Explanations of terms in Part A of the HES Framework 2015
This list elaborates particular terms and concepts in Part A of the Higher Education Standards Framework (Threshold Standards) 2015 (HES Framework), including those that have a specialised meaning in this particular context.
Accreditation of a Course of Study
A formal process through which a course of study is authorised to be offered by a higher education provider. For providers that are authorised to self-accredit the course of study, the accreditation is granted through a formal internal governance process; otherwise the accreditation must be obtained from TEQSA. A course of study that is self-accredited or accredited by TEQSA may also be ‘accredited’ by a professional body for different and separate purposes. Accreditation of a course of study by a professional body does not of itself entitle a provider to offer the course of study.
Approval of a Course of Study
A formal internal governance process that determines that a course of study is suitable to be offered by the higher education provider. Unless a provider has authority to self-accredit the course of study, course approval must be followed by accreditation of the course of study by TEQSA.
Changes to a (the) Higher Education Provider’s Operations
Changes to a higher education provider’s operations include changes to the delivery of a course of study that may affect the participation of students in their chosen course of study, such as significant changes to the content of the course, deletion of opportunities for expected specialisations or majors, changes to the locations of delivery that have a significant impact on access, altered modes of participation or delivery, limitations or withdrawal of learning support, additional requirements for completion and unheralded increases in fees or associated costs, such as requirements for new technology.
A complaint is an expression of a grievance about a higher education provider or its operations. Lodging of complaints is expected to initiate a process, whether formal or informal, to address the grievance.
Course of Study
Courses of study are a coherent sequence of units of study leading to the award of a qualification(s). The use of ‘course of study’ in the Standards includes both coursework and higher degree by research programs unless otherwise specified. Courses of study are sometimes known as ‘programs’.
Credit for Prior Learning
‘Credit’ is interpreted broadly to include specified and unspecified credit, exemptions, advanced standing, credit transfers and other similar outcomes, in which exemptions are granted for components of a course on the basis of having achieved equivalent learning outcomes in a course previously .
A traumatic event, or the threat of such (within or outside Australia), which causes extreme stress, fear or injury.
See Guidance Note on Financial Standing.
‘Formal complaint’ is the term used to distinguish those complaints that use a formal complaints-resolution process from complaints about matters that are resolved readily without entering into a formal process.
A grievance means any issue or concern that is raised for resolution through a complaint. ‘Grievance’ is used generically, whether the grievance is considered minor or more serious in nature.
A higher degree means a Higher Doctoral Degree, a Doctoral Degree, a Masters Degree, a Graduate Diploma or a Graduate Certificate. A Bachelor Honours Degree is not classified as a higher degree. A higher degree is sometimes known as a ‘postgraduate degree/qualification’.
Higher Degree by Research
A higher degree by research means a Higher Doctoral Degree, a Doctoral Degree or a Masters Degree in which research constitutes at least two thirds of the course of study and the course of study leads to an original contribution to the field of research and/or practice. A Bachelor Honours Degree is not classified as a higher degree by research. A higher degree by research is sometimes known as a ‘research degree/qualification’ or a ‘postgraduate research degree/qualification’.
Higher Education Provider
A Higher Education Provider is a provider that is registered under the TEQSA Act.
An independent member of a governing body is a person who is independent from management and who does not have (or intend to have) any material or significant dealings with the provider (or an associated entity) that could interfere with the exercise of independent judgement as a director. Where members of governing bodies are paid fees for undertaking their responsibilities, TEQSA does not consider this to compromise their independence. However, payment for other roles, e.g. transactions with related parties, may compromise independence.
The following points encompass a selection of characteristics that are seen to be indicative of the ‘independence’ of a director. TEQSA will have regard to any constraints where there is an Act of Parliament that determines the composition of the governing body.
- has not had an employment relationship with the provider within the last three years
- has not had a business relationship or other material contractual relationship with the provider within the last three years
- does not have a direct or indirect material financial interest with the provider
- is not involved in the day-to-day management functions of the provider and not allied with the interests of management
- is sufficiently impartial and disconnected from provider’s operations, such that they are in position to hold management to account and act in the organisation’s best interests
- does not have a material personal interest (i.e. doesn’t stand to gain, benefit or suffer a loss) in the outcome of a Board meeting
- is free of any interest, position, association or relationship that might influence, or reasonably be perceived to influence, their capacity to exercise independent judgement
- has not been a director with the provider for such a period (e.g. ten years) that their independence may have been compromised.
Elected staff or executive directors can be members of governing boards, but would not be classed as ‘independent’ members as they are employed by the provider. Students would not normally be considered independent either.
Institutional benchmarks might include minimum acceptable entry criteria, progression and completion rates, grade distributions, criteria for academic appointments and many others, several of which may be embedded in academic policy frameworks.
The Standards are generally designed to apply to all students. An ‘international student’ is a student who is studying in Australia for an Australian higher education qualification at a registered higher education provider and is not an Australian citizen, Australian permanent resident or New Zealand citizen. An international student is the holder of an Australian student visa, sometimes known as an ‘overseas student’.
Recording of Research Outputs
The ‘system for… recording of the research outputs of staff and research students’ may be maintained by the higher education provider or maintained elsewhere (e.g. through electronic links to a remote database) and may include references to locations of physical outputs (e.g. a work of art).
Research is defined as the creation of new knowledge and/or the use of existing knowledge in a new and creative way so as to generate new concepts, methodologies, inventions and understandings. This could include synthesis and analysis of previous research to the extent that it is new and creative. This definition of research is consistent with a broad notion of research and experimental development (R&D) as comprising ‘creative work undertaken on a systematic basis in order to increase the stock of knowledge, including knowledge of man [human-kind], culture and society, and the use of this stock of knowledge to devise new applications’.
Research related study means study about research rather than the conduct of research itself, such as a study of analytical techniques or experimental methods.
Research training means a course(s) of study leading to a higher degree by research.
Safeguards to Mitigate Disadvantage to Students
Safeguards to mitigate disadvantage to students encompass financial and tuition safeguards including sufficiently resourced contingency plans for teaching out the course of study or transition of affected students to an equivalent course of study and/or refund of tuition fees and other charges paid in advance for services not delivered, whether resourced directly by the higher education provider or through a tuition protection scheme.
See Guidance Note on Scholarship.
Unit of Study
Units of study are the components of study that collectively constitute a course of study. Units are sometimes known as ‘subjects’ or ‘modules’. In some cases units of study may be offered for stand-alone study rather than as part of a course of study.
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