Avondale College of Higher Education has become the first Australian non-university higher education provider granted self-accrediting authority by the country’s national regulator.
The classification from the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) means Avondale can self-accredit all of its higher education courses, including higher degrees by coursework and by research.
“Self-accrediting authority is not granted lightly,” says TEQSA’s acting chief commissioner Professor Nick Saunders. Avondale submitted its application in July—the initial documentation exceeded 2000 pages—and a “rigorous” assessment process followed. But as Professor Saunders notes, TEQSA benefitted from accrediting multiple Avondale courses over the past few years. This gave the regulator a better understanding of Avondale’s academic governance and of its quality assurance processes. “TEQSA looked for evidence of proven experience, a history of low risk and most importantly, strong academic governance and the ability to self-assure critical higher education processes,” he says.
“It’s probably impossible to say any one milestone is the most significant, but this has to be right up there,” says the chair of Avondale’s governing body, Dr Barry Oliver, who has served on Avondale College Council for 17 years.
President Professor Ray Roennfeldt describes the granting of self-accrediting authority as a “new era for Avondale.” “While self-accrediting authority does not provide university status, it does require that the institution’s internal processes are at least as robust and rigorous as that of a university. So, in this regard, it is a large step towards the fulfilment of Avondale’s vision to be an Australian Christian university.”
He is grateful to all members of Avondale’s staff, particularly vice-president (quality and strategy) Professor Jane Fernandez who “capably managed the application process.” “Our staff make Avondale what it is; a provider of quality higher education that motivates people to serve humankind.”
Ray notes, though, that with new responsibility comes new challenges. “We must—and will—live up to the trust that has been extended to us.”
Established by the Seventh-day Adventist Church in 1897, Avondale has been a registered higher education provider since 1974. It has been offering postgraduate masters degrees since the early 1990s and doctoral degrees since 2006.
Brenton Stacey is public relations officer for Avondale College of Higher Education in Cooranbong, New South Wales, Australia.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/6499