Benchmark Fees and the TEC Course Register

If you have new courses in 2018, or you are increasing fees in 2018 in line with the AMFM, you will need to submit an SDR Course Register file with the new and changed course register records. Historically TEC advised against submitting course approval requests before and during the December SDR rounds to avoid unintended errors in their December SDRs.

Mysteriously TEC “recently discovered that TEOs can actually submit new course and qualification approvals for the New Year in December and January.” However there is some confusion about the method for doing so, and TEC has provided no specific communication about the topic.

This being the case my advice would be to make sure that your December 2017 has been successfully submitted before submitting the 2018 Course Register against the April 2018 return date.

If you have new qualifications and therefore new courses to add to the Course Register, and those courses have fees, then you may get caught up in the strange world of TEC’s benchmark fees. These seem to be a tool that TEC uses to determine whether the fees you are setting are within a set of ill- defined limits, as well as complying with AMFM policy as it relates to a fee increase.

I have been told that TEC’s decisions on fee levels use a process which is “partly automated and partly manual.” I’m thinking that the manual part has been a bit out of control. Consider that the fees approved by TEC for various TEOs for the same qualification in 2017 varied by up to 100%. Whether or not the actual fees charged were as approved is of course a different matter.

The other interesting point is that – search TEC’s web site as hard as you can – and I don’t think you will find mention of fee benchmarks. In the SAC3+ funding conditions you will find one oblique mention of “benchmark” in relation to fees, and in the new conditions released in relation to Fees Free there is no mention.

In short there is what some may call a “bugger’s muddle” around the matter of benchmark fees. So good luck if you are sending fee data via the SDR Course Register file for new qualifications for 2018. Let me know how you get on.