The Australian Law Students' Association (ALSA) has criticised the Government's newly announced Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA).
ALSA claims the new national regulator and quality assurance agency for higher education should provide comprehensive and frequent reporting on the outcome of all its audits, and make that reporting publicly available.
There is currently is no requirement for reporting in the proposed legislation for TEQSA, other than a required annual report to the Minster for Education, about its operations during the year.
"If TEQSA were to make public the findings of all TEQSA audits, the position of students would be enhanced and they would be able to make informed decisions about their institution of study. Further public reporting would also ensure the efficacy of TEQSA remains transparent and accountable," ALSA vice-president (education) Aimee Riley told Lawyers Weekly, adding that audit outcomes could be made public on the MyUniversity website.
Riley also said ALSA wanted the national reform of the legal profession considered in proposed changes to quality standards in education.
Under the proposed legislation, TEQSA will not only monitor quality but also set standards as prescribed by the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) - a framework ALSA believes is partly deficient for legal education.
"Some of the changes to the LLB and JD qualifications in the AQF do not align with the traditional tenets of what is a highly specified, vocational degree," said the former ALSA vice-president (education), Melissa Coade.
Coade said there could be serious consequences for the future of law degrees if the AQF was not revised to include long-term considerations like how institutions like the Supreme Court will best be able to accredit legal education providers.
Changes to the AQF include the requirements for the award of Bachelors (Hons) degrees (level eight AQF) and the classification of the Juris Doctor (JD) as a level nine Masters program.
TEQSA aims to reduce the number of higher education regulatory and quality assurance bodies from nine to one and bring together the regulation activities by the states and territories and the Australian Universities Quality Agency.
Despite its objections, ALSA commended the opportunity for TEQSA - which willcommence regulatory function in January 2012 - to generate competition in the legal education market and guarantee quality education.