The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has completed its inquiries into alleged anti-competitive conduct by tertiary admissions centres (TACs) and decided to discontinue its investigation.
The ACCC commenced its investigation after the Australian National University (ANU) alleged that the Western Australian Tertiary Institutions Service Centre (TISC) and the South Australian Tertiary Admissions Centre (SATAC) had both, independently, refused to supply tertiary admission services to ANU.
ANU had alleged that this was for the purpose of preventing or restricting ANU from attracting students based in WA and SA respectively, and competing with the local tertiary institutions in those States.
“In considering this complaint, the ACCC examined a range of potential competition issues, including whether the alleged conduct could substantially lessen competition in the market for tertiary education,” ACCC Commissioner Sarah Court said.
“While the ACCC recognises that the alleged conduct has the potential to raise competition issues, it has decided to discontinue its investigation in light of the recent Higher Education Standards Panel’s report, Improving the Transparency of Higher Education Admissions Processes.”
“The ACCC has noted recommendations from the Higher Education Standards Panel’s report which, once implemented, will improve the accessibility and comparability of information for prospective students. Implementation of the recommendations is also likely to minimise any lessening of competition arising from the alleged conduct in the future,” Ms Court said.
The ACCC does not generally comment on its investigations, but has issued this release due to the public nature of ANU’s complaint.
Improving the Transparency of Higher Education Admissions Processes was published on 16 November 2016. One of the report’s considerations was whether the current state-based arrangements allowed students’ mobility to apply to institutions across state borders.
On 16 December 2016 the Government announced that it has accepted the recommendations in the Report and will aim to implement as many of the recommendations as possible for the start of the 2018 academic year.