The Higher Education Standards Panel (HESP) is an expert statutory advisory body, established under the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency Act 2011 (TEQSA Act), with responsibility related to the standards for delivery of higher education in Australia.
Role and responsibilities
The Higher Education Standards Panel (HESP) provides independent advice to the Minister(s) responsible for tertiary education and research.
- Making or varying the Higher Education Standards Framework (Threshold Standards)
- Is independent of the quality assurance agency, the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA)
- Is responsible for advice on how to maintain the quality and standards of Australia’s higher education system
- Advises and makes recommendations to TEQSA on matters relating to the Threshold Standards – either at their request or the Panel's own initiative
- Consults with interested parties in carrying out its work
- Establishes advisory committees to assist in performing its functions
|Professor Steve Chapman||Chair|
|Professor Kerri-Lee Krause||Deputy Chair|
|Professor Helen Bartlett||Member|
|Professor Joe Chicharo||Member|
|Professor Doug Hilton||Member|
|Dr David Perry||Member|
|Ms Kadi Taylor||Member|
Go HESP Member profiles to find out more about individual panel members.
Current HESP projects
Modes of delivery in higher education
As part of its 2021-24 workplan, the Higher Education Standards Panel (the Panel) was tasked with examining the quality of online and mixed-mode delivery of higher education by Australian providers to both domestic and offshore students and advising on strategies providers can use to maximise educational outcomes and student experience. This was in light of the rapid changes experienced during the pandemic to deliver higher education online.
The Panel’s particular interest in this issue was to consider whether the Higher Education Standards Framework (Threshold Standards) 2021 adequately addresses online and mixed-mode delivery, as well as to consider the broader quality implications of the shift to increased online and mixed-mode higher education delivery.
To support the Panel’s consideration, the University of Queensland was commissioned to review existing research and data, analyse its implications, undertake targeted stakeholder consultation, and develop a report.
The Panel’s view is that the Threshold Standards, as currently written, provide appropriate thresholds for the quality of delivery of teaching and learning that providers must meet, regardless of mode of delivery. However, the report highlights several areas for further attention by the higher education sector to improve the quality of online and mixed-mode delivery.
The Panel has decided to publish this report as a resource to assist higher education providers to consider the impact of online and mixed mode delivery, and improve their practices and processes for delivery of higher education in these modes. As the sector moves into a new phase where these modes of delivery are increasingly embedded into most institutions’ normal operating practices, it is increasingly important to ensure that the quality of the student experience is optimised regardless of mode of delivery.
Release of Discussion Paper ‘Next steps on improving the transparency of higher education admissions’ for public comment
Following targeted consultation by the Higher Education Standards Panel Advisory Committee on Admissions Transparency (HACAT) earlier in 2022, the Panel released a discussion paper for consultation. This included a proposal to (1) extend sector-agreed admissions information sets to include information for prospective postgraduate and international applicants and (2) change expression of lowest Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank (ATAR) in admission information.
Submissions closed on 2 November 2022.
Further work on admissions transparency
The Panel has established an advisory committee on admissions transparency to help it take forward a new request from the former Minister for Education and Youth, the Hon Alan Tudge MP.
The Minister has asked the Panel to:
- extend the sector-agreed 2017 admissions transparency common terminology definitions and information set specifications to include information on admission requirements for postgraduate courses and information targeted to international students interested in seeking admission to Australian courses;
- ensure the inclusion within student ATAR data profiles of all recent higher education students, regardless of whether ATAR was a factor in the student's admission
- review the common terminology definitions and information set specifications agreed in 2017 to assess whether other aspects of these should be refined or otherwise amended; and
- work with relevant stakeholders to ensure sector ownership of and buy-in to any proposed updates to terminology and data specifications
The Panel will also analyse changes in the landscape of admissions processes that have arisen since the Panel’s 2016 report Improving the Transparency of Higher Education Admissions, particularly in light of the sector’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, and assess the impact of these changes.
The members of the advisory committee on admissions transparency, which will operate throughout 2022, are:
- Professor Kerri-Lee Krause, Deputy Chair, Higher Education Standards Panel and Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor Avondale University (Chair)
- Professor Arshad Omari, Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor Edith Cowan University (responsibility for student experience, academic and university governance)
- Ms Connie Merlino, Academic Registrar RMIT University
- Ms Catriona Jackson, Chief Executive Officer Universities Australia
- Professor Kathryn von Treuer, Chief Executive Officer Cairnmillar Institute
- Ms Natalie Simmons, Chief Executive Officer ICHM
- Professor Martin Westwell, Chief Executive South Australian Certificate of Education Board
- Mr Stuart Mossman, Chair Australasian Conference of Tertiary Admission Centres (ACTAC), Chief Executive Officer SATAC
- Ms Sarah Bux, Student at La Trobe University
- Mr Alistair Maclean, Chief Executive Officer Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency
The Panel agreed to Terms of Reference for the advisory committee at its 16 November 2021 meeting.
Academic Credit Recognition
In 2018, the former Minister for Education and Training, Senator the Hon Simon Birmingham, requested the Panel’s advice on whether credit transfer policies and the standards in higher education are adequately meeting the needs of students and institutions, noting the 2019 Review of the Australian Qualifications Framework.
On 30 March 2020, the HESP provided its advice and proposed amendments to the Threshold Standards to the Minister for Education, the Hon Dan Tehan.
To support the Panel’s consideration, PhillipsKPA consultants were commissioned to undertake background research and provided an Academic Credit Recognition report.
Amending the Higher Education Standards Framework - Provider Category Standards
In October 2018 the Minister Tehan asked Emeritus Professor Peter Coaldrake AO to review the Higher Education Provider Category Standards (PCS), which form Part B of the Higher Education Standards Framework (Threshold Standards) 2015. The HESP was asked to be the steering committee for the review.
- A discussion paper was released for the review in late 2018.
- Professor Coaldrake’s final report proposed 10 recommendations
- The Australian Government’s response accepted the aim of all of these proposed recommendations
The Minister asked the HESP to provide advice on amendments required to the Threshold Standards to implement the Review recommendations. The Panel undertook a consultation process that closed on 14 April 2020 supported by a discussion paper and provided its advice to the Minister on this matter.
- Final report: Improving retention, completion and success in higher education: was provided in June 2018. All 18 recommendations were agreed to in the Government’s Response. Minister Tehan asked higher education providers to implement the Panel’s recommendations, with a particular focus on the development of institutional student retention strategies, taking account of the range of factors and interventions canvassed in the Panel’s report.
- Advice on the impact of professional accreditation in higher education and opportunities to reduce the regulatory burden: was provided to the Australian Government in February 2018. This Panel’s advice was informed in part by a report commissioned from PhillipsKPA consultants, Professional Accreditation: Mapping the territory. The Government accepted the Panel’s advice in principle.
- Improving transparency of higher education admissions was provided on 16 November 2016. The Panel's recommendations on options to improve the transparency of higher education student admissions policies were accepted in the Government's Response to the Higher Education Standards Panel's report.