Higher-Education Sector Response to COVID-19

The Australian higher education sector has agreed to take a joint approach to effectively and successfully manage the coronavirus pandemic. In a Joint Statement published today, the sector’s peak bodies outline the principles they believe will meet community expectations for public health and safety while mitigating the impact of COVID-19 on higher education teaching, learning, assessment, placement and graduate mobility.

The shared concern of the Australian higher-education sector that effectively managing during the COVID-19 pandemic is key to the well-being of a fair, equitable and prosperous Australia led to the Joint Statement outlining consensus-based principles for adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic in the following areas:

  1. Accreditation Flexibility and maintaining Course Quality
  2. Maintaining Quality during changed Teaching and Learning
  3. Supporting Online Assessments while maintaining Rigour
  4. Mitigating a reduced availability of Professional Placements
  5. Flexibility on (Re-)Registration/Accreditation of Professionals
  6. Maintaining International Accords for Professionals’ Mobility

The Joint Statement authors were also mindful that in managing the post-COVID-19 pandemic situation, the learnings from the many innovative approaches taken should not be lost so that the sector can effectively benefit from the rich substrate of experiences gained during the pandemic.

The following peak bodies are signatories to the Joint Statement:

The Australian Department of Education, Skills and Employment (DESE) was directly engaged with the creation of the Joint Statement. The Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency (TEQSA) welcomes and supports the creation of a joint statement of principles to guide professional accreditation during the COVID-19 pandemic and will refer to the statement in its own course accreditation activities.

Minister for Education, Skills and Employability Tehan has welcomed our initiative to develop a Joint Statement, in particular at a time when it is important to maximise flexibility and reduce regulatory burden wherever possible. Writing to ACoP, the Minister notes that it is pleasing that we also covered the impact on students regarding the availability of placements, practicums and/or work experience opportunities. The Minister also invites updates and feedback from ACoP on the implementation of the Joint Statement including how Government might be able to assist or address any particular matters of concern.

We understand that Minister Tehan has also written to ~100 accreditation bodies noting our initiative, encouraging adoption of the principles outlined in the Joint Statement and referring to our web site.

The Australian Council of Professions is delighted to have found sector-wide support for our initiative to develop the Higher Education COVID-19 Joint Statement” said ACoP President Klaus Veil. “This broad consensus ensures that the education, work experience, graduation, registration and mobility of Australian Professionals is maintained in these difficult times.

The Australian Collaborative Education Network (ACEN) is pleased to support this Joint Statement as it highlights the impact of the COVID pandemic on work integrated learning (WIL) and particularly the reduced availability of professional placements” said ACEN President Franziska Trede when announcing their support. “The new solutions emerging due to the pandemic are already evidence of stronger collaborative partnerships between universities, industry and professional accreditation bodies and the advancement of WIL”.

We agree to work in partnership with each other and with government to adapt higher education courses and registration/accreditation to mitigate and minimise the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic while upholding the continuity, integrity and reputation of Australian higher education and recognising its indispensable contribution to Australia’s well-being and prosperity.

Joint Statement of Principles for the Higher Education Sector COVID-19 Response, 5 May 2020

Download the Joint Statement here


If you have questions on the Joint Statement or wish to provide comments and/or feedback, please contact us on 1300 664 587 or CEO@Professions.org.au.