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5 Things to Consider Before TEQSA Registration as a Higher Education Provider

TEQSA Higher Education Application with Darlo

Higher education registration is a challenging process for even experienced administrations. For most higher education providers, however, registration is a basic necessity. Colleges and universities not on the Register lack the same credibility and legitimacy as those that comply with the standards of the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency. Registry and TEQSA compliance confers a stamp of approval by the federal government ensuring that curriculum and courses meet national standards. It serves the same purpose as non-profit accreditation agencies in countries like the United States. 

Eveninternational colleges and universities accredited in their home countries would benefit from registering under TEQSA guidelines.

When considering whether or not to apply for higher education registration, it is important to consider a range of questions and issues. TEQSA and the National Register process may leave a lot to be desired, particularly in terms of private university education, but administrators should ignore the fear mongers. Registration confers benefits. Also, failing to register will mean that the school will lack a perception of legitimacy in many eyes while seeing the doors to many beneficial programmes remain shut.

Even though there are many ‘advisors’ or academics offering support services, you really need to think carefully about who you choose to have on the team. The path to registration presents a higher education provider with many challenges. No school, large or small, domestic or foreign, public or private, should enter the process without a plan and people able to implement it.

Private universities, who often find themselves at the mercy of biased tertiary education gatekeepers, face even more challenges. All schools, however, should plan ahead for the higher education registration process. That includes consideration of what needs to be done and where the institution can find assistance.

Registration Can Confer Benefits

The main goal of TEQSA lies in ensuring that every higher education provider operating in Australia provides students a quality education. Provider performance gets evaluated against standards set by the Higher Education Standards Framework (Threshold Standards) 2015.

Registry confirms to the general public and higher education market that a school has met federal standards. These include standards for course accreditation, teaching and learning, research, and other fields. What the government calls “threshold standards” set a high bar for entry, but also guarantee to the market that the higher education provider has credibility and quality.

Another benefit of registry lies in a higher education provider gaining access to federal funds and programmes, especially student aid. Despite recent deep cuts to the higher education budget, Australian universities can apply to receive millions in aid from programmes such as the Sustainable Research Excellence scheme, Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Plan, and many other sources.

Higher education registration also gets important information about the provider onto a searchable database of institutions. The information shown includes

  • Legal entity name
  • Australian Business Number used for higher education operations
  • Provider category
  • Website of the higher education provider
  • If the higher education services provider can serve overseas students or students studying in vocational education
  • Other pertinent links, important addresses, and dates of renewal

This information helps both domestic and international students get better educated on their possible schools of choice, including both HEPs and VETs.

Meeting TEQSA standards and appearing on the National Registry serves as the first step toward obtaining helpful and sometimes necessary aid. While colleges and universities should always seek new funding streams from nongovernment sources, federal aid of any sort can help to improve higher education provider programmes. 

Meeting TEQSA Qualifications

Be prepared to meet a long list of stringent standards to get approved for registration. The government in recent years has worked to standardise expectations of national colleges and universities to ensure consistent quality in education. Each one of these requirements comes from a different section of either the TEQSA Act of 2011 or the Higher Education Standards Act of 2015. They include:

  • The higher education provider appears as an entity under the legal definition of a regulated entity
  • The HEP has a clearly stated higher education purpose that includes a commitment to free intellectual inquiry
  • The HEP has in place a formally established governing body inside or outside the country, including independent members, that has accountability and exercises oversight over operations in a consistently competent fashion
  • Members of the governing body meet standards of fitness and competence
  • Members of the governing body meet any Australian residency requirements established by the institution’s charter
  • Staffing for each course is sufficient to cover the educational, academic support, and administrative needs of each course
  • The HEP can operate in an effective and sustainable fashion in accordance with all legislative requirements and the institution’s governing rules
  • Application for registration comes to TEQSA in the approved format along with full payment of the fee

Of course, an institution cannot simply meet TEQSA requirements to appear on the National Register, it must also prove that it meets these requirements. Providing this evidence and information can prove to be almost as challenging, if not more so, than ensuring compliance in the first place.

Wise higher education providers engage experienced consultants to help them successfully navigate the process. A team of experts can help navigate the process more efficiently and prevent costly and time-consuming mistakes.

Avoid One Person Advisors Because Registration Does Require a Team

Hopefully, this basic list of legal requirements for TEQSA approval convinces higher education provider administrators that they cannot rely on a single advisor. They should also avoid keeping their registration project in-house.

Even universities meeting full TEQSA compliance standards must provide evidence that they have met all legal requirements. This means hours of going through the standard paperwork and also showing proof of compliance

Most higher education providers, however, may fall short in some area. This is entirely understandable since the requirements are numerous and also rather specific.

The most frustrating situations involve grey areas and differences of interpretation. One example could fall in the requirement of the governing body having fit and proper members, but according to which definition? An institution may have to, in such a situation, defend the fitness of a governing body member to TEQSA.

An experienced team of TEQSA and National Registry higher education consultants can help make the process more efficient and manageable. Consultants can examine a higher education provider’s administration and academics to determine strengths and weaknesses in relation to TEQSA requirements. The team can then recommend changes or help prepare the HEP to argue its case that it does meet registry mandates.

Unfortunately, experience shows that private universities and other higher education providers experience more difficulties than others. The Australian tertiary education system employs a wide variety of gatekeepers who have biases against private universities guided by a spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship. This makes engaging a team of higher education consultants critical for private higher education providers.

The complexity of both higher education provider administration and TEQSA requirements make preparing for registration more than a one-person job. A team of higher education consultants will make the process as efficient and painless as possible.

Higher education consultants can also fight for course, curriculum, and administrative innovation within TEQSA guidelines. In the big picture, this prevents schools from gravitating toward “cookie cutter” education that serves primarily to satisfy federal regulators. For each school, consultants can help defend the freedom to craft courses that teach effectively, but differently than those established elsewhere.

Eligibility to Participate in HELP Student Aid Program

The government administers four Higher Education Loan Programs, known as HELPs. These programmes include four loan schemes and one student aid package for vocational study in VET schools. Specifically, the FEE HELP loan programme assists students in payment of tuition.

Institutions need TEQSA approval of their status as a Higher Education Provider to participate in offering FEE HELP assistance. To gain TEQSA eligibility, a higher education organisation must first exist as a corporate body with both central management and direction in Australia. The provider must also offer at least one approved course of study and have successfully completed higher education registration.

Higher education providers must go beyond TEQSA standards for higher education registry. They must also meet “legislative requirements in relation to financial viability, tuition assurance, student policies and procedures for fairness and equal opportunity, academic and non-academic grievance, refunds and re-crediting of a FEE-HELP balance.” These organisations must also keep up with changing rules on data collection and other paperwork requirements.

To offer study assist, VET organisations need to meet most of the same requirements as registered HEPs with a few additions. The organisation must have registered as a training organisation listed on the National Register since at least 1 January 2016. Also, they must have been offering at least one qualifying VET course continuously, or one or more series of qualifying VET courses without interruption, since at least 1 January 2016.

Higher education consultants can help a provider prepare its application to participate in FEE HELP. It can also suggest administrative and/or academic adjustments to make sure that an application gets set up for success.

In this day and age, almost all higher education providers rely heavily on students who use study assist to pay part or all of their tuition. Most colleges and universities could not survive without them, making it vital that they employ qualified consultants to both enter the National Registry and then successfully apply to disburse student aid.

If the TEQSA Application Fails

Sometimes the best-laid plans lead to naught. TEQSA, like any other government bureaucracy, can work slowly toward unpredictable results. When going through the higher education registration process, providers should always have a future plan and be prepared to assert their rights.

Rejection of a registration application does not represent the final say in the process. Higher education providers have an avenue of appeal through the Australian Administrative Tribunal (AAT).

The process as established follows a relatively straightforward path with opportunities for resolution at most junctures. Wise administrators, however, should have at least the outline of a plan in place in case of registry rejection. The AAT, depending on circumstances, will offer an appeal window of anywhere from nine to 90 days. Appeal fees can cost as much as $861.

Be aware that when the higher education registration application gets to the appeals process, that the institution now stands in opposition to TEQSA. If a provider has not yet engaged higher education consultants, they should do so at this stage. TEQSA officials have years of experience working on winning appeals for the government. Most higher education providers do not.

Higher education providers prepared for the AAT with a strong team of consultants by their side can appreciate the potential advantages available. The AAT does bring independent officials into the process. It also allows for the examination of evidence with fresh eyes. Even better, the AAT will demand that TEQSA defend their administrative decision to reject the application.

The AAT appeals process gives higher education providers a powerful opportunity to fight registration rejection if they have a strong team of experts to assist. Without a team to help, a higher education provider can truly end up at the mercy of the system.

Before Starting the Process, Engage a Team of Experienced Experts

The final important step in preparing for the higher education registration process lies in choosing the right team of experienced consultants to help steer the process to success. Darlo Higher Education employs a highly qualified team of academics, policy analysts, and commercial managers who know the National Register process from initial steps to completion.

Darlo Higher Education does more than assist in crafting successful National Register applications. It also helps to recruit qualified academic instructors and administrative staff, assemble governing bodies that meet TEQSA guidelines for fitness and competence, and apply for course approvals and accreditation.  Darlo Higher Education also assists in the AAT process.

All of these elements can play key roles in helping a higher education provider meet the requirements to appear on the National Register.

Darlo Higher Education understands that the process can be particularly tough for private education. It fights for educational innovators, entrepreneurs, and the students who benefit from their services.  

Interested in talking to us about how we can assist in the higher education registration process? Why not email us now: info@darlo.com

Introduction

Using Bloom’s Taxonomy to Write University Courses

When employers look at graduates to employ for their organisations, they want to know these alumni have the skills to make their business thrive. In other words, they need graduates to attain a certain level of expertise and competence which allows them to excel in a business environment. When writing a course for students, you need to ensure it meets these high learning outcomes.   

Below, we look at how using Bloom’s Taxonomy allows you to write university courses which exceed these expectations, by considering what Bloom’s Taxonomy is, how university courses are typically written, and how to design the perfect curriculum using this concept. 

How courses are typically designed and what graduates expect 

Graduates have very specific expectations of a course, particularly at university level. They want:

  • A degree which they will enjoy and which stimulates them. 
  • Course content which is easy for them to follow and enables them to produce a logical course map and outline–especially for revision purposes.
  • Educators and course writers who are knowledgeable and whom they can trust to write accredited content.
  • Degrees which not only support their interests but further their career goals and make them attractive to employers upon graduation. 
  • Transferable skills which they can apply to their lives more generally–particularly the ability to form opinions. 

Courses, then, typically try to cater to these needs through a variety of practical and theoretical assessments, presentations, lectures, tutorials and private reading. Ongoing assignments to check progress periodically throughout a university term are also popular, although class weaknesses or course shortcomings cannot always be identified this way. 

Traditional course structure, based on purely deep academic knowledge, is becoming more balanced now institutions understand graduates need more than this to succeed. 

Bloom’s Taxonomy-what it is 

Bloom’s Taxonomy is a fairly straightforward concept. Basically, it is a model which is designed in a uniform way so that it’s understood by academics and other learning providers across the globe. Every university should be familiar with its principles. 

Its aim is to offer a consistent, reliable framework for measuring graduate outcomes and course usefulness. The principle is simple–higher-level, evaluative thinking which builds upon a solid foundation of lower-level knowledge. 

Learning is assessed against specific cognitive levels, which are:

  • Knowledge–factual awareness, recall, and recognition of basic principles and concepts
  • Comprehension–explaining and summarising information, and making some effort to predict outcomes
  • Application–applying this knowledge more broadly and to a wider range of situations, which shows some independent thought
  • Analysis–the student can compare and contrast, and point out strengths and weaknesses of various points of view
  • Synthesis–applying information in a new way and showing creativity
  • Evaluation–the highest level, with value judgments and an ability to transfer higher thought to other areas 

An alternative way, then of looking at the Bloom’s Taxonomy levels are:

  • Remember
  • Understand
  • Apply
  • Analyse
  • Evaluate
  • Create

Either way of describing the categories is correct. The best course writers understand this model and have sufficient vocational training to know how to write a course relevant for today’s market. This is your task if you want to write accredited courses at university level. 

We will look at each of these cognitive levels below in more detail to illustrate how to write a suitable course which covers each of these levels. 

The advantages of designing a course this way 

What are the benefits of building your course curriculum around these principles? Educators now understand there are many

  • It gives educators the chance to see what level the students are at and adapt a course accordingly to address any weakness. 
  • It encourages higher-level thinking from the earliest stages, meaning it becomes second nature to graduates. 
  • Graduates are sufficiently prepared with the right skills they’ll need to thrive in the workplace, build their careers and support their employers. 
  • Teachers can use the same basic course material but alter the outcomes depending on the student body level. 
  • Following the “steps” of Bloom’s Taxonomy ensures curriculum designers don’t leave anything out, because they can check their course content against outcomes promoted by the principle. 

A major benefit of using Bloom’s Taxonomy to write a university course is that you can make changes to the curriculum at any time if it appears there are deficiencies in meeting core competencies. This is an advantage over less regular check-ins, assessments, and purely conceptual knowledge. 

Creating a university course based on this principle 

Designing a course based on these principles requires both a thorough appreciation of the outcomes and of how to assess progress as well as how to meet graduate and market expectations. 

Knowledge (Remember)

Ensuring students can recall and remember the simplest principles of the subject is critical for building a higher level understanding. This should be tested early in the course and adjustments should be made for each individual student if there are problems. That’s the great thing about the Taxonomy–programs are constantly adaptable. 

Course design: Ensure students understand the fundamental principles–early tutorials and lectures should be focused around this. 

Learning tools: PowerPoint, diagrams, handouts, and setting required reading. Lectures and simple podcasts may also help. 

Assessment: Early assessment to check that students can recall basic information, such as biological terms, a mathematical principle or the core of a theory. Lists and labelling as tests are also useful, as is going around a class and asking for “quick” answers. 

Comprehension (Understand)

It’s not enough that students can recall basic terminology–they must be able to show they understand it. This is a critical point in any curriculum design as it’s the first step beyond basic, rote knowledge of a subject. Students should be able to take a few of these basic principles and link them together in a logical manner. 

Course design: Challenge students to show, in early tutorials, that they can make connections between rote ideas or terminology to reinforce this staple knowledge but also develop it. 

Learning tools: Lectures and podcasts building upon each point. Tutorials are also particularly useful for giving students very simple scenarios and having them apply basic recall to form basic ideas. 

Assessment: Completion of more complicated diagrams or linking the principles of a theorem together. Keeping an eye on student participation in groups and tutorials to make sure they’re understanding. Set additional tests at this stage if unsure–question and answer sessions, or quick quizzes can be useful without putting undue early pressure on students. 

Application (Apply)

Once you are confident a student remembers the basic principles and terminology, and that they can make rudimentary links, you need to test their ability to apply this knowledge to a situation or scenario. This can involve applying laws, or a theorem, or a process, to come to a solution. 

Course design: Add in case studies and scenarios which take the student through how to properly apply fundamental ideas. Show this in lectures and podcasts. 

Learning tools: Required reading and homework, worked examples, diagrams, and mapping. Setting out your expectations makes it easier for students to see the level they’re expected to work at.

Assessment: Having students take you through a scenario while showing you their work. Student presentations are particularly helpful–they let educators spot weaknesses and gaps in understanding early enough to support them. 

Analysis

This is the stage when the student’s learning starts to develop into something more high-level. A student will show a basic ability to compare and contrast points and consider on their own what ideas mean. An example is having students compare two legal cases or scientific theories. 

Course design: Make sure students understand the basic format for producing discursive work by encouraging them to engage in analyses and produce sufficiently detailed written work. 

Learning tools: Lectures, reading, tutorials revolving around this skill and essay structure. 

Assessment: Essays or reports, case studies, and comparisons. It’s important at this stage that students can make basic judgments and show some independent thought before they can move on to more detailed thinking. 

Synthesis (Evaluate)

Students need to now start doing their own independent research to support their arguments and show they can properly evaluate the body of knowledge already available. The student is now getting to a place where they can contribute their own ideas to the discussion. It’s important any weaknesses in learning are supported now so students can take that final step to innovative thought. 

Course design: Seeking more student engagement and expecting to see evidence of research. Giving students problems which are more complex to seek solutions with little input from the educator. 

Learning tools: Reading lists, supplementary podcasts, group work.

Assessment: Presentations, detailed essays or projects. 

Evaluation (Create)

This is the highest level of cognitive thinking and what all students are aiming for. This is what employers want to see from university graduates–the ability to innovate and think entirely independently. 

Course design: Case studies, but now less input overall from the teacher.

Learning tools: Debates, worked examples of evaluation and academic-level writing. 

Assessment: Dissertations, group projects, and case studies. 

Whichever degree or qualification the student works toward, designing a university course following Bloom’s Taxonomy is the easiest way to ensure they reach the highest level of learning outcomes, exercise independent thought, and achieve degree satisfaction. 

About Course Writer

The curriculum writers at Course Writer are all highly-trained, experienced and knowledgeable academics who have both practical teaching experience and an understanding of the current market needs. They are fully aware of all developments in educational improvement and can design cost-effective, custom, and fully-accredited university programs to match. 

Story

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