Another tough task for TEQSA

Universities gaming the new course model to increase income from UGs is baked-into Education Minister Tehan’s new funding structure, (CMM June 19).  So is the way officials won’t be able to stop it.   

There are reports the Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency will be resourced to stop universities gaming student enrolments, presumably to stop them piling students into high-fee HASS degrees. And a great job TEQSA would do if any institutions did.

But universities keen to keep the foundation disciplines of education in business won’t have to do that.  Instead, they could create new units taught by humanities academics that can legitimately belong in the government’s preferred degree categories – ethics in AI, history and philosophy of science in, well science, social theory in teaching degrees, and so forth and so on.

Such subjects could attract a higher rate of government funding and a lower cost to students than for the same sort of study in humanities degree – CSP funding is to be allocated at unit, not degree level.

Government policy wonks are probably already on to this, working on ways to stop it happening.

But that could create another issue. TEQSA got into all sorts of strife in its first incarnation, with an overly interventionist regulatory approach (CMM August 6 2013). For the agency to be kicking metaphoric doors in searching for humanities units sheltering in STEM could upset universities again.