The Education Act 1989 (the Act) strikes a balance between the independence and autonomy of tertiary education institutions (TEIs) and the need for them to be accountable as public organisations.
TEIs are formally held accountable through their annual reports and through investment planning and the performance monitoring role of the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC). The Act also provides for intervention mechanisms where a TEI is considered to pose a risk to the Crown. The quality of the qualifications delivered by TEIs and the “institutional quality” of TEIs are monitored by external quality assurance bodies.
While TEIs are defined in the Act as independent and autonomous institutions, they are regarded as Crown entities for accountability and reporting purposes, and are covered by the accountability mechanisms provided for in the Crown Entities Act 2004. The relevant provisions of the Education Act 1989 and Crown Entities Act 2004 need to be read together to gain a full picture.