Education Minister Christopher Pyne has announced the new Higher Education Standards Panel to replace the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency’s (TEQSA) advisory council.
University of Western Sydney Chancellor Professor Peter Shergold will chair the new body. He will be supported by Professor Alan Robson, Fisher Jeffries managing partner Karen Thomas, former Victorian Liberal MP Phil Honeywood, and myself.
The panel will continue to consult with universities and other higher education institutions, and provide policy advice to uphold quality and standards while reducing red tape and deregulating the higher education environment.
I have never wavered in my belief that we need a national regulator like TEQSA, for three unassailable reasons. One is the size, complexity and range of the higher education sector – it does need regulatory assurance. Second is the very significant number of students that have come into the system as a result of demand-driven Bradley. And thirdly is our overseas market reputation.
We want quality, which requires regulation to ensure minimum standards. But we also need a structure to drive diversity and innovation, with regulation as the means, not the end. We need to enshrine the basic governance value that universities are indispensable, independent, intellectual components of civic society.
Above all however, universities must be able to spend more time on teaching students, conducting research and engaging with communities and less time on compliance and reporting.
That's where we come in – to cut red tape in TEQSA and minimise the regulatory burden on higher education.
A deregulatory environment will allow individual institutions to capitalise on their strengths, reduce the need for excessive compliance activities, and promote opportunities for education leaders to engage with risk more strategically.
I am very much looking forward to continuing this work with my colleagues.