Quality and Legislative Frameworks

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The Government supports a number of programs that enhance and reward the quality and reputation of higher education in Australia.

Quality regulation in higher education

Australia has a strong quality assurance framework which protects the reputation of Australian higher education.

The Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) is Australia's independent national higher education sector regulator. It was established in July 2011 and began its regulatory function from 29 January 2012. TEQSA assures the quality of Australia's large, diverse and complex higher education sector by registering and evaluating the performance of higher education providers, including universities, against the Higher Education Standards Framework.

The Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) is the national policy for regulated qualifications that encompasses all sectors of Australian education and training.   Although some AQF awards are delivered and assessed in secondary schools, the senior secondary school qualification is not assigned an AQF level.

The Department of Education and Training also manages the guidelines for the presentation, content, issuing and authentication of the Australian Higher Education Graduation Statement (AHEGS) and the guidelines for individuals or groups wanting to use the word 'university' in their Australian business, company or domain name.

Review of the impact of the TEQSA Act on the higher education sector

Section 203 of the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency Act 2011 required that the Minister cause a review of the impact on the higher education sector of the TEQSA Act to be conducted. The review was undertaken by Deloitte Access Economics with steering oversight provided by the Higher Education Standards Panel. The Government has accepted the review  report and released its response to its recommendations, along with the report and stakeholder submissionsis.

International education legislation

Australia provides rigorous protection for international students through the Education Services for Overseas Students (ESOS) legislation, which requires institutions that provide education to international students, to meet nationally consistent standards in education delivery, facilities and services. It enables the Australian Government to monitor education providers. Breaches of the Act are treated very seriously and the penalties can be significant.

All institutions wanting to deliver courses to international students in Australia must be registered with the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS), and meet special registration conditions.

The National Code of Practice for Providers of Education and Training to Overseas Students 2017 (the National Code) provides nationally consistent standards for the conduct of registered providers and the registration of their courses.

The standards set out specifications and procedures to ensure that registered providers of education and training courses can clearly understand and comply with their obligations under the National Code. More information on the National Code can be found on the international education website, www.internationaleducation.gov.au .

The Higher Education Standards Panel

The Higher Education Standards Panel is a legislative advisory body, established under the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency Act 2011. The primary functions of the Panel are to advise and make recommendations to the Minister on the Higher Education Standards Framework and other matters relating to 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.

The functions of the Panel and the former TEQSA Advisory Council were combined in December 2014, giving the Panel responsibility to oversight TEQSA's deregulatory approach and performance.