December 17, 2014

‘Landmark’ Decision Inches Avondale Toward University Status

, Avondale College of Higher Education, with additional reporting by Adventist Review staff

Avondale College of Higher Education has become the first non-university in Australia to gain the right to approve its own higher education courses, bringing it a step closer toward reaching its goal of becoming a university.

Avondale president Ray Roennfeldt describes the development as a “new era.” Photo: ANN

The new classification from the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency, or TEQSA, means Avondale can self-accredit all of its higher education courses, including higher degrees by coursework and by research.

“Self-accrediting authority is not granted lightly,” TEQSA acting chief Nick Saunders said in announcing what he called a “milestone” decision late Monday.

Avondale submitted its application in July—the initial documentation exceeded 2,000 pages—and a rigorous assessment process followed. Saunders said, however, that process benefitted from the fact that his agency has accredited multiple Avondale courses in recent years, giving regulators a better understanding of Avondale’s academic governance and of its quality assurance processes.

“TEQSA looked for evidence of proven experience, a history of low risk and, most importantly, strong academic governance and the ability to self-assure critical higher education processes,” he said.

Self-accrediting status is a hallmark of university autonomy in Australia, and it gives the institutions a competitive edge because they can more quickly respond to demand by providing new courses, according to The Australian newspaper, which published a report about Avondale on Tuesday.

Avondale president Ray Roennfeldt described the development as a “new era” for the school and a significant step toward the fulfillment of its vision to be a university.

“While self-accrediting authority does not provide university status, it does require that the institution’s internal processes are at least as robust and rigorous as that of a university,” he said.

Established by the Seventh-day Adventist Church in 1897, Avondale has been a registered institute of higher education since 1974. It has offered postgraduate master’s degrees since the early 1990s and doctoral degrees since 2006.

It has 1,538 undergraduate students and 304 graduate students, according to the 2014 Annual Statistical Report released this fall by the General Conference’s Office of Archives, Statistics, and Research.