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Insights into Ensuring Ongoing Quality

The 2017 COPHE conference Quality, Compliance and Strategy for Private Higher Education Providers was the first for new CEO, Simon Finn, who presented a program of useful strategic insights from experts in key areas of higher education. These powerpoint presentations are available on request from the COPHE office.

Held at the scenic International College of Management in Manly in May, over 50 COPHE members were presented with helpful insights for ongoing regulatory compliance and improving student completion rates as well as updates on higher education policy reform and ways to improve cyber security.

TEQSA CEO Anthony McClaran and former TEQSA Commissioner Michael Wells, Director Wells Advisory, gave insiders’ views on developments in regulatory priorities and strategies for ensuring ongoing compliance.

Mr Wells said effective strategic planning was particularly essential in the current climate. International and domestic competition is increasing and private providers are facing increasing scrutiny due to recent VET issues. Higher education is also facing the ongoing challenges of technological change and increasing demands from students - and their parents - for employment outcomes. TEQSA processes and approaches are also changing.

During his presentation, Mr McClaran gave an overview of the sector based on the just released  TEQSA  report Statistics Report on TEQSA Registered Higher Education Providers. Available from: as well as some comparisons with COPHE members.

“COPHE members’ performance was generally comparable or better than the sector generally,” he said.

He said that in 2016, management and commerce was the field with the most students overall. Of the total revenue of $35 billion in the sector, 41% was from the Government and 22% was from domestic students including HECs and FEE-HELP. International students in 2015 formed 27% of the student population and generated 17% of the revenue. Almost 25% of academic staff were casual.

He outlined the risk assessment process and said that TEQSA’s primary aim was to reduce regulatory burden on providers through joint and streamlined approaches to assessment.

Mr McClaran said he appreciated the opportunity to present at events such as the COPHE Conference, because it was an opportunity for open and collaborative dialogue between providers and TEQSA. The attendees discussed the Government’s pressure on TEQSA to increase transparency and how TEQSA was involved in the Higher Education reform process.

Cyber security expert David Simpson from CQR reminded COPHE members to be vigilant in the protection of their information and data. There had been several cases of higher education providers being targeted by hackers and viruses recently, including a ransomware attack on COPHE late last year. He stressed that security was a strategic planning not just an IT issue and advised on essential action.

Dr Sara Booth outlined the findings, benefits and future of the COPHE Benchmarking program. Attendees also learned how to improve performance using QILT data from QILT developers Social Research. COPHE International Advisor Paul O’Halloran explained the impacts of the new national code and visa changes on international students.

The new COPHE Board members helped to MC the day and many links were made as attendees enjoyed delicious food on the historic balcony overlooking Manly and Sydney Harbour.

If you have any questions about the Conference or future COPHE events, please contact the COPHE office at

The Council of Private Higher Education Inc. (COPHE) is a peak body established in 2001 to represent Australian private higher education institutions. It promotes good policy in the sector, calling for equity, choice and diversity for all degree-level students. COPHE members operate from more than 70 campuses around Australia and are diverse in size, funding base, organisational links and educational focus.

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