ELICOS operators – English colleges that prepare students for higher education – now come under either TEQSA or ASQA and will need to meet the National ELICOS Standards to be registered by the government on its Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS).
However, TEQSA says it wants to form a “collaborative relationship” with NEAS due to its extensive experience in accrediting the sector.
NEAS Executive Director Anne Holmes said the first meeting between the bodies last month was “very fruitful”.
“NEAS is convinced of TEQSA’s genuine efforts to avoid duplicating regulatory processes. We are looking forward to cooperation and assistance in ensuring Australia’s reputation of high quality education,” she said.
Due to policy changes, regulation of the ELICOS sector was handed over to TEQSA and ASQA, resulting in a sidelining of NEAS’s role as de facto regulator which it successfully filled for 22 years.
“NEAS is convinced of TEQSA’s genuine efforts to avoid duplicating regulatory processes”
Some complain the changes have caused confusion and even threaten to lower standards. The head of English Australia, Sue Blundell, warned that confusion with VET regulation could give room to “dodgy providers charging AUS$95 a week and saying, ‘Come with us because we don’t mark attendance’”.
While TEQSA says it will not outsource accreditation of ELT providers, it sees NEAS’s processes and accreditation as of benefit to the sector and expressed an interest in sourcing its expertise in the future.
TEQSA Commissioner Ian Hawke has also been vocal about his commitment to getting regulation right in the ELT sector, which has seen falling enrolments for three years due to the high Australian dollar and high student visa rejection rates. Speaking at a briefing last month he said English language standards were “a major, decade-long, sector-wide issue”.