What TEQSA will act on

The peak agency specifies four big issues – including international students’ English standards and course progression

TEQSA chief Anthony McClaran set the tone for the agency’s annual conference yesterday, detailing achievements – some more, some less. But observers say it was his focus on what it is come that engaged the above 800 audience

Mr McClaran pointed to four key issues the agency is addressing.

* academic integrity and contact cheating: TEQSA “has consistently supported” the government’s proposed legislation making contract cheating illegal. And he rejected claims that it could capture “‘moms and dads’ innocently helping out with an assignment.”

“TEQSA has neither the resources nor intention to approach the problem in this way.”

“Our focus is on support, intelligence and the spreading of good practice – not in seeking to apply punitive regulatory sanctions to providers who are doing their best to tackle an insidious – and often technologically sophisticated-problem,” Mr McClaran said.

* sexual assault and harassment: “We have continued to investigate individual cases that have been brought to us by students or their advocates, where they believe that provider policies or procedures have failed in some way. It’s important to stress that we don’t seek to second guess or re-run providers’ own procedures – but we do look to see if the alleged shortcomings constitute a failure of the duty to maintain the well-being and safety of students that are called for in the Higher Education Standards.” Mr McClaran added the agency is working on a Good Practice Note, which, “will be consistent with previous guidance on wellbeing and safety, and grievance and complaints handling, on the importance of distinguishing those serious matters that need to be referred to the police and the criminal justice system.”

* English language competency in international student admission:  Mr McClaran said TEQSA saw no evidence of a widespread failure of standards. “But we do have some concerns”.

One is the difficulty in ascertaining the basis of admissions of anything up to 60 per cent of international students at institutions.

The other, and it is one which will be carefully considered by institutions across the country, is; “are providers sure that waivers of the English language requirement have been justified by subsequent student performance?”

Mr McClaran spelt out what TEQSA would do to address this; “we are looking to see some analysis of student entry and subsequent progression for different types of conditions.”

* admissions transparency: Mr McClaran acknowledged improvements but warned some institutions have a little, or a lot, of work to do


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