What Are Threshold Standards and Why Are They Important?
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What Are Threshold Standards and Why Are They Important?

The Higher Education Standards Framework (Threshold Standards) was refreshed in 2021 with very few minor changes in fact. The standards articulate the requirements that must be met for both registration and accreditation as a Higher Education Provider - https://www.teqsa.gov.au/how-we-regulate/higher-education-standards-framework-2021

There are 7 domains in all – student participation; learning environment; teaching; research and research training; institutional quality assurance; governance and accountability; representation, informational and informational management.

Student participation and attainment

The framework aims at ensuring student participation and attainment. The fundamental being providing students (both domestic and international) with a safe, well-tuned and supportive environment where they are able to achieve an appropriate certified qualification. And at the same time feel safe and supported in their endeavours.

Each domain is segmented so that the Standard can be viewed ion considerable detail. The sub setting/sections are useful guides to what is needed to meet the standards and provides a useful framework to provide the necessary evidence and supporting documentation. The standards are designed to be useful to providers in the process of internally assuring what is best practice.


The importance of regular auditing

My own School (UBSS) is cognisant of the requirements of the various standards (we do not focus on Domain #5 research and research training) and each trimester review ourselves against the standards by way of a Threshold Standards Audit. The most recent (March 2023) can be viewed here.

Further the issue of risk remains important and a similar process is followed quarterly with a formal Risk Register audit that overviews risk at both GCA and UBSS School level and provides the Board of Directors with a clear understanding of the prevailing issues and what kind of mitigation is in place – as needed. The most recent audit (March 2023) is available here.

Combined, the two sets of regular audits – standards (each trimester) and risk (each quarter) provide a high level of sureness for the organisation and at the same time highlight issues or domains that need more attention or focus.


Scholarship and Attrition

In recent times UBSS were asked to focus on two specific areas – scholarship and attrition – seemingly of no great significance, but quite important elements of the standards audit. The issue of Scholarship is addressed in a number of important documents -

https://www.ubss.edu.au/media/4597/csr-update-february-2023.pdf ;
https://www.ubss.edu.au/articles/2023/march/what-is-scholarship-and-how-do-you-do-it/ and

Attrition is addressed at - https://www.ubss.edu.au/media/3968/ubss-attrition-2016-2020.pdf

Ongoing audit against external standards is essential to maintain the health of the institution. Augmenting this with regular external auditing (this includes external membership of audit committees) also proves extremely useful and makes the process of registration and accreditation much more efficient and focussed.





Emeritus Professor Greg Whateley is the Deputy Vice Chancellor at UBSS and Vice President (Academic) at GCA.