New higher education authority calls for fresh IT system

Application to house public and private education provider data

The federal Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR), is designing a new core information system for a new higher education agency – the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) – which is scheduled to begin operating around mid-2011.

TEQSA will be an independent body with powers to “regulate university and non-university higher education providers, monitor quality and set standards”. Its primary mission will be to help students receive the best quality higher education at any provider.

At the core of TEQSA will be a new information management system in the form of a Web-based portal.

The portal will integrate a diverse set of functions – from campus, faculty and course details to contact information, accreditation, a risk engine and a payment gateway for fees management.

Access to the portal will be available to TEQSA staff and approved third-parties, including representatives from the high education providers. Some information will also be made available to the public.

TEQSA's app will manage a national register of higher education providers, a new higher education standards framework, and the My University website.

The My University website may be modeled on the controversial My School website.

In tender documents released this week, DEEWR will consider proposals based on a commercial, off-the-shelf, “COTS”, application or a system developed from scratch.

“It is unlikely that any supplier will have a ready-made ‘COTS’ package that could fulfil all the complex requirements of this task without significant modification,” according to DEEWR.

“However, the selection panel will be looking for responses that can demonstrate how any existing products or projects can act as ‘proof of concept’ and provide the Agency with sufficient confidence in the solution being built within a tight timeline.”

A detailed strategic architecture document including scope of work will be sought by 1 April this year with the application completed by the end of February 2012.

Hosting and support services will be ongoing as requested by TEQSA.

TEQSA itself is likely to remain a small organisation with minimal ICT support staff, according to DEEWR, so the app will be an “external solution” hosted in the cloud allowing TEQSA staff “to work effectively with minimal IT knowledge”.

The new “higher education decision support system” will be a risk driven decision-support system with “allied information management capability”. Initially it will capture existing state and territory information into a national register.

A tender briefing will be held in Canberra later this month and the closing date is 15 February.

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