Avondale’s journey to become a university

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Avondale College of Higher Education’s registration as an Australian university college marks the culmination of many years of sustained quality development.

Between 1974 and the early 1990s, Avondale gained accreditation for degree programs in teacher education, nursing and health, humanities and creative arts, science, business and theology.

In 1994, Avondale applied for university status to the New South Wales Minister for Education. The panel assessing the submission recommended the granting of university status subject to some conditions, which it intended Avondale to fulfil as a university. Cabinet did not endorse the panel’s recommendation. Instead, the Minister asked Avondale to address the conditions, especially the requirement to increase research activity, before making a further submission.

Over the next 10 years, Avondale extended its teaching and research profile and developed a suite of postgraduate degree programs, culminating in 2006 with accreditation to award Doctor of Philosophy degrees.

In 2006, Avondale made a second submission for university status. The expert panel’s response indicated a need for significant research development, a conclusion reinforced soon afterwards by the Commonwealth Department of Education’s publication of indicative research benchmarks for higher education providers.

Avondale responded with a strategic drive to advance its research performance while maintaining its tradition for excellence in teaching. By 2012, Avondale had achieved a ratio of research publications per staff member equivalent to the mean across selected Australian universities.

Avondale simultaneously expanded its program of higher degrees by research, introduced online delivery of courses, improved quality assurance processes, and developed a staff profile to include academics of professorial rank.

In 2013, Avondale negotiated a relationship with mentoring partner Charles Sturt University. Mutual recognition of each institution’s academic programs led to the dual badging of Avondale’s graduation testamurs as Avondale and Charles Sturt qualifications.

In 2014, Avondale became the first Australian non-university higher education provider to be granted full self-accrediting authority by the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA)—a key distinguishing characteristic of Australian universities.

In 2015, Avondale became a leader in quality assurance for the private higher education sector by inaugurating the Higher Education Private Provider Quality Network, which now involves 40 institutions collaborating to foster excellence in their higher education programs.

In 2019, TEQSA approved a change of category application lodged by Avondale, from “Higher Education Provider” to “Australian University College.” The addition of Avondale to the “Australian University College” category is the first time a higher education provider has qualified for a change of category under TEQSA.

In 2021, TEQSA, operating under new standards, approved a change of category application lodged by Avondale, from “Australian University College” to “Australian University.

Dr John Cox is former president (2004-2008) of Avondale College of Higher Education.

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