It has been almost two years since the revised Higher Education Standards (HES) Framework was introduced to the Australian higher education sector.
Since then, Director of TEQSA’s Assurance Group, Dr. Michael Tomlinson, has been doing the rounds – engaging with institutions and monitoring the sector’s uptake of the new standards.
Ahead of the University Governance & Regulations Forum, we spoke with Dr. Tomlinson to get some further insights into how institutions can ensure the regulator doesn’t come knocking.
Michael, which standards has TEQSA been paying particular attention to recently?
In order to be registered with TEQSA, institutions need to ensure they meet the requirements of all of the HES Frameworks’ standards at all times. However, in recent times there have been a number of key issues that have been of particular importance to us here at TEQSA.
With our chief purpose calling for us to protect student interests and the reputation of Australian higher education, we have been particularly focused on ensuring standards relating to student wellbeing and safety, admissions transparency, academic integrity and third party delivery are being adhered to.
What exactly are you looking for?
We are looking first for clear, visible evidence that higher education providers are implementing the right measures, whether this be in a policy statement, mission statement, or other form of publicly available information.
However, this must also be backed up through action. We need to be satisfied that institutions are following through with their promises, developing and implementing tangible policy frameworks and producing good outcomes for students.
What must institutions be particularly mindful of?
In short, their increased accountability. Institutions and their governing bodies need to be aware that they are fully responsible for the standards of both their own operations and that of their third part contractors. How do members of governing bodies know that the standards are being met at the campuses operated by third parties? What do they know about the state of academic integrity and student wellbeing at those campuses?
What is your ultimate goal?
To work with institutions to ensure the requirements of the HES Framework are not just met, but exceeded. The HES Framework is intended to be used as a framework for internal monitoring of the quality of higher education activities. If TEQSA can support institutions in implementing best practices across the board, we will be well on the way to achieving this goal and our purpose.
How far is there left to go?
Overall we have been impressed by the response of the Australian higher education sector. However, further work needs to be done, particularly on the four topics mentioned previously.
What will you be focusing on at the University Governance & Regulations Forum?
I’ll be talking in further depth about the standards, elucidating any grey areas and opening up discussion to allow attending institutions the chance to raise any practical concerns or issues, with a particular focus on the four topics: student wellbeing and safety, admissions transparency, academic integrity and third party delivery.
Dr. Michael Tomlinson is among an esteemed line-up of speakers to present at the University Governance & Regulations Forum – taking place 24-25 October 2018.