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The Australian higher education quality assurance framework

Shah, M. and Jarzabkowski, L. (2013) The Australian higher education quality assurance framework. Perspectives: Policy and Practice in Higher Education, 17 (3). pp. 96-106.

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The Australian government initiated a review of higher education in 2008. One of the outcomes of the review was the formation of a national regulator, the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA), with responsibilities to: register all higher education providers, accredit the courses of the non self-accrediting providers, assure quality against externally set standards and reduce risk by monitoring institutional performance on various measures. One of the key changes in Australian higher education quality assurance is the shift from a ‘fitness-for-purpose’ approach to quality assurance to a compliance-driven approach using an externally developed set of standards monitored by the national regulator, which has legislated powers to place sanctions on universities and other providers for non-compliance. This article outlines the new framework introduced by the government and analyses its limitations in assuring and improving quality in core and support areas. It cautions universities against being dominated by TEQSA's compliance agenda. Rather, it encourages the development and maintenance of shared governance principles and strong internal quality improvement processes along with the establishment of an outcomes focus, which will stand the test of external compliance auditing while allowing the institution to pursue its own educational objectives. The article is based on the authors’ experience and reflection on external, improvement-led quality audits in Australia over the past decade compared with the present compliance-oriented audits now required for institutional registration and ongoing accreditation.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Vice Chancellery
Publisher: Routledge as part of the Taylor and Francis Group
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