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New COPHE CEO Speaks Out For Students - The Australian

This article is from the February 22 issue of The Australian Digital Edition. To subscribe, visit

Publication of colleges’ negative findings could hurt students 

A regulatory change designed to safeguard students’ interests could have the opposite effect, the peak body for private higher education colleges has warned.

The new boss of the Council of Private Higher Education says a proposal to fast-track publication of decisions against colleges could do students more harm than good.

“A negative finding against an institution relating to their registration or course accreditation can have significant impacts not only for the institution and the business , but also the reputation of the courses,” said COPHE CEO Simon Finn.

“Present and past students are impacted by that finding. It could be significantly damaging to student reputation.”

Last week the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency released a consultation paper outlining plans to publish its decisions soon after they are made, rather than waiting until appeals have been concluded or the right to appeal has expired. The new approach would apply to sanctions against existing colleges or courses, as well as to decisions to reject applications for initial registration of providers or accreditation of degrees.

TEQSA chief executive Anthony McClaran said students were unduly jeopardised by TEQSA’s current approach, because reviews could take more than a year.

This meant students risked enrolling in courses without knowing there were question marks hanging over the programs or their providers.

Mr McClaran said that while the planned approach could impair the reputations of colleges that were ultimately exonerated on appeal, it offered better overall protection on balance.

However Mr Finn, a government services minister and deputy government whip under former Queensland premier Anna Bligh, questioned this.

“There’s an inherent risk (to) procedural fairness if decisions that are reviewable are published prior to the review being exhausted ,” he said.

Mr Finn said COPHE was consulting its members and seeking more information from TEQSA, ahead of lodging a submission on the proposal.

But he said the consultation paper had not made a compelling case that the change would improve the “balance of protection” . “The paper is short on detail about the benefits of early publication,” he said, adding that a better approach would be to speed up appeals . “The primary thing they need to focus on is the time frames involved in decisions being reviewed.”

Universities Australia deputy chief executive Catriona Jackson said her agency would “consult with our membership and take a closer look at the detail of the paper, ahead of making our own submission” .

Copyright © 2017 The Australian



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