Our Commissioners are appointed by the Commonwealth Minister for Education based on their expertise in higher education quality assurance and regulatory practice. Commissioners are responsible for making regulatory decisions, setting strategic directions, monitoring risk in the sector and deciding on matters relating to the development of our quality assurance and regulatory functions. The Commissioners are TEQSA's accountable authority.
TEQSA's Commissioners also inform the higher education sector about our work and the responsibilities of higher education providers under the Australian Government’s regulatory system. Our Commissioners are:
Professor Nick Saunders AO (Chief Commissioner)
Professor Saunders was previously Provost and Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Bond University, having taken up this position after retiring as Vice-Chancellor of the University of Newcastle, Australia. His other senior academic roles include: Dean of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences at Monash University (1998-2003); Head of the Faculty of Health Sciences and Dean of Medicine, Flinders University (1993-1998); Professor of Medicine at the University of Newcastle (1983-1993); and positions at McMaster University, Canada and Harvard University, USA.
Professor Saunders holds a medical degree with first class honours from the University of Sydney and has been influential in the advancement of medical education and research through his extensive contribution to, and participation on, many higher education, research and health care national committees, councils and State Government bodies.
During his career, Professor Saunders has been Chair of the National Health and Medical Research Council; a member of the Higher Education Council, the Prime Minister’s Science, Engineering and Innovation Council, the Australian Research Council and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Council; Chair of the Committee of Deans of Australian Medical Schools; Chair of the Postgraduate Medical Council of NSW; member of the Board of Universities Australia and Lead Vice-Chancellor for research and international activities; and member of the Victorian Premier’s Council for Knowledge, Innovation, Science and Engineering, and the 2011 Ministerial Review of Health and Medical Research in NSW.
Professor Saunders was a member of the Council of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians and Chair of the College’s Board of Continuing Education. He currently holds the part-time position of Chair of the Repatriation Medical Authority of Australia.
In 2012, he was appointed an Officer in the Order of Australia in recognition of his contribution and distinguished service to medicine and higher education.
Emeritus Professor Peter Coaldrake AO (Commissioner)
Emeritus Professor Peter Coaldrake AO, completed his almost fifteen-year term as Vice-Chancellor and CEO of Queensland University of Technology (QUT) in December 2017, and is a former Chair of both the peak body for Australia’s Universities, Universities Australia (UA) and the governing board of the OECD’s then higher education group (IMHE).
Professor Coaldrake is currently the Chair of the Board of the Queensland Performing Arts Trust, and a Board Member of the Queensland Community Foundation. Upon accepting his appointment as a Commissioner of TEQSA he is stepping down from two other roles, as Chair of Jobs Queensland and as an external Council member of The University of Newcastle.
In October 2018 he was appointed by Federal Education Minister, the Honourable Dan Tehan, to conduct a review into the Higher Education Provider Category Standards. In 2018 he also undertook two separate Reviews for the Queensland government: one dealing with the present and future Queensland public sector workforce, and the other of the future of vocational education, training and skilling in central-western Queensland, focusing on the performance of the Agricultural Colleges.
A dual Fulbright scholar, Professor Coaldrake has authored or edited a number of books and monographs including, most recently, Raising the Stakes: Gambling with the Future of Universities (co-authored with Dr Lawrence Stedman, UQP, 2013; 2nd ed. 2016).
He is the recipient of a ‘Queensland Great’ Award (2017) and the Asia Pacific Leadership Award by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (2016).
On 19 November 2020, Professor Coaldrake was appointed by the Minister for Education as TEQSA’s next Chief Commissioner. Professor Coaldrake will commence in this role on 1 March 2021 following Professor Saunders’ retirement.
Emeritus Professor Joan Cooper (Commissioner)
Professor Joan Cooper was previously a Higher Education Consultant, a position she took on after retiring as Pro-Vice Chancellor (Students) of the University of New South Wales (UNSW). Her other senior academic executive positions include Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic) at Flinders University, and Dean of Informatics at the University of Wollongong where she served as Chair of the University Senate (Academic Board). She has also held senior positions at two other Australian universities.
Professor Cooper’s most recent work involved delivering a variety of higher education consultancy services to higher education private providers in Australia. Her roles and services included chairing governance committees; reviews of operational areas and reviews and preparation for TEQSA registration, re-registration, and accreditation. She has chaired a number of Governing Councils and Academic Boards for private providers, including TAFE NSW. She was also a member of TAFE NSW Commission Board.
Professor Cooper has wide-ranging experience both nationally and internationally in tertiary education accreditation and quality audits. In the last 10 years she has served on a number of accreditation/quality panels including chairing many panels in Australia, Asia and the Middle East. Professor Cooper also has experience of managing quality audits.
Professor Cooper completed her Bachelor of Mathematics (Honours) and Doctor of Philosophy at the University of Newcastle. She was the foundation Professor of Information Technology at Wollongong University, and the first female professor of IT in Australia. In 2003 she was appointed an Emeritus Professor of Wollongong, a title conferred in recognition of her contribution to the University, and in 2004 she was awarded the University of Newcastle’s Convocation Medal for Professional Excellence. In April 2012 UNSW appointed her as an Emeritus Professor.
Emeritus Professor Cliff Walsh (Commissioner)
After completing undergraduate and graduate degrees in economics at the London School of Economics, Emeritus Professor Cliff Walsh initially came to Australia in 1969 as a PhD Scholar at the Australian National University. His subsequent career-track has been as an academic economist and public policy analyst.
Professor Walsh has held professorial appointments at the University of Adelaide and the Australian National University and visiting appointments at universities in Canada, the USA and the UK. His teaching, research, publications and advisory specialities have featured in public sector economics and public policy; regulatory theory and its application to economic, social and environmental issues; economic and social evaluation of public sector programs and regulatory regimes; and intergovernmental economic, political and administrative relations.
Professor Walsh has also been an advisor to a Prime Minister and State Premiers; an Associate Commissioner for several Productivity Commission Inquiries; an expert advisor to the European Commission and the World Bank; a member of numerous committees of inquiry into public sector policies and programs; and a member of the Australian Competition Tribunal, which reviews appeals on decisions of Australia’s competition regulator, the ACCC. He is currently Emeritus Professor of Economics, and a (honorary) Visiting Research Fellow in the School of Economics, at the University of Adelaide.
Alistair Maclean commenced as TEQSA’s CEO on 1 September 2020.
Prior to his appointment at TEQSA, Alistair was the inaugural CEO of Victoria’s Independent Broad-based Anti-Corruption Commission (IBAC) from 2013-20, where he was responsible for the management of IBAC’s activities and functions. From 2008-13, Alistair was General Manager (External Affairs) with PanAust Ltd, an ASX-listed gold and copper producer.
Alistair was previously an Australian diplomat, serving as Ambassador to Laos from 2004-07, with prior postings to Washington DC and Bangkok. In between, he fulfilled various roles in Canberra, including as a senior advisor to the Prime Minister.
He holds a Bachelor of Arts with Honours from the University of Melbourne and a Master of International Law degree from the Australian National University. Alistair is also a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.
Senior Management Team
The Commission is supported by a Senior Management Team (SMT) comprising the Chief Executive Officer, Executive Director of Regulatory Operations and senior managers. SMT is responsible for the management of our regulatory business, corporate processes and people.
We have established an Audit and Risk Committee in compliance with the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 and PGPA Rule.