The Australian Government-commissioned Review of the Higher Education Category Standards has been completed and the Final Report handed to the Australian Government. The Report includes a proposal, put forward by ITECA, that a new category be created to support and acknowledge those providers that achieve additional requirements to incentivise excellence in higher education.
Key Issues —
The Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia (ITECA) has been actively engaged with its members to ensure that the views of the independent higher education sector are reflected in the Review of the Higher Education Provider Category Standards.
The Category Standards are a part of the Higher Education Standards Framework (Threshold Standards) 2015 legislative instrument. They define different categories of higher education providers, and requirements expected of them, for registration by the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA).
The Review was announced as one of a package of education reform measures in the 2017 Budget. It was designed to ensure the Provider Category Standards support the Australian Government’s goals for a diverse high-quality higher education sector that meets the needs of students, employers, the sector and the wider community.
In October 2018 the Minister for Education, the Hon Dan Tehan MP, announced the appointment of Emeritus Professor Peter Coaldrake AO to lead the Review of the Provider Category Standards. This Review has involved consultation with ITECA, as a key stakeholder in the higher education system.
With the active support of independent higher education members, ITECA tendered a submission that was student-centric. It reflected the commitment of the ITECA members to providing quality outcomes where individuals have access to learning opportunities and the capacity to select a higher education provider who can deliver the education that meets their needs.
The contribution of ITECA to the process has been important given the independent higher education sector includes more than 130 providers that support around ten per cent of all students undertaking higher education within Australia.
Ongoing engagement with the Australian Government has concluded that there are too many categories of higher education provider. The Report indicates that the number of categories dilutes the reputation of universities and causes confusion amongst students. The Report, handed to Government in early September 2019, recommends reducing the number of categories from six to four.
Significantly, the Report recommends that the current single category covering all 130+ higher- education providers which are not universities, be split into two. This delivers on a recommendation made by ITECA that these categories would support and acknowledge those providers that achieve additional requirements to incentivise excellence in higher education. Criteria could include governance and academic arrangements, past student experiences, teaching quality and other robust indicators of differentiation.
The ability of ITECA to positively influence the Review of the Category Standards highlights the importance of member-driven advocacy with ITECA.
ITECA’s ability to play a lead role in matters associated with this issue rests on the advice and guidance of individuals serving on the ITECA Higher Education Reference Committee.
For more information on this issue please send an email to email@example.com or telephone 1300 421 017. Stay up to date via Twitter @ITECAust or via Facebook at www.facebook.com/ITECAust.
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