New Legislation Establishes Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency
Canberra, Australia (News4us.com) March 24, 2011
Today the Australian Government will continue the transformation of Australia’s higher education system by introducing legislation to establish the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA).
The Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency Bill 2011 and Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (Consequential Amendments and Transitional Provision) Bill 2011 will establish TEQSA as a new national regulatory and quality assurance agency for higher education.
“As the higher education sector goes through a period of expansion, it is important for Australia to have a national system of regulation to assure the quality of all providers,” said Senator Chris Evans, Minister for Tertiary Education.
“TEQSA’s provider standards will underwrite public confidence in research and research training, alongside coursework teaching and learning,” said Senator Kim Carr, Minister for Research.
The establishment of TEQSA was a key recommendation of the Bradley Review of Higher Education.
TEQSA will combine the regulatory activities currently undertaken in the states and territories with the quality assurance activities undertaken by the Australian Universities Quality Agency (AUQA). This will reduce the number of federal, state and territory regulatory and quality assurance bodies from nine to one.
“This will improve the consistency of regulation across the country and enable for appropriate action to be taken when issues of poor quality are identified,” Senator Evans said.
“It will ensure that the anticipated future growth of the higher education system does not come at the expense of quality.
“I welcome the support that the Government has received in developing the TEQSA legislation from Universities Australia, the Council of Private Higher Education, TAFE Directors Australia, the Australian Council for Private Education and Training, the National Tertiary Education Union, the Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations and the National Union of Students.”
A key feature of the legislation is the inclusion of three basic principles of regulation to which TEQSA must adhere. These principles require TEQSA to take into account the scale, mission and history of each provider and allow high-quality, lower-risk providers to operate without unnecessary intrusion.
Senator Carr said the legislation would help ensure the independence and diversity of the nation’s universities.
“The Gillard Labor Government understands the importance of an independent university sector that is sustainable and delivers excellence in both education and research,” Senator Carr said.
The TEQSA Bill provides for universities to continue to operate under the State Acts establishing them, preserving the important role of each university’s governing council.
The Government has also explicitly made provision for the transfer of a provider’s self-accrediting authority to the new regulatory environment upon the establishment of TEQSA. A university’s authority to self-accredit will be further enshrined in the Provider Standards.
Given the importance of the TEQSA legislation for the future of higher education, the Government will now refer the Bills to the Senate Standing Committee on Education, Employment and Workplace Relations.
Responsibility for administering TEQSA is shared between the Minister for Tertiary Education and the Minister for Research.
Further information on TEQSA is available at www.deewr.gov.au/TEQSA.
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