Quality and Standards

Higher Education Context

Commonwealth legislation governs how UOW operates within the higher education sector. This section contains information on:

Regulatory Acts

Higher Education Support Act (HESA) 2003

The Higher Education Support Act 2003 (HESA) is the main piece of legislation governing higher education in Australia. This Act primarily provides for the Commonwealth to provide financial aid to higher education providers and to students. It regulates:

  • Grants for higher education assistance
  • Assistance to students
  • Repayment of loans
  • Administration
  • The VET FEE-HELP Assistance Scheme


This Act aims to support a higher education system that is characterised by quality, diversity and equity of access. This is intended to strengthen Australia’s knowledge base 
and enhance the contribution of Australia’s research capabilities to national economic development and international competitiveness and the attainment of social goals.

In short, this Act is associated with the provision of grants for operational, research and teaching projects.

Legislative Guidelines

Higher Education Support Act Guidelines

The Commonwealth has prepared and issued for providers a number of operational guidelines to assist providers in the interpretation and application of higher education legislation:

Higher Education Provider Guidelines

The guidelines set out:

  • tuition assurance requirements
  • particular obligations on certain providers
  • grievance and review procedures
  • the name of the quality auditing body which will undertake quality auditing of higher education providers
  • publication and other requirements for student contribution amounts and transition fees
  • fees in respect of overseas students, and
  • fees for goods and services incidental to studies.
Quality Regulation in Higher Education

Tertiary Education Quality AND Standards Agency (TEQSA) Act 2011

The TEQSA Act is the main piece of legislation regulating and assuring the quality of higher education in Australia. This is achieved through the regulation of a
standards-based framework designed to meet Australian economic and social needs.

  • Registration of providers
  • Accreditation of courses of study for non-self accrediting providers
  • The Higher Education Standards Panel
  • The establishment of a Higher Education Standards Framework

Higher Education STANDARDS FRAMEWORK - THE Threshold Standards

The Higher Education Standards Framework comprises a revised set of standards that has recently been approved by the Commonwealth Parliament. It becomes operational on 1 January 2017 and will be the basis on which the University will be assessed when seeking re-registration as a Higher Education Provider from TEQSA in 2018. 

National Policy

Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF)

The AQF is a national policy designed to regulate qualifications in the higher education sector. It incorporates the qualifications from each education and training sector into a single comprehensive national qualifications framework.

The AQF places an emphasis on student learning outcomes that are designed to ensure courses are standardised nationwide. It prescribes 

  • Qualification level criteria & type descriptors across all qualification types from the Senior Secondary Certificate of Education to the Doctoral Degree
  • Qualification level summaries & learning outcomes criteria for each qualification level
  • Qualification type learning outcomes descriptors

 Also included in the AQF are policies on related aspects qualifications:

  • AQF Qualifications Issuance Policy - regulating the formal documentation issued by providers
  • AQF Qualifications Pathways Policy - regulating recognition of prior learning
  • AQF Qualifications Register Policy - establishing a process for providers to list all qualifications they issue. 
International Education Legislation

Education Services for Overseas Students Act 2000 (ESOS)

The ESOS Act sets out the legal framework governing delivery of education to overseas students studying in Australia on a student visa. The Australian Government, through the Department of Education, administers the ESOS Act and its associated instruments. The critical elements of ESOS are:

Australian Education International (AEI)

The AEI Supports the international education industry through policy development and advice; quality assurance and consumer protection; and qualifications recognition. The Units or their equivalents have been established in most Australian states and territories to assist obtain recognition of their overseas-gained skills.  The education institution, such as a university, higher education provider or registered training organisation, assesses overseas qualifications for admission to study.


Last reviewed: 5 January, 2016