Setting a new higher education course up for success.

Posted: 28/01/2022

Unlike universities, which can accredit their own higher education courses, private providers are required to submit proposed courses to the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) for accreditation. Most private providers are passionate about their proposed courses; however, not all gain successful accreditation.

There are common pitfalls. However, most of these can be avoided by starting on the right foot, being having a comprehensive Course Business Case Proposal.

What is a Course Business Case Proposal?

A Course Business Case Proposal is a crucial piece of documentation that should provide the rationale and benefits for introducing a new course in a compelling and considered way to gain the support of decision-makers.

The Course Business Case Proposal should contain (at a minimum):

  • Strategic considerations for why the course should be introduced
  • A current market analysis
  • Internal business considerations including resourcing and financial sustainability, including forecast student demand, and
  • Recruitment strategies

Why have a Course Business Case Proposal?

As with any business, introducing a new product (a course in this instance) comes at a cost. A Course Business Case Proposal has two important purposes:

  1. To help decision-makers understand the costs associated with introducing a new course, the resources and time required, and the potential opportunities and risks.
  2. To demonstrate that proper due diligence has been carried out for the proposed course to support its introduction and that there is sufficient market demand to justify any associated costs.

The Corporate Board’s role in reviewing the Course Business Case Proposal

The number one reason a provider receives an adverse decision (85% of submissions that receive conditions) from TEQSA is due to insufficient Corporate or Academic Governance. Both the Corporate governing body and the Academic Board play a vital role in introducing a new course and it is crucial that good governance processes are followed1.

While the Academic Board ensures that the decision to accredit a course of study is informed by overarching academic scrutiny (requirement of Standard 5.1.3b of the Higher Education Standards (Threshold) Framework 2021 (HESF)) and approves the Course Proposal, the Corporate governing body needs to ensure that:

  • The provider’s future directions in higher education have been determined (Standard 6.2.1b of the HESF)
  • The provider is financially viable and has the capacity to continue to apply sufficient financial and other resources to maintain the viability of the entity and its business model (Standard 6.2.1c); and
  • Risks to the provider’s operations have been identified, and material risks are being managed and mitigated effectively (Standard 6.2.1e)

This is where the Course Business Case Proposal comes in. It provides the Corporate governing body with the information required for it to make an informed and evidence-based decision and demonstrate it has discharged its duties as required by TEQSA.

How is the Course Business Case Proposal different to the Course Proposal?

When accrediting a new course, there must be both a Course Business Case Proposal and a Course Proposal. The Course Business Case Proposal is the first document that should be created to demonstrate the business need for the course. This is approved by the Corporate governing body and will later inform the Course Proposal, which is approved by the Academic Board.

While the Course Business Case Proposal outlines the strategic reasons for the course, the operational considerations and provides a market analysis, the Course Proposal demonstrates how the course engages with advanced knowledge and inquiry consistent with the level of study and outlines the specifics of the course, including2:

  • The course rationale (including expected graduate employment opportunities)
  • The qualifications to be awarded on completion
  • The admissions criteria
  • The course learning outcomes, methods of assessment and indicative student workload, and national/international comparators (consistent with Standards 1.4.1-3 and 1.4.5-7 of the HESF (if applicable), including:
    • The rationale for the relationship between learning outcomes, AQF level specifications, unit learning outcomes and unit assessment and summary table mapping this alignment
    • The learning outcomes should include both discipline-related and generic outcomes
  • The structure, duration, and modes of delivery
  • A list of units of study (indicating whether compulsory or elective)
  • Any compulsory requirements for completion
  • Any exit pathways, articulation arrangements, pathways to further learning
  • Any research content (for Bachelor Honours, Masters or Doctoral qualifications)
  • The planned staffing complement, showing qualifications and experience of the course coordinator and for all teaching positions as required by Standard 3.2.3 of the HESF, and:
    • resumes for any staff already engaged
    • positions descriptions for positions not yet filled
    • evidence of equivalent academic or professional experience relevant to policy criteria
    • arrangements for oversight of staff who do not fully meet Standard 3.2.3 of the HESF.

4 Tips for writing a standout Course Business Case Proposal

To write a standout Course Business Case Proposal that presents a compelling case to decision markers for introducing the new course, the following is crucial:

  1. The Course Business Case Proposal must be written in a structured and professional manner.
  2. Consideration must be given to the Strategic Plan, and it must demonstrate how the proposed course supports and aligns with the institutional strategy.
  3. Thorough market research must be conducted using data from credible sources with input from external sources.
  4. It must contain considered and realistic financial modelling

Are you looking for inspiration for your Course Business Case Proposal? DVE Business Solutions has provided a template to get you started on your journey to accrediting a new course.

Next Steps

After you have a Course Business Case Proposal and your Corporate governing body has approved it, work can commence on your Course Proposal and required evidence to accredit the course in accordance with your institution’s course accreditation policy and procedure.

Need help with developing a new course for accreditation?

Our team is always happy to chat about ways in which we can help your institution. Our team of experts are highly experienced in undertaking market research to inform your Course Business Case Proposal, managing course accreditations, and conducting external independent course reviews. Contact Danielle Baird, Senior Consultant, Governance and Compliance, on 1800 870 677 or email to find out more.