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Reducing regulatory burden during COVID-19 – important update from TEQSA

The following communication was sent to higher education providers on 26 March 2020:

COVID-19 Sector Update

I am writing to advise you of steps that TEQSA is taking to reduce regulatory burden while you grapple with the challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.  

We are committed to supporting your efforts as you respond and adapt to these challenges, and seek to minimise their impact on your students, staff and operations.

TEQSA has a range of strategies to support you, including:

  • ongoing flexibility with regard to limitations on online delivery to international students (requirements 8.19 and 8.20 of the National Code 2018); and similar flexibility in attendance requirements related to ELICOS and Foundation Program providers.
  • supporting providers moving to online delivery of courses to students in Australia or offshore through provision of advice, guidance and access to material relating to maintenance of quality of learning and student wellbeing in an online setting.
  • extending the period of provider registration and course accreditation, thereby deferring the need for renewal applications.
  • extending the timeframes for: lodgement of applications (by shortening the 6 month before expiry requirement); responses to proposed decisions or other actions; and reporting against conditions currently imposed.
  • minimising and deferring requests for information and notifications.

Clearly not all these options will be relevant to your situation or circumstances, and undoubtedly there will be additional suggestions you will have for TEQSA to consider. 

Please be assured that we will engage directly with you over the next few weeks to discuss and develop options relevant to your context and cycle of regulatory assessments. In the meantime, please speak with your case manager if you have immediate questions you wish TEQSA to address. TEQSA will establish and continually update FAQs on its website based on the common questions received from providers.

TEQSA is working closely with other government agencies to seek to maximise the effectiveness of your response and to support your efforts to remain registered, open and compliant with the Higher Education Standards Framework, National Code, ELICOS Standards and Foundation Program Standards.  We are pleased to be meeting with your peak bodies in the next few days to explore what more we can do to support the higher education sector. We will also be working with professional accreditation bodies in an effort to minimise your administrative burden.

Please continue to monitor and follow the latest advice from government via www.australia.gov.au. The latest information and updates from TEQSA are on our website at www.teqsa.gov.au/covid-19.

We look forward to constructive engagement and open discussion with you.

Yours sincerely

Professor Nick Saunders AO
Chief Commissioner and Acting Chief Executive Officer
Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency