At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, TEQSA quickly mobilised support for the Australian higher education sector. The agency deployed a number of initiatives, including:
- streamlining assessment processes for Graduate Certificate and Undergraduate Certificate programs to support providers to offer these online short courses to students
- refunding and waiving eligible fees paid by providers as part of the Australian Government's Higher Education Relief Package
- liaising with local and international peak bodies to stay informed of the evolving situation, domestically and internationally
- continuing to update TEQSA's website with information and resources to support the sector.
A dedicated online learning good practice website was the first key resource developed to support providers in making the rapid transition to online delivery as a result of the pandemic restrictions. The resources made available covered a range of topics related to online learning, from getting started and enabling staff to work online, to supporting student experiences and assessment integrity. From its launch in April 2020 to June 2020, the website was visited more than 17 300 times. More information about the website is available at www.teqsa.gov.au/online-learning-good-practice.
The COVID-19 pandemic had a significant effect on TEQSA's work practices, with staff moving to working from home arrangements in March 2020. Measures such as lessening the administrative burden of regulation on providers through granting extensions of registration and accreditation periods and focusing on individual provider support, directly and through liaison with peak bodies, were also implemented. For more information about adjustments TEQSA has made to support staff see Section 4: Human resources.
Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 survey of stakeholders was not conducted and instead a series of focus groups with provider peak bodies were held to gauge stakeholder views of TEQSA's performance during 2019-20. As a consequence, some aspects of TEQSA's performance were not able to be measured.