Not so big TEQSA tick for Murdoch U

The Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency has re-registered Murdoch U, but for four years – instead of seven, which is the norm for universities

What’s happened: TEQSA states that on the basis of the university’s June 2020 renewal application it concluded, “Murdoch was at risk of not continuing to meet the relevant requirements” of legislated performance standards that apply to all universities.

TEQSA’s specific concerns are with university governance, “to the extent which”;

* “Murdoch’s governing body has sufficiently managed and mitigated material risks identified in its operations

* “the Academic Council adequately identifies, mitigates and maintains oversight of material risks that impact teaching and learning quality at Murdoch.

* Course review and improvement activities (Standard 5.3.4) and the extent to which Murdoch has established systematic benchmarking of student performance data across comparable courses.

TEQSA states it considered placing conditions on the university’s registration but “will afford Murdoch the opportunity to undertake the necessary actions to address these risks through a voluntary undertaking.”

However, the regulator appears intent on monitoring progress. “The voluntary undertaking sets out the actions Murdoch intends to take to address most of the identified risks. It will also provide a suitable framework for Murdoch to demonstrate on-going improvements to its corporate and academic governance arrangements and the monitoring, review and improvement of its courses.”

The university also attracted TEQSA’s attention before its last registration expired. The agency undertook a long “compliance assessment” following allegations on ABC TV’s Four Corners in May 2019, about international student standards at a number of Australian universities, including Murdoch U, which MU strenuously rejected.

“TEQSA found that Murdoch had been at risk of non-compliance due to an inconsistent application of its own admissions practices, which resulted in the admission of some international students (in 2018) who were ill-equipped to progress through their course of study.

However, the regulator accepted the university’s responses (CMM October 12 2020).

The last university to be renewed for four years was Charles Sturt U (CMM May 6 2019).

Murdoch U responds: Last night Vice Chancellor Eeva Leinonen said re-registration was, “an important decision confirming Murdoch University’s status as a Higher Education Provider.”

“Our voluntary undertakings set out the actions we will be taking to address the identified risks and allow us to demonstrate on-going improvements to our corporate and academic governance arrangements and external benchmarking of student performance across courses.”