IHEA Applauds Provider Category Reforms

Independent Higher Education Australia welcomes today’s announcement of the new Provider Category Standards for Australian higher education by Education Minister Dan Tehan.

Australia has a world-class higher education system that prepares graduates for employment, undertakes globally respected research, and is attractive to international students. The reputation for quality, and the success of Australian higher education is built on a range of providers, not public universities alone.

Independent higher education providers in Australia are registered and accredited under the same national legislation and regulator as Australia’s public universities.  This ensures the quality of Australia’s higher education providers, while enabling a diversity of institutions, courses and experiences for students.

IHEA welcomed the review of the Provider Category Standards undertaken in 2019 to ensure our higher education system continues to rank among the world’s best.

IHEA acknowledges the work of Professor Peter Coaldrake and the thorough and broad consultation process, which IHEA and its members engaged with, that resulted in his recommendations for a category structure that recognises the diversity of Australian higher education providers.

A simplified categories’ structure creates greater transparency about provider types for students considering their academic options. The proposed structure also preserves the status and national recognition of Australian Universities.

IHEA’s submission to the Provider Categories Review advocated the retention of a University College category.  IHEA proposed the criteria of the category be recast to better recognise quality and maintain the desirability of the category for existing aspirational providers, while also attracting high-quality and innovative new entrants to Australia's higher education sector. This category will be ideally placed to meet the growing student demand for an education experience without requiring enrolment in an Australian University.

Today, Minister Tehan announced the retention of the ‘University College’ category within the new structure.  IHEA welcomes this move, as it ensures that the nomenclature of our high-quality non-university provider category will have international recognition, create well-deserved status and will be better utilised by providers. 

In accordance with Professor Coaldrake’s recommendations, the term ‘University College’ will be ‘reserved for the highest performing higher education providers which are not universities’.  University Colleges will be recognised for ‘meeting additional criteria to those required of other higher education providers and will have a significant measure of self-accrediting authority status’.

Demand for Australian higher education is set to grow considerably over the next decade, and IHEA recognises that the national interest requires management of student demand within normal fiscal constraints. This increasing demand will require an expansion of high-quality higher education institutions and courses that are responsive to the demands of students, industry and the community.  

The simplified and coherent category structure adopted by government today will enable higher education in Australia to continue to evolve to meet the challenges of educating students for the jobs of the future, while providing flexibility for future governments to manage the sector and also preserve the status of Australia’s universities.

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