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What we do

Students sitting outside studying
The Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) is Australia’s independent national quality assurance and regulatory agency for higher education.

Our purpose is to protect student interests and the reputation of Australia's higher education sector through a proportionate, risk-reflective approach to quality assurance that supports diversity, innovation and excellence.

All organisations that offer higher education qualifications in or from Australia, must be registered by TEQSA. Higher education providers that have not been granted self-accrediting authority (almost all of the non-university providers) must also have their courses of study accredited by us.

The Australian higher education sector includes public and private universities, Australian branches of overseas universities and other higher education providers. Higher education providers offer qualifications ranging from undergraduate awards (bachelor degrees, associate degrees and advanced diplomas) to postgraduate awards (graduate certificates and diplomas, masters and doctoral degrees).   

The Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency Act 2011 (TEQSA Act) which established us as an agency, calls for us to:

  • register regulated entities as higher education providers and accredit their courses of study
  • conduct compliance and quality assessments
  • conduct re-accreditation assessments of courses developed by providers without self-accrediting authority
  • provide advice and make recommendations to the Commonwealth Minister responsible for Education on matters relating to the quality and regulation of higher education providers
  • cooperate with similar agencies in other countries
  • collect, analyse, interpret and disseminate information relating to quality assurance practice and quality improvement in higher education.

What is higher education?

Also known as tertiary education, higher education consists of awards spanning Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) levels 5-10, which include: diplomas; advanced diplomas; associate degrees; bachelor degrees (including honours); graduate certificates; graduate diplomas; masters degrees; doctoral degrees; and higher doctoral degrees.

For more information about higher education AQF levels, visit our Australian Qualifications Framework web page.

What does the higher education sector look like?

The Australian higher education sector is large and diverse. For in-depth analysis of the sector, view our Statistics report on TEQSA registered higher education providers 2018. For a brief overview, see below:

Higher education sector overview infographic

Our approach to quality assurance and regulation

Our regulatory approach is standards and risk-based, and guided by the following three regulatory principles:

  1. regulatory necessity
  2. reflecting risk
  3. proportionate regulation.

For more information view Our approach to quality assurance and regulation.

Our history

In 2008, the Australian Government initiated a Review of Australian Higher Education to examine and report on:

  • the future direction of the sector
  • its fitness for purpose in meeting the needs of the Australian community and economy
  • options for reform.  

This Review, also known as the Bradley Review, recommended a new, independent national regulatory body be responsible for all types of higher education. The review team decided that a national approach would provide a more effective, streamlined and integrated sector, achieving a sustainable and responsible higher education system.

The Australian Government responded to the Bradley Review in 2009, announcing a reform package for higher education. This package expanded the system and created new opportunities for all Australians to reach their potential in higher education. The Government also committed to ensuring that growth in the sector was underpinned by a robust quality assurance and regulatory framework with an emphasis on student outcomes and the quality of the student experience.

We were established by the Government as Australia’s higher education regulation and quality assurance agency in the 2010-11 Budget, with a focus on ensuring that higher education providers meet minimum standards, promote best practice and improve the quality of the Australian higher education sector.  

Our governance

 Nick Saunders, Lin Martin and Cliff Walsh

TEQSA's governance structure consists of our Commission (pictured above), Chief Executive Officer and Senior Management Team. Find out more on Our governance page.

The Australian higher education legal framework

The legal framework which governs Australian higher education consists of the following (click on the arrows for a short overview):

Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Act 2011 

Established TEQSA as an agency and calls for regulation of higher education through a standards-based quality framework with principles relating to regulatory necessity, risk and proportionality. 

Higher Education Standards Framework (Threshold Standards) 2015 (HES Framework)

Applies to all higher education providers. Set by the Minister for Education on the advice of a panel with expertise in the delivery of higher education, they are the minimum level of achievement that a provider must meet and maintain to be registered to deliver higher education courses of study.

Education Services for Overseas Students Act 2000 (ESOS Act)

Applies to providers offering courses to students in Australia on student visas. These include higher education courses, Foundation Programs (except those delivered by schools), and ELICOS programs delivered by higher education providers.

National Code of Practice for Providers of Education and Training to Overseas Students 2018 (National Code 2018)

A set of nationally consistent standards that protect international students. The National Code protects governs courses registered on the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS). Only CRICOS courses can be offered to international students studying in Australia on a student visa.

More information can be found in the Acts and standards section of our website.