TEQSA lists conditions on Charles Sturt U’s registration

The university regulator requires changes

What’s happened: The Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency has renewed CSU’s registration but for just four years, rather than the regular seven. The ruling dates from early April, but has only just emerged.

The big issue that troubles TEQSA  is the university’s relationship with partner Study Group Australia.

TEQSA now forbids CSU enrolling new students with Study Group Aus and will “maintain this restriction until …TEQSA is satisfied that the university has implemented controls to ensure academic integrity and quality at the CSU study centres operated by SGA.” The regulator also requires CSU to establish controls, “directly overseen by CSU academic staff,” on academic integrity and student performance at  Study Group centres.

And why:  The agency says it has acted to address five issues;

* corporate and academic governance

* “protecting academic integrity through effective prevention, detection and management of academic misconduct”

* “managing and quality assuring course delivery via third party arrangements,” TEQSA cites CSU Study Centres, operated by Study Group Australia

* scholarly activities of teaching staff at Study Group Australia-operated facilities

* monitoring and reporting learning and teaching outcomes

In addition to the Study Group Australia requirements, TEQSA imposes four conditions CSU’s registration.

* providing the agency with written records showing the university’s Council has identified, managed and mitigated academic risks

* annual evidence that Academic Senate receives diagnostic analyses of student performance across eight variables

* evidence of academic governance reform

* annual analysis of cases and causes of academic misconduct

Study Group Australia offers bachelor and graduate programmes for CSU in business and IT in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne.

What CSU says: “After a lengthy three-year process, the university is disappointed to only be granted a four-year conditional renewal. … We have implemented considerable changes during the renewal process and completed a full review of academic governance, with recommendations being implemented through Academic Senate, business-as-usual operations and comprehensive changes to our academic policy suite,” Vice Chancellor Andrew Vann says.

Why CSU:  Observers suggest CSU is a victim of timing, TEQSA’s need to be seen to be acting on system-wide issues and less regulatory failings at the university than its devolved approval process.

The university was up for renewal as the agency responded to increased attention on academic integrity, with Education Minister Dan Tehan proposing legislation to outlaw contract cheating.

TEQSA watchers suggest it is also lifting regulatory requirements for the whole sector, using CSU as a starter. Condition six requires the university to review and report on “the scholarly outputs for all teaching staff and staff with oversight of teaching” at study centres operated by SGA. TEQSA says it must approve the reviewer and their terms of reference.

CSU watchers also suggest CSU needs to make its own regulatory oversight of Study Group A more explicit, for example, moving matters now covered at faculty level to Academic Senate.

What happens next: CSU is scheduled to meet with TEQSA within weeks and word is the university hopes that work in progress will be enough to have conditions on registration lifted.

But if the agency is not amenable the university could take the matter to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. CSU is not talking tactics but university observers do not rule-out it taking TEQSA on.


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