Media release

Plan to regulate research quality in universities needs more work

November 2 2020

The Academy of Technology and Engineering (ATSE) has expressed reservations about the Federal Government’s proposed model to regulate the quality of university research in Australia.

ATSE has made a submission to a Senate inquiry into the Higher Education Legislation Amendment (Provider Category Standards and Other Measures) Bill, expressing concerns about the proposal to empower the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) as a regulator.

The proposed new standards increase both the scale and quality of research expected of an Australian university, but will impose new costs, red tape and uncertainty in the sector – already reeling from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

ATSE Chief Executive Kylie Walker said high quality research is an essential part of any university, but this model of regulating it has never been attempted in Australia or in another comparable country.

“TEQSA plays an essential role in Australia’s higher education sector, particularly in its work on academic integrity and contract cheating, but it was not established to regulate the quality of research,” Ms Walker said.

“It has received no new funding or resources to undertake this role and under the new cost recovery initiative higher education providers will be expected to cover the costs.”

ATSE is also concerned that the Bill makes no provision for TEQSA to undertake a transparent or rigorous process when determining matters related to research quality.

“If the changes proceed, ATSE would like determinations to be overseen and reviewed by an independent third party with expertise in research quality,” Ms Walker said

ATSE is also calling for safeguards to ensure higher education institutions are not disadvantaged when transitioning to the new provider categories.

Media: Liz Foschia 0419 976 903 liz.foschia@atse.org.au

Media note:  ATSE’s submission to the Senate inquiry can be read here

The Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering is a Learned Academy of independent experts helping Australians understand and use technology to solve complex problems.