TEQSA spearheads APEC workshop in quality assuring online learning, Bali

October 26, 2016

The Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA), which is Australia’s national quality assurance and regulatory agency for higher education, will share its experience in the quality assurance of online learning in Bali, Indonesia, with fellow Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) economies including Vietnam, China and Mexico.

The workshop, to be held from 1-3 November 2016, will be hosted by TEQSA together with the Australian Government Department of Education and Training. The workshop is being funded through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

TEQSA CEO Anthony McClaran said TEQSA’s experience quality assuring online learning is invaluable and sharing this knowledge builds confidence with Australia’s regional partners.

“Helping economies to get the quality assurance settings right helps build confidence in the regulatory underpinnings of individual in-country quality agencies,” Mr McClaran said.

“TEQSA’s principles and standards approach to quality assurance in Australia’s diverse higher education sector is unique and the TEQSA model for regulation has processes for protecting and assuring quality in online learning."

TEQSA’s approach is underpinned by three principles: regulatory necessity; reflecting risk and proportionate regulation. “Australia’s experience illustrates progress on the continuum of online learning models and methods and how it can be integrated into existing quality assurance frameworks. As economies in APEC, we can all learn from each other’s experience.”

TEQSA has also developed a toolkit as an international guide for regional partners which focuses on practitioner perspective. (Picture below right).

Mr McClaran said new technologies provided diversity and depth to the way today’s higher education students study, with greater choices and access to resources via online.

“From campus based lectures and tutorials to using online resources, videos of lectures, conferencing tools and podcasts. Some students now study ‘online only’ courses. However, worldwide, the most common form of online learning is blended learning (also called hybrid or mixed) where students engage in a mix of face-to-face activities such as lectures and meet other students, yet also access online resources or participate in online testing.”

TEQSA's regulatory approach

In Australia, higher education providers must demonstrate to TEQSA a range of compliance, legal and quality assurance measures in order to operate in Australia’s higher education sector. This includes compliance with the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency Act 2011 (TEQSA Act) and the Higher Education Standards Framework (Threshold Standards) 2011.

“In Australia, we have seen new and dynamic business models evolve as providers respond to changing market dynamics. However, before registering a higher education provider, TEQSA needs to be satisfied that students will be given every opportunity to be successful in their studies, whether this is via online learning or campus based learning. This is in line with the requirements of the TEQSA Act, the Higher Education Standards Framework and (where applicable) the ESOS Act and National Code.”

(APEC is a forum for 21 Pacific Rim member economies that promotes free trade throughout the Asia-Pacific region.)

TEQSA Fast Facts

Australia has 1.5 million higher education students, 171 higher education providers and, is the third most popular destination for international students.

International education services (schools, VET and higher education) contributed $17 billion to the Australian economy in 2014 and represent close to 5% of total Australian exports (source: Productivity Commission).

There is significant unmet demand for higher education around the world. For example:

  • In Indonesia it is estimated that a further 3,000 higher education institutions are required to meet student demand by 2030. In this context online education offers significant potential.
  • The quality assurance of online education has been identified as a challenge to be overcome to enable the potential of online education to be realised.
  • The most effective quality assurance processes consider the ability of an institution to achieve high quality education, regardless of mode.

 Economies to attend APEC workshop:

  • Australia
  • Chile
  • People’s Republic of China
  • Hong Kong, China
  • Indonesia
  • Japan
  • Malaysia
  • Mexico
  • Papua New Guinea
  • The Philippines
  • Thailand
  • The United States
  • Vietnam