The common mistakes in TEQSA applications–and how to avoid them

Posted: 05/06/2018

There can be much anticipation and a certain element of dread when it comes to filling in a TEQSA application to become a higher education provider.  While there are fundamental requirements that you need to meet even to be considered, when it comes to making a good impression on accreditors and giving your application every chance to be approved, there are other areas that need careful planning and attention.

To help you in the completion of your TEQSA application we asked DVE’s Senior Consultants in Higher Education, Dr Judy Szekeres and Prof Hilary Winchester, who are also accreditation specialists, to share the common mistakes they see in TEQSA applications and how to avoid them.

Don’t underestimate the time or cost involved in applying

This is one of the biggest mistakes we see applicants make through the process. Many new private providers have no idea how much time and effort it takes to produce a high-quality, organised application.

With policies, procedures and at least one course to be reviewed for accreditation, it can take six to twelve months to get to the point of submitting your application. Then approval alone can take another nine to twelve months. It is also important to note that you will need to have key staff in place before you can receive accreditation. This means that you will need to make hires before submitting your application.

Don’t leave things to the last minute.  It can be a very long minute.

Seek advice but write the application yourself

While we do recommend that you seek the advice of TEQSA consultants when compiling your application, we don’t recommend having someone external to your organisation write the application or any of its attendant documents. You need to be familiar with the content you have included, and this is only possible when you are heavily involved in its completion.

Do seek counsel; consultants will provide you with incredible insight through the application process, but make sure you find a competent writer on your team to compile the application. It is very easy to identify applications that have been written by consultants, as there is often repetition from other applications within the language and policies. Applicants must also declare the assistance they have received.

Get your governance right

Through your application, you need to demonstrate an understanding of what it means to be a higher education provider, and this starts by having the right governance in place.

If your organisational structure, team, systems and processes are not right, it is highly likely the accreditor will not proceed any further through your application. It will be rejected.  The view is, “If the governance is not right how can you get anything else right”.  We can’t reiterate this enough; robust governance is critical to having a successful application and a successful higher education institution.

You need to have people in your governing body who have senior experience in higher education. You also need to ensure there aren’t too many casuals in your organisation and that there is an adequate number of experienced and qualified senior staff in a range of academic leadership positions.

Watch your language

When you are applying to become a higher education provider you need to use the appropriate language through your application as this too proves that you have a greater understanding of what it means to be a higher education institution.

Tertiary education is different from vocational education. For example, you don’t have teachers you have lecturers and tutors. Similarly, it’s not about competencies and skill sets; it’s about concepts and learning outcomes, knowledge, skills and attitudes. The Australian Qualifications Framework or AQF is your best friend when developing appropriate course material.

Check your application for clarity and consistency

An accreditor will want to see a well-organised, logical and cohesive application. In reality, though they are often presented with disorganised applications that are repetitive and contradictory in some form, and it is a quick way to lose credibility.

Edit and proof-read your submission

While this may seem obvious, you would be surprised at the number of errors that occur in TEQSA applications. Edit, proof-read, cross-check, get an independent reader, and repeat.

As you are applying to be a higher education provider you can be sure that accreditors have high expectations regarding the quality of your application. Spelling mistakes and grammatical errors do not build confidence that you can provide adequate education at a tertiary level.

Are you a private provider looking to gain TEQSA registration or accreditation? At DVE Solutions, our Senior Consultants in Higher Education are members of TEQSA’s panel of experts and can help you put together a high quality and carefully considered TEQSA application. Call us today on 1800 870 677.