Case for three classes of university

Private provider Navitas suggests spreading the title about

University responses to the Coaldrake Review of provider standards generally agree that “university” should only be used by institutions that teach and research. But $1bn pathway provider Navitas thinks the name can be spread about it.

In a submission to Coaldrake, finally released by the Department of Education, Navitas proposes four categories of higher education providers;

* HE providers which, like now, have no self-accrediting authority

* teaching universities, with “some-level” of self-accreditation, which provide courses up to masters level and doctoral degrees in disciplines where they have staff undertaking research

* specialist universities, also with some accreditation rights. They would undertake research in disciplines where they award doctorates.

* comprehensive universities, institutions now using the title

Navitas’ suggestion is on-song with the discussion paper from the department released when the review was announced and which is widely thought to reflect issues Professor Coaldrake is interested in addressing.

“Should the requirement for universities to offer both undergraduate and postgraduate courses be relaxed, allowing freedom for a university to specialise in only undergraduate or only postgraduate courses, with or without research, as appropriate? Should specialised research institutes with a proven record become eligible to use the ‘university’ title and even offer postgraduate research-based qualifications? While this review presents an opportunity to explore all possible options, the implications of any change must be carefully weighed, particularly where change may have consequences for reputation and outcomes,” (CMM December 10)

But Navitas has another idea, which some universities will like even less than a wider use of their name. While it does not propose a category for third-party providers; “the onus is on the accredited higher education provider to strictly adhere to the Threshold Standards in respect to its third-party arrangements,” Navitas suggests.

“We therefore support greater transparency of these arrangements, including through the potential establishment of a public register administered by the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency.”


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