Legislation has been introduced to the Australian Parliament to establish the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) as a new national regulatory and quality assurance agency for higher education.


The establishment of TEQSA, which was a key recommendation of the Bradley Review of Higher Education, will be effected by the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency Bill 2011 and Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (Consequential Amendments and Transitional Provision) Bill 2011.


TEQSA will combine the regulatory activities currently undertaken in the states and territories with the quality assurance activities undertaken by the Australian Universities Quality Agency (AUQA), reducing the number of federal, state and territory regulatory and quality assurance bodies from nine to one.


Announcing the bills, Senator Chris Evans, Minister for Tertiary Education acknowledged the support in developing the legislation that had been given by Universities Australia, the Council of Private Higher Education, TAFE Directors Australia, the Australian Council for Private Education and Training, the National Tertiary Education Union, the Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations and the National Union of Students.


A key feature of the legislation is the inclusion of three basic principles of regulation to which TEQSA must adhere. These principles require TEQSA to take into account the scale, mission and history of each provider and allow high-quality, lower-risk providers to operate without unnecessary intrusion.


The TEQSA Bill provides for universities to continue to operate under the State Acts establishing them, and preserving the role of each university’s governing council.


The Government has also explicitly made provision for the transfer of a provider’s self-accrediting authority to the new regulatory environment upon the establishment of TEQSA. A university’s authority to self-accredit will be further enshrined in the Provider Standards.


The Bills have been referred to the Senate Standing Committee on Education, Employment and Workplace Relations.


Responsibility for administering TEQSA is shared between the Minister for Tertiary Education and the Minister for Research.


Further information on TEQSA is available at www.deewr.gov.au/TEQSA.