Guidelines for the use of the word 'university'

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Only registered higher education providers can offer Australian higher education qualifications.

Individuals or groups wishing to use the word ‘university’ in a business, company or domain name must apply for consent from the Minister for Education and Youth, regardless of whether they are offering educational courses. This is to ensure that organisations purporting to be a university are in fact registered by the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) to offer higher education courses, thereby assuring consumers of the high quality and legitimacy of the entity.

It is possible for non-universities that want to use the word ‘university’ in their name to have this approved - where it is clear from their name that they are not purporting to be an education provider.

From 24 April 2021, the Government introduced new requirements to use the word ‘university’ (or words or expressions of similar meaning) in Australian domain names. From that date, it is unlawful to use a new Australian domain name (e.g. ending in “.au”) with these words or letters without approval from the Minister. The requirement applies to domain names that include the letters “uni” unless those letters are part of a longer word, such as ‘community’ or ‘junior’. If the Minister’s approval is not sought and given, an affected domain name may be suspended or cancelled by the domain name administrator, as outlined in part 2.16 of the “.au Domain Administration Rules: Licensing” document.

The following guidelines and application forms are to be used by applicants for business, company and domain names. There is no fee imposed for the processing of applications.

For further information or enquiries, please send an email to: HigherEd@dese.gov.au.

Guidelines and application forms

Business names

Company names

Domain names

Administration of the domain name requirements

Section 204A of the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency Act 2011 (TEQSA Act) sets out that a person must not use an Australian domain name that includes the word ‘university’ (or a word or expression of similar meaning) unless an approval from the Minister for Education and Youth is in force. The Minister for Education and Youth has delegated his power to approve the use of the word ‘university’ (or words or expressions of similar meaning) in Australian domain names to employees in the Department of Education, Skills and Employment (the department).

.au Domain Administration Limited (auDA) is endorsed by the Australian Government to administer the registration of Australian domain names. It does this using an automated online registration system. auDA provides information to the department on new domain names registered since 8 March 2021 that contain the word ‘university’ (or words or expressions of similar meaning).

When the Department becomes aware of a newly registered domain name that contains the word ‘university’ (or words or expressions of similar meaning), it will contact the licence holder in order to either:

  • advise approval to use that domain name, or
  • request the licence holder submit an application for approval to use the domain name.

Notice of collection of personal information

This notice sets out how the department may collect, use and disclose information, including personal information, that is required in order to administer the domain name requirements set out in section 204A of the TEQSA Act, consistent with Australian Privacy Principle 5 - notification of the collection of personal information. The Department is subject to the Privacy Act 1988 (Privacy Act) including the Australian Privacy Principles, which are a key part of the privacy protection framework under this Act.

Personal information collected by the department to administer the domain name requirements is protected by law, including under the Privacy Act. Personal information is information or an opinion about an identifiable individual. Personal information includes an individual’s name and contact details.

  1. The Department will collect your personal information for administration of the domain name requirements. The contact for the collection of this personal information is:

    Department of Education, Skills and Employment
    Higher Education Division
    GPO Box 9880
    Canberra ACT 2601
    Email: HigherEd@dese.gov.au

  2. The Department will collect your personal information from auDA in relation to your registration of an Australian domain name that either contains the word ‘university’, or contains a word or expressions that may have a similar meaning to the word ‘university’.

    Words or expressions that are considered to have a similar meaning are set out in a legislative instrument, the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (Words or Expressions with the Same or Similar Meaning to the Word University) Determination 2021. The instrument provides that the word ‘Universities’, the letters ‘uni’ or foreign translations of ‘university’ are words or expressions that are of similar meaning to the word ‘university’.

    The information to be collected from auDA in relation to your application for approval to use the domain name includes:

    • Domain Name
    • Creation Date
    • Registrar
    • Registrant Name (entity or person applying)
    • Registrant Contact (person)
    • Registrant Contact Email
    • Registrant Address
    • Registrant Phone
    • Registrant Fax
    • Second-Level Domain (2LD)
       
  3. Collection of your personal information is authorised by section 204A of the TEQSA Act.
     
  4. The department collects your personal information in order to contact you to:
    • issue an approval for the use of that domain name, or
    • request that you submit an application for approval to use the domain name, or
    • Future contact, if required, for the purposes of administering the domain name requirements.

    If an application is requested under the second point above, it would need to set out:

    • the nature of the proposed use for the domain name
    • if the domain name includes reference to an existing Australian higher education provider, evidence of that provider’s authorisation to use its name
    • other information that may be relevant to consideration of approval to use the domain name as set out in the legislative instrument Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (Matters Relevant to the Approval of Domain Names) Determination 2021.
       
  5. If the department is unable to collect your personal information, as outlined at (b), you will not receive an approval to use that domain name, and the licence holder will not be able to lawfully use that domain name.
     
  6. The department may disclose your personal information for the purposes of administering the domain name requirements to other bodies responsible for the administration of higher education, domain names or business and company names that contain the word ‘university’, including the following:

    Personal information collected may also be disclosed to other parties where you have agreed or where it is required or authorised by law.

    • Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency,
    • Australian Securities and Investment Commission
    • Australian Taxation office
    • auDA
    • state and territory education authorities.
       
  7. You can get more information about the way in which the department will manage your personal information, including our full privacy policy at our website or by requesting a copy from the department at privacy@dese.gov.au. The privacy policy contains information about how you may access and correct any of your personal information that the department holds.
     
  8. The department’ s privacy policy also contains information about how you may complain about a breach of the Australian Privacy Principles and how the department will deal with such a complaint.

    If you have any enquiries or complaints about privacy within the department please email us at privacy@dese.gov.au or write to:

    Privacy Officer
    Legal Services
    Department of Education, Skills and Employment
    LOC: C50MA1
    GPO Box 9880
    Canberra ACT 2601

  9. The department will not provide the personal information outlined at (b) or (d) to any overseas recipients.