Quality Assurance in Higher Education in Australia

By | June 18, 2021

Australian universities enjoy an excellent international reputation and are known for providing high quality teaching and research. The reason for this is not least the quality assurance in higher education, which plays an important role in Australia. How is it organized?

Between autonomy and state control

Quality assurance in higher education is under intense government control in Australia. In principle, the Australian universities are autonomous. Her duties include to accredit degree programs internally and their quality through codes of conduct ( codes of practice ) to ensure. At the same time, universities are subject to a large number of laws and regulations. You are obliged to adhere to certain minimum standards. In addition, there are external quality tests carried out by the quality assurance agency TEQSA.

TEQSA: registration and accreditation

The Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency ( TEQSA ) is an important part of quality assurance in higher education in Australia. TEQSA is an independent, nationwide quality assurance agency. It has two main tasks:

  • the registration of universities
  • the accreditation and reaccreditation of universities

TEQSA’s approach

The TEQSA compares the performance of the universities with the legal standards and evaluates them. The standards are legally anchored in the Higher Education Standards Framework and cover five areas:

  • Provider-related standards ( provider standards )
  • Statements related standards ( Qualification Standards )
  • Standards in teaching and learning ( Teaching and Learning Standards )
  • Information Standards ( Information Standards )
  • Research standards ( Research standards )

In order to be accepted into or remain in the Australian higher education system, a university must at least meet the Provider and Qualification Standards.

The Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF)

The Australian Qualifications Framework ( AQF ) was introduced by the Australian government with the aim of

  • Standardize school, apprenticeship and university degrees across the country
  • to make the level of quality standards uniform.

The AQF is also a means of quality assurance in higher education in Australia.

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It assigns one of ten different educational levels ( AQF levels ) to all Australian educational qualifications. In this way, it combines school, professional and academic qualifications in a national system. So it is always clear

  • what level a degree is at
  • which competencies graduates bring with them
  • what further education can look like and which steps are necessary for this.

In addition, the AQF makes it easier to switch between educational institutions inside and outside the higher education sector and simplifies the recognition of academic achievements.

Quality assurance for international students in Australia

ESOS

In Australia there is a special form of quality assurance for international students. The so-called ESOS Act ( Education Service for Overseas Students Act ) ensures that the interests of students from other countries are also protected. He ensures that

  • international students in Australia enjoy the same quality of study as their local fellow students
  • Students receive the advice and information they need to study abroad in Australia
  • a written contract is concluded between the university and the student. This means that students are financially secure if they do not receive a visa or the university cannot offer the desired course of study.

CRICOS and National Code

Australian colleges cannot accept international students just like that. Instead, they must register with the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students ( CRICOS ). Registration is tracked via the TEQSA.

With the CRICOS registration, universities guarantee that they adhere to certain quality standards for international students. These are stipulated by law in the National Code of Practice for Registration Authorities and Providers of Education and Training to Overseas Students, or National Code for short.

If a university or a degree program does not meet these standards, which denied TEQSA the CRICOS -Registration or withdraws them. As a result, international students will no longer be allowed to study at the relevant university in the future.

In 2011 there was a change in the law of the ESOS Act. Since then, the CRICOS registration has been limited in time and has to be renewed regularly. In addition, the educational institutions have been examined in more detail since then.

Grading System in Australia

The grading system in Australia is not structured uniformly. Most Australian universities award the grades

  • High distinction
  • Distinction
  • Credit
  • passport
  • Fail.

High Distinction is the best grade. Some universities also have other assessment systems, such as grades from 7-1 or from the grades A, B, C etc. It also differs from university to university how many percentage points students have to achieve for a grade. At some universities, for example, students have to achieve at least 85 percent for a high distinction, at others 80 percent is enough.

Overview of the two most common grading systems used in universities in Australia

Percent Grade Importance
100-85 or 100-80 High distinction Very good
84-75 and 79-70, respectively Distinction Well
74-65 or 69-60 Credit Satisfying
64-50 or 59-50 Pass Sufficient
less than 49 Fail Failed

Quality Assurance in Higher Education in Australia