The work of the TPS is most effective when it is not merely reacting to a provider closure after it occurs. The Memorandum of Understanding arrangements that exist between the national regulators and the TPS are designed to ensure that the TPS becomes aware of any regulatory action taken by regulators at the earliest possible time, thus ensuring that the TPS is engaged with the provider under regulatory action in a proactive and strategic manner.
The TPS was advised of a regulatory action by TEQSA against a higher education provider in late 2013. A long drawn out period ensued including a provider appeal, initial conditional stay order, final hearing by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) and an agreement for a very short teach-out period.
The TPS stayed engaged with the provider during this period of some ten months, but more actively, at key decision points, ensuring the provider was aware of its obligations to students and prepared to meet its obligations.
Towards the latter and crucial period, the TPS maintained frequent contact with the provider, and worked closely with potential alternative providers and a number of other stakeholders, including TEQSA and the Council of Private Higher Education, the peak body representing private higher education providers.
After close consultation with all parties, a suitable provider with capacity to offer placements to most students was found. Those students who did not accept a placement were refunded their unspent tuition fees by their provider. The TPS actively engaged in negotiations that led to student placements with alternative providers and closely monitored the entire process until all students had either been placed or received refunds.
The work of the TPS in conjunction with TEQSA and the provider ensured that the provider met its obligations. All affected students were assisted with either a placement or a refund. As a result no calls were made on the TPS and there were no direct costs to the OSTF from this provider closure.