The Australian Commonwealth government’s Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency, TEQSA, has made a public announcement regarding an easing of enforcement of the laws surrounding how international students can be taught. This comes in response to the difficulty education providers are navigating due to the Coronavirus.
“All AQF training and assessment must meet high quality standards regardless of the location of the student and the mode of delivery. As long as the student remains enrolled with their provider, and the assessment requirements of the course allow it, the location of the student and the mode of delivery should not form an impediment to attainment of an Australian qualification.
National regulators, including ASQA and TEQSA, will be flexible in order to support students to study online either in Australia or offshore.
Providers should assure themselves that such arrangements maintain assessment and quality standards, and are appropriately documented. Not all qualifications are suited to online learning, this may include those with mandatory work placements. “
TEQSA is the body responsible for compliance of education providers and has acknowledged that due to COVID-19 providers may not be in a position to fully comply with the requirements of Standards 8.19 and 8.20 of the National Code 2018.
The National Code requires;
- 8.19: A registered provider must not deliver more than one-third of the units (or equivalent) of a higher education or VET course by online or distance learning to an overseas student.
- 8.20: A registered provider must ensure that in each compulsory study period for a course, the overseas student is studying at least one unit that is not by distance or online learning, unless the student is completing the last unit of their course.
Under normal circumstances, too much online study would in fact breach the regulatory requirements as the National Code clearly outlines. However, given the current circumstances, TEQSA has decided to take a sensible flexible approach;
“Where providers determine that enrolment in a wholly online or distance learning mode of study is in the student’s best interest for semester 1 or trimester 1 2020, TEQSA will not pursue regulatory action. This includes where a student’s enrolment in online or distance unit will exceed one-third of the student’s higher education course. Accurate and comprehensive documentation must be maintained in the student’s file.”
This adaptable approach regarding online learning will not mean that education providers will be given a free pass to breach other areas of the National Code such as Standard 6 which governs how international students are supported in this country and Standard 8 which governs student enrollments.
Standard 6.3 and 6.4 and 8.22 states;
- 6.3: The registered provider must offer reasonable support to overseas students to enable them to achieve expected learning outcomes regardless of the overseas student’s place of study or the mode of study of the course, at no additional cost to the overseas student
- 6.4: The registered provider must facilitate access to learning support services consistent with the requirements of the course, mode of study and the learning needs of overseas student cohorts, including having and implementing documented processes for supporting and maintaining contact with overseas students undertaking online or distance units of study.
- 8.22 The registered provider must take all reasonable steps to support overseas students who may be disadvantaged by:
- 8.22.1 additional costs or other requirements, including for overseas students with special needs, from undertaking online or distance learning
- 8.22.2 inability to access the resources and community offered by the education institution, or opportunities for engaging with other overseas students while undertaking online or distance learning.
TEQSA reminds education providers;
“In considering alternative delivery modes to support affected students, providers are reminded of their obligation to provide access and support to students undertaking online or distance learning as required by Standards 6.3, 6.4 and 8.22 of the National Code 2018.”
Considering the current circumstances TEQSA should be commended for demonstrating flexibility and ensuring support for the International students who themselves are supporting this country by maintaining their enrolments. You can read more about the TEQSA advice released.
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