Avondale will fast track its application for registration as an “Australian University” after federal parliament approved new standards now being implemented by the national regulator.
The standards will enable higher education providers to transition into the categories of “Australian University,” “Overseas University in Australia,” “University College” or “Institute of Higher Education.” But providers have only five weeks to provide evidence they qualify.
For the majority, the transition will be “straightforward,” writes Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency (TEQSA) Chief Commissioner Professor Peter Coaldrake in a letter to all 184 providers. “There are, however, a dozen or so providers for whom the situation requires very careful consideration.” This group includes Avondale, the only provider in the existing “Australian University College” category. The new “University College” category, though, exists in its own right rather than as a “staging post” on the way to becoming a university.
“We’ve been waiting for word from TEQSA about what the new legislation will mean for our journey to university status,” says Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Kevin Petrie. “Now we know: while we have a lot of work to do in just a short time, we have an opportunity to provide the evidence that we meet the new standards for becoming a university.”
Kevin describes the continued investment in research, the commitment to a quality management system, and the strong results from student experience and graduate outcome surveys as being “helpful” for Avondale’s application. “It’s hard to know how it may go. We’re the only provider in the ‘Australian University College’ category but the standards have changed since we applied. We’ll see what the new standards require of us.”
The passing on February 18 of the Higher Education Legislation Amendment (Provider Category Standards and Other Measures) Bill 2020 replaces the current six categories as recommended by Coldrake in his review of the standards. This will “simplify and enhance the categorisation of higher education providers, ensuring [the standards] remain fit for purpose in Australia’s evolving higher education landscape,” writes Coldrake.
TEQSA expects to make decisions about the status of any change of category applications by July 1.