board meeting which record the Academic Board's response to the reports and a draft implementation plan to address the recommendations in the reports;

2) by 22 February 2016 provide TEQSA with a final implementation plan to address the recommendations from the associate college audits which incorporates any amendments by TEQSA prior to 29 January 2016;

3) implement the implementation plan at (ix)(2) above.

x. RCDC must provide TEQSA with a report, not later than 4 weeks prior to the commencement of each semester for its higher education courses, which, in relation to each staff member at each location proposed to teach one or more units in a RCDC higher education course, describes:

1) the highest qualification in the discipline of the course being taught;

2) the units proposed to be taught;

3) the professional experience held; and

4) a summary of how RCDC's revised Academic Staff Qualifications and Experience Policy has been applied to that staff member.

xi. RCDC must provide TEQSA with a report every three months, with the first report due by 1 March 2016, which describes RCDC's response to the remaining issues in its plan of action, and which includes copies of the minutes of meeting of the governing Council and academic board which consider the draft report.