Policy Directory

UOW ACADEMIC REVIEW POLICY

Date first approved:
28 November 2008

Date of effect:
1 January 2009

Date last amended:
(refer Version Control Table):
12 January 2016

Date of Next Review:
Currently under review

First approved by:

University Council

Custodian title & e-mail address

Director, Academic Quality and Standards Unit
quality@uow.edu.au

Author

Manager, Academic Quality and Policy
Course Management Coordinator

Responsible Division & Unit

Academic Quality and Standards Unit
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) Portfolio

Supporting documents, procedures & forms of this policy

Course and Subject Approval Procedures – Less Significant Amendments to Existing Courses
Course and Subject Approval Procedures – New Offerings and Significant Amendments to Existing Courses

Course Policy
, Course Design Procedures and Course Review Procedures
Faculty and Academic Unit Review Procedures

General Course Rules

Conferrals and Issuance Policy

Standards and Quality Framework for Learning and Teaching at UOW

Risk Management Policy

References & Legislation

Higher Education Standards Framework
UOW Strategic Plan 2016-2020

Audience

Public – accessible to anyone

Submit your feedback on this policy document using the Policy Feedback Facility.

Contents

1 Purpose of Policy

  • 1. As a self-accrediting institution, the University has an obligation to ensure that it continues to demonstrate high academic standards in learning and teaching programs and services and in the conduct of its research.
  • 2. This policy aims to provide a robust and efficient system to support ongoing academic quality and continuous improvement of academic processes and outcomes at UOW. It sets out, in the context of UOW’s academic quality management structure, the requirements for curriculum and academic unit reviews
  • 3. Related procedures for the conduct of course and academic unit reviews are set out in the Course Review Procedures and the Faculty and Academic Unit Review Procedures respectively.
  • 4. This policy and the accompanying procedures replace the Quality Review Framework approved by Council on 8 October 2004.

2 Definitions

Word/Term

Definition

Academic unit

School, department or program group within a faculty

Course

As under the General Course Rules

Curriculum

As under the Course Design Procedures

DVC(A)

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic)

ECAC

External Course Appraisal Committee

FEC

Faculty Education Committee

FRC

Faculty Research Committee

Learning outcomes

As under the Course Design Procedures

Subject

As under the General Course Rules

UOW

University of Wollongong

3 Application & Scope

  • 1. This policy applies to all reviews of academic activities carried out by the University both on and offshore.

4 Academic Quality Management at UOW

Key Role of Strategic Planning and Academic Reviews

  • 1. Academic quality is primarily managed at UOW through two interconnected sets of processes (depicted in Figure 1 below):
        • a. Strategic planning and reporting processes under which UOW sets institutional goals and monitors performance in achieving those goals at both institutional and unit levels.
        • b. The processes set out in this policy and accompanying procedures for the review of:
          • i. faculties and academic units (section 6), and
          • ii. the course (section 7).
  • 2. The goals, objectives and strategies articulated in institutional and unit planning documents provide the essential reference points for reviews of academic units and the curriculum. The outcomes of those reviews in turn help to shape the development of future goals and objectives and the strategies for their achievement.

Figure 1: Academic Quality Management at UOW

    Image

  • 3. Within this framework, externally-developed quality systems (eg ISO 9001, business excellence frameworks) are also used, as appropriate, as mechanisms for assuring quality in specific areas or units within the University.

UOW Quality Cycle

  • 4. The strategic planning and academic review processes outlined in section 4.1 both apply UOW’s defined cyclical quality process – Plan, Act, Review, Improve – to ensure that the University’s objectives and standards are tested and improved. This cycle is also applied to other processes and activities undertaken at UOW.

Figure 2: UOW Quality Cycle

    cycle

PLAN … identify and define what we want to achieve and develop an approach for achieving those goals

ACT … identify and schedule actions for achieving our goals and implement those strategies

REVIEW … monitor how we are progressing towards achieving our goals

IMPROVE … identify changes that need to be made so that we can better meet our goals and, possibly, reconsider the appropriateness of those goals

Risk management

  • 5. The strategic planning and academic review processes are supported by triennial university-wide strategic risk assessments and other independent reviews of processes conducted by UOW in accordance with its Risk Management Policy. Outcomes of those risk assessments are used as a reference to: (i) set priorities and guide the development of strategies to ensure achievement of UOW’s goals; and (ii) evaluate performance in working towards their achievement.
  • 6. Faculty and other units assess risks at an operational level as part of their annual planning and review process.

Monitoring

  • 7. The strategic planning and academic review processes are monitored at an institutional level by the Academic Senate and the University Council.
  • 8. Faculty Advisory Committees (where established) play a pivotal role in monitoring and supporting these processes at a faculty level.

5 Academic Review Principles

Purpose

  • 1. An academic review should:
        • a. Provide opportunities to reflect on achievements against goals;
        • b. Identify strengths to be built on and opportunities for improvement; and
        • c. Strengthen engagement by staff, students and other relevant stakeholders with the planning process.

Process

  • 2. A review process should reflect the governing principles set out in the UOW Strategic Plan and, in particular, incorporate:
        • a. Rigour;
        • b. Transparency;
        • c. Accountability;
        • d. Collegiality; and
        • e. Objectivity.
  • 3. A review process should include:
        • a. A clear statement of the scope of and terms of reference for the review (including clear links to relevant goals, objectives and strategies);
        • b. Clearly defined responsibilities for initiation and carriage;
        • c. A clear and realistic timeframe;
        • d. Reference to stakeholder feedback (e.g. from students, staff, external community);
        • e. Reference to institutional, faculty and/or unit performance indicators and relevant data
        • f. Reference to relevant external standards or benchmarks;
        • g. External input into major reviews; and
        • h. Appropriate approval, reporting, communication and implementation of the outcomes of the review.

6 Faculty and Academic Unit Reviews

Monitoring and Review Framework

  • 1. Faculty planning and review are critical to the achievement of the goals and objectives of the UOW Strategic Plan. This section sets out the processes for:
        • a. initiating faculty and academic unit reviews at UOW, and
        • b. conducting and reporting on those reviews

      and it is supported by the Faculty and Academic Unit Review Procedures.

Initiation of Reviews

Issues identified through Faculty monitoring and review process

  • 2. Where serious strategic or performance issues in a Faculty are identified by the senior executive or Faculty Advisory Committee (where established) through the faculty monitoring and review process (set out in section 6.1), the DVC(A) shall ask the Executive Dean to make a written submission to the DVC(A) which responds to the issues identified and recommends one of the following options:
        • a. No further action on the basis that the issues lack substance or have otherwise been dealt with;
        • b. Initiation by the Executive Dean of a faculty-administered review of an academic unit in accordance with section 6.5 below; or
        • c. Initiation by the Vice-Chancellor of a centrally-administered, independent review of a faculty or academic unit in accordance with section 6.7 below.
  • 3. Serious issues which may lead to a request for a written response from the Executive Dean include but are not limited to the following:
        • a. Significant performance issues, including failure to meet planning targets;
        • b. Misalignment of the Faculty with UOW Strategic Goals;
        • c. External environmental changes requiring reconsideration of strategic direction;
        • d. Evidence of a decline in academic standards;
        • e. Failure to meet student number targets; and/or
        • f. Significant staff recruitment and/or management issues.
  • 4. After reviewing the Executive Dean’s submission and consulting with other senior executives, the DVC(A) shall make a recommendation to the Vice-Chancellor on the appropriate course of action, which may include any of the options set out in section 6.2.

Initiation by Executive Dean

  • 5. The Executive Dean of a Faculty, for strategic or performance reasons and after consultation with the DVC(A), may at any time:
        • a. initiate a faculty-administered review of an academic unit within the faculty, or
        • b. recommend that the Vice-Chancellor initiate an independent, centrally-administered review of an academic unit within the faculty.
  • 6. The DVC(A) shall monitor the progress of faculty-administered reviews and the Vice-Chancellor may at any time, on advice from the DVC(A), direct that a review of an academic unit, under 6.5(b) be administered centrally.

Initiation by Vice-Chancellor

  • 7. The Vice-Chancellor may initiate an independent, centrally-administered review of a faculty or academic unit either in response to a request by the DVC(A) or Executive Dean under sections 6.5 and 6.6 above, or at any other time, in response to faculty-specific issues listed in section 6.3 or wider environmental or University planning issues, including but not limited to:
        • a. Major changes in strategic direction, disciplinary mix, academic focus or leadership.
        • b. Significant issues in performance identified by the Executive Dean or Senior Executive.
        • c. Significant strategic recruitment issues.
        • d. Significant issues in performance identified in other reviews (e.g. course reviews, faculty-administered reviews).

Review Scope and Focus

  • 8. Faculty and Academic Unit Reviews will assess performance against the UOW Strategic Goals and Objectives and aligned faculty and unit objectives for:
        • a. Learning and Teaching;
        • b. Research;
        • c. Community Engagement;
        • d. Students;
        • e. International Outlook;
        • f. Staff; and
        • g. Business/Planning

as they apply at the time of the review.

Conduct of Faculty-Administered Reviews

  • 9. Where a faculty-administered review of an academic unit is initiated under section 6.5, the Executive Dean, in consultation with the Faculty Executive Committee, shall advise the Academic Unit and activate the review program in accordance with the Faculty and Academic Unit Review Procedures.
  • 10. The Review Committee will be appointed by the Executive Dean, in consultation with the DVC(A), and comprise:
        • a. Executive Dean or senior nominee;
        • b. At least one other senior academic member of the Faculty (e.g. usually from another unit within the faculty);
        • c. At least one senior UOW academic from outside the Faculty; and
        • d. Normally not more than two senior expert(s) in related fields external to UOW.

Review Committee Terms of Reference:

  • 11. The Review Committee shall:
        • a. Review the unit’s performance against UOW’s Goals and Objectives (and aligned faculty and unit objectives) in accordance with the Faculty and Academic Unit Reviews Procedures, with particular reference to:
          • i. the issue(s) triggering the review;
          • ii. information and data provided to or requested by the Committee;
          • iii. stakeholder feedback (e.g. from students, staff, external community); and
          • iv. relevant external standards and benchmarks.
        • b. Provide a report on the review that includes recommendations for improvements and a plan for further action.
  • 12. In accordance with the Faculty and Academic Unit Reviews Procedures, the outcomes of the review shall be:
        • a. reported to the DVC(A) and Vice-Chancellor;
        • b. referred to the Faculty Advisory Committee (where established) for information and comment where appropriate and for reference in the triennial review cycle; and
        • c. implemented by the unit, with monitoring of any outstanding issues to be carried out thereafter via the annual reporting process.

Conduct of Centrally-Administered Reviews

  • 13. Where an independent, centrally-administered review of a faculty or academic unit is initiated, the Vice-Chancellor shall, after consultation with the Executive Dean and DVC(A), advise the Faculty and/or Academic Unit and commence the review in accordance with the Faculty and Academic Unit Review Procedures.

Review Committee Membership:

  • 14. The Review Committee shall be appointed by the Vice-Chancellor and comprise:
        • a. For faculty reviews
          • i. A Deputy Vice-Chancellor or Pro-Vice Chancellor;
          • ii. The Chair or Deputy Chair of Senate;
          • iii. The Chair of the appropriate Faculty Advisory Committee(s) (where established) or their external nominee(s); and
          • iv. Normally not more than two senior experts in related field(s) external to UOW, on advice from the Executive Dean.
        • b. For academic unit reviews
          • i. A Deputy Vice-Chancellor or Pro-Vice Chancellor;
          • ii. The Executive Dean or senior nominee;
          • iii. At least one other senior academic member of the Faculty (eg Head of another unit; FEC/FRC Chair);
          • iv. At least one senior UOW academic from outside the Faculty; and
          • v. One to two senior external expert(s) in a related field on advice from the Executive Dean.

Review Committee Terms of Reference:

  • 15. The Review Committee will:
        • a. Review the unit’s performance against UOW’s Goals and Objectives (and aligned faculty and unit objectives) in accordance with the Faculty and Academic Unit Review Procedures, with particular reference to:
          • i. the issue(s) triggering the review;
          • ii. information and data provided to or requested by the Committee;
          • iii. stakeholder feedback (e.g. from students, staff, external community); and
          • iv. relevant external standards and benchmarks.
        • b. Provide a report on the review that includes recommendations for improvements and a plan for further action.
  • 16. Upon completion of the review, the review report shall be forwarded to the Vice-Chancellor, who shall refer the outcomes to the Faculty for a response in accordance with the Faculty and Academic Unit Review Procedures. The response shall include:
        • a. a plan for action to address issues raised in the review report, or
        • b. reasons why no further action is required in response to issues raised.
  • 17. The Vice-Chancellor shall assess the response and provide a commentary (which may include advice on directions and structure).
  • 18. In accordance with the Faculty and Academic Unit Review Procedures, the report on the review outcomes, the commentary and the response from unit/faculty shall be forwarded, as appropriate, to the Faculty Advisory Committee (where established) for noting and to the Academic Senate and University Council for noting and, where required, approval of the recommendations.
  • 19. The Faculty shall implement the approved recommendations and submit a specific implementation/improvement report, as part of their next Faculty Plan and Review Report, and address any outstanding issues thereafter via that annual reporting process.

7 Curriculum Review and Development

  • 1. Course Reviews and consequential changes to courses shall be conducted in accordance with the Course Policy and related procedures.

8 Roles & Responsibilities

Management

  • 1. The DVC(A) has executive oversight of the implementation of this Policy.
  • 2. A Faculty Executive Dean is responsible for:
        • a. Ensuring that faculty planning and review processes are conducted by appropriate staff in accordance with the strategic planning framework;
        • b. Ensuring that other faculty committees are in place and operating as required to contribute to the review processes set out in sections 6 and 7;
        • c. Overseeing curriculum reviews in accordance with the procedures set out in section 7; and
        • d. Reporting the outcomes of reviews of faculty and academic unit performance against the Faculty Plan and the University Strategic Plan to the Faculty Advisory Committee (where established).

Committees

  • 3. The Academic Senate and the University Council have general oversight of the strategic planning and academic review processes.
  • 4. The roles of other Faculty committees are set out, as appropriate, in the procedures for academic unit and curriculum reviews in sections 6 and 7 respectively.

9 Version Control and Change History

Version Control

Date Effective

Approved By

Amendment

1

1 January 2009

University Council

First Version

2

5 February 2009

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic)

Migrated to UOW Policy Template as per Policy Directory Refresh

3

13 July 2009

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic)

Minor amendments to:

    - rename the Curriculum Review and Development Committee to become the External Curriculum Appraisal Committee

    - rename the Curriculum Review Group to Faculty Curriculum Review Group

    - correct references to the Course Approval Guidelines and include reference to Curriculum Review Guidelines

    - correction of DVC(A&I) to DVC(A)

    - other minor typographical changes

4

11 June 2010

University Council

Amendments to section 8.4, 8.25 and 8.35 consequential upon enactment of the Standard on Courses

5

4 March 2011

N/A

Updated references from Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Operations) to Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor

6

19 Dec 2012

Vice-Principal (Administration)

Updated references from DVC(A) to DVC(E).

7

7 June 2013

University Council

Update by removing all reference to the Faculty Advisory Committee (now an optional committee managed under the Faculty Academic Governance Policy) and to renumber all sections accordingly.

8

9 October 2015

University Council

Consequential amendments arising as a result of the new Course Policy.

Amend section 1(3) to read “Related procedures for the conduct of course and academic unit reviews are set out in the Course Review Procedures…”

Delete definitions of “Major Course Proposal” and “Minor Course Proposal” from section 2.

Amend section 4(1)(b)(ii) to read “the course (section 8).”

Delete section 7 and in its place insert: “Course Reviews and consequential changes to courses shall be conducted in accordance with the Course Policy and related procedures.”

9

4 Dec 2015

University Council

Consequential amendment to remove reference to the rescinded Graduate Qualities Policy.

10

12 Jan 2016

Vice-Chancellor

Minor amendments to realign policy provisions to senior executive and governance structures.

Remove references to the Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor, University Planning and Quality Committee and Course Approval Management Group.

Amendment to Section 6 ‘Monitoring and Review Framework’.

Update references to Deans to refer to Executive Deans.

Update faculty academic review provisions to align with updated strategic planning process.

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