Avondale University College will fast-track its application for registration as a full-fledged Australian university after the federal Parliament in Australia approved new standards now being implemented by the national regulator, school leaders recently reported.
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 that they qualify.
For the majority, the transition will be “straightforward,” writes Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency (TEQSA) Chief Commissioner 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,” vice-chancellor and president Kevin Petrie said. “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.”
Petrie describes the continued investment in research, the commitment to a high-quality management system, and the strong results from the student experience and the graduates’ outcomes 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, 2021, of the Higher Education Legislation Amendment (Provider Category Standards and Other Measures) Bill 2020 replaces the current six categories, as recommended by Coaldrake in his review of the standards. This will “simplify and enhance the categorization of higher education providers, ensuring [the standards] remain fit for purpose in Australia’s evolving higher education landscape,” Coaldrake wrote.
TEQSA expects to make decisions about the status of any change of category applications by July 1.