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Early audits of higher education providers : a thematic analysis
conference contributionposted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 by Hilary Winchester
The Australian Universities Quality Agency (AUQA) has been auditing Higher Education Providers (HEPs) since 2006. The early audit reports reveal some key themes, both areas of good practice and areas for improvement. The HEPs are commended overall for their studentcentredapproaches to teaching and learning, their interest in identifying particular student needs and providing appropriate student support, and in some cases for their underlying support structures. They provided a satisfying overall student experience including effective engagement with their communities. The most significant areas of improvement for the HEPs were institutional or corporate governance with a range of recommendations made about the role, independence and expertise of the Board of Trustees. Similarly, academic governance was a major theme including the fundamental role of the Academic Board or the equivalent peak academic body in academic standards and policy. Human resource management practices and procedures require further attention and formalisation. While most aspects of teaching and learning and student support are areas of strength, assessment processes are identified for further work with a number ofrecommendations about external moderation. In more general terms, the HEPs are encouraged to obtain external validation of performance through appropriate benchmarking. A number of sector-wide implications arise from these results of the early HEP audits. Firstly, the audits reveal some gaps in the Quality Audit Factors against which HEPs are assessed, including consideration of support processes for international students. Sector-wide training andguidelines in aspects such as academic governance have already been put in train by AUQA. The need for effective benchmarking necessitates sector-wide consistent data which will requireconcerted attention by the Federal Government and by the various organisations representing private providers.