December 16, 2020

TEQSA discussion paper on Scholarship – IRU response

The IRU has provided a response to TEQSA’s discussion paper, ‘Making and assessing claims of scholarship and scholarly activity‘.

The Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) has proposed five principles to guide a revised approach to how TEQSA considers whether a higher education provider is achieving the standards that involve ‘scholarship’.

IRU members seek to create a culture of scholarship supported through university wide leadership, plans and actions.
‘Scholarship’ is mentioned nine times in the Higher Education Standards Framework (HESF), five of which relate to the categories of providers and the holding of self-accrediting powers. The four relating to the delivery of education require that:

  • current and recent scholarship inform the content of each course (3.1)
  • staff knowledge is informed by continuing scholarship or research or advances in practice [IRU
    highlights use of ‘or’ not ‘and’} (3.2); and
  • research training takes place in an environment of several factors including scholarship (4.2.2).

TEQSA points to other standards concerning the overall approach to teaching where it sees the notion of scholarship behind the words and hence it argues relevant to assessing those standards.

These standards focus on the courses provided and the learning outcomes achieved. It is critical that TEQSA continues to assess against the standards and not create enhanced requirements for what is sufficient to provide higher education. A discussion of what scholarship means and involves is useful. It is not useful for TEQSA to attempt to be prescriptive about what is involved or to put more emphasis on one concept than the standards support.

With the growing need for providers to engage with industry and initiate work-based learning opportunities, the notions of scholarship need to interact effectively with these newer ways to educate students and not contradict the policy driving industry linkages.

As ever the need to ensure that the regulatory approach is proportionate to risk and necessity is paramount. It must support development of future higher education while ensuring current delivery is consistent with expectations of the higher education standards framework.

The assessment of scholarship must achieve a sensible outcome of a focus at the institutional approach within the university and its major teaching components, that draws on the precise activity and achievement of individual staff members as illustrative.

Principle 4, the expectation of an institutional plan and its successful implementation, should be the core requirement for an effective TEQSA assessment of scholarship.

Read the full IRU submission (PDF)