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Australia’s comprehensive quality assurance mechanisms
Australia is recognized as one of the worlds leading providers of education and training. The Australian education system is innovative and effective, attracting interests from many governments seeking to improve their own education systems. Australian qualifications are widely recognized, gaining the attention of many employers and launching many successful careers. The Australian education experience is seen as different and challenging, each year attracting enrolments from hundreds of thousands of international students who wish to maximize their potential. The underlying reasons for this strong interest is widespread recognition that Australian education is quality education.
Australia has comprehensive quality assurance mechanisms embedded in its education system at the government and institutional level as well as through professional peak bodies.
The starting point is the Australian Qualifications Framework which ensures that only accredited qualifications are delivered. While vocational and technical education institutions are accredited by State and Territory Governments, Australia’s universities are self accrediting and operate within a framework of autonomy and accountability. In a competitive world, Australia’s universities ensure that the courses meet the most recent demands for knowledge and skills.
Many institutions are also members of professional bodies or councils that have their own codes of conduct. These codes set standards for academic and support services for international students. These arrangements provide international students with quality assurance and high levels of ongoing support.
These peak bodies include Universities Australia, formerly known as the Australian Vice Chancellors’ Committee (AVCC) for higher education; English Australia covering institutions providing English language teaching; TAFE Directors Australia for government vocational education and training providers and the Australian Council of Private Education and Training (ACPET) and the Australian Council of Independent Vocational Colleges (ACIVC) which cover private vocational education and training providers.
In the field of higher education, the Australian Government has developed ‘Higher Education Protocols’ which provide a mechanism for the registration of higher education providers. Under these Protocols, the title ‘University’ has been reserved so that it can not be used for any other commercial or business use.
For the higher education sector, the Australian Government established the Australian Universities Quality Agency (AUQA) as an independent, national quality assurance body that audits the key activities of teaching, learning, research and management in Australian universities. Reports of these audits are made public (refer to website: www.auqa.edu.au).
Realising that many Australian universities are offering courses at either an offshore campus or with a local education partner, the mandate of AUQA has been extended to audit these programs so that the institutions maintain standards at least equivalent to those provided in Australia.
In case of vocational and technical education, the National Training Quality Council monitors and provides advice on quality assurance processes in the vocational education and training system and at the same time ensures that the system provides quality training that is relevant to industry.
This is a clear demonstration of Australia’s commitment to quality education and training. Courses and institutions that have been approved for international students can be found on the official Australian Government’s web site www.studyinaustralia.gov.au .