The Higher Education Standards Panel (HESP)

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The Higher Education Standards Panel (HESP) is a legislative 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.

Panel membership

The current members of the Higher Education Standards Panel are:

  • Professor Ian O’Connor AC (Chair)
  • Professor Kerri-Lee Krause (Deputy Chair)
  • The Hon Phil Honeywood (member)
  • Dr Krystal Evans (member)
  • Dr Don Owers (member)
  • Ms Sadie Heckenberg (member)
  • Ms Adrienne Nieuwenhuis (member)
  • Professor Kent Anderson (member)

The Panel has been appointed for the period 26 March 2018 to 25 March 2021.

Higher Education Standards Panel role and responsibilities

The Higher Education Standards Panel (the Panel) is an expert Advisory Body established under the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency Act 2011 (TEQSA Act 2011). The Panel was established to provide independent advice to the Commonwealth Minister(s) responsible for tertiary education and research. The Panel's work is independent of the quality assurance agency, the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA).

The primary functions of the Panel are to advise and make recommendations to the Minister – either at the Minister’s request or the Panel’s own initiative on making, varying the Higher Education Standards Framework (the Standards); and other matters relating to the Standards. The Panel is responsible for advice on how to maintain the quality and standards of Australia’s higher education system.

The Panel can also advise and make recommendations to the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) on matters relating to the Standards – either at TEQSA’s request or the Panel’s own initiative. The Panel must consult interested parties in carrying out its work. If needed, the Panel can establish advisory committees to assist it in performing any of its functions.

Improving transparency of higher education admissions

On 1 February 2016,  Senator the Hon Simon Birmingham, Minister for Education and Training, asked the Higher Education Standards Panel to provide him with options to improve the transparency of higher education student admissions policies, without significantly increasing regulation. 

In response to the Minister's request, the Panel released a consultation paper on 6 April 2016. 

The Panel received 82 written submissions in response to the consultation paper. 

Final report

The Panel made 14 recommendations in its report, which was published on 16 November 2016. Key recommendations include that providers use common and consistent language to describe ATAR thresholds and other admission requirements; and publish information on admissions processes in agreed templates to ensure ease of comparison for prospective students and their parents.

Australian Government response to the Panel's report

The Government has accepted the Panel's recommendations and announced its response to the report. The Government will work with key stakeholders in Australia's higher education sector to develop a joint plan to implement the Panel's recommendations. As many of the recommendations as possible will be delivered for the start of the 2018 academic year.

As a follow-up to the work on admissions transparency, the Minister has asked the Panel to investigate trends in student completion and attrition and how institutions can be encouraged to support enrolled students through to course completion wherever possible. More information on admissions transparency implementation can be found on the Admissions Transparency Implementation Working Group page.