THE nation's universities regulator has granted Charles Sturt University just a four-year extension of its registration and set five strict conditions it must meet to ensure its future.
CSU was notified a fortnight ago that the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) had identified a number of shortcomings in the university's regulatory systems, including academic risk management, student performance reporting and academic misconduct.
TEQSA initially barred CSU from enrolling any new students through its Study Centres, operated by Study Group Australia, citing concerns over management and quality assurance.
Most of the university's international students are enrolled through the CSU Study Centres, with CSU providing course materials and oversight.
An ongoing ban on study centre enrolments would have been a major blow to CSU, but that condition was revoked a week later after the university provided more information to TEQSA.
The standard re-registration through TEQSA is for seven years and it is unusual for a university to be offered less than that.
The conditions placed on CSU's re-registration are also unusual, but vice chancellor Professor Andrew Vann played down concerns.
He admitted CSU was disappointed it was not granted a seven-year re-registration but said the executive was working through each of the conditions and was confident each would be revoked.
Naturally we would have preferred a seven-year registration but I think people understand the work we are doing to address the regulator's concerns.CSU vice chancellor Professor Andrew Vann
"Naturally we would have preferred a seven-year registration but I think people [at the university] understand the work we are doing to address the regulator's concerns," Professor Vann said.
"The over-arching issue is that what TEQSA wants is for the university to demonstrate a vigorous approach to quality assurance that's both visible and recorded.
"We have a plan in progress to address most of the conditions and as we satisfy the regulator they can be removed."
In an email to all staff following the TEQSA decision, Professor Vann said CSU was "committed to building risk management and quality assurance capability and capacity".
"The university does not and will not tolerate contract cheating and has built stringent measures into our risk management approach," Professor Vann said in the letter.
He told the Western Advocate that "contract cheating" referred to the practice of students paying another person to complete an assignment for them.
Professor Vann said such misconduct had always existed in universities but technology had made it easier for would-be cheats to find someone else to do their work, and they could even be based overseas.
"One of the issues for TEQSA is they want to see that we have stringent processes in place to detect this sort of misconduct," he said.
The five remaining conditions on CSU's registration imposed by TEQSA require the university to supply annual reports on academic risk management, student performance reporting, academic governance processes, academic misconduct and the scholarship activities of staff at the CSU Study Centres.