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University Reviews Policy

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Section 1 - Purpose and Context

(1) The University undertakes a range of formal and informal reviews of its academic and business areas, activities and processes.

(2) This policy seeks to:

  1. define the nature, scope, focus, and types of reviews to be undertaken at the University and their relationship to each other;
  2. establish the key operating principles for all reviews; and
  3. make clear key reporting processes and accountabilities for each type of University review.

(3) This policy applies to reviews of:

  1. academic units (e.g. Schools, Research Institutes, University Research Centres) — both their performance and strategic directions;
  2. administrative/support/management units (e.g. Information Technology and Digital Services, Student Administration, the Office of Quality and Performance, Office of Human Resources, Office of the Vice-Chancellor and President, Finance and Resources etc.);
  3. key areas of provision (e.g. fields of study and discipline areas; learning programs, academic processes, research, research student training, university engagement);
  4. key University services and processes (e.g. the policy development and review process; Office of Human Resources processes such as recruitment; the first year experience of students; staff professional development processes etc.).

(4) Professional accreditation applications and renewals are not subject to this policy.

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Section 2 - Definitions

(5) Nil.

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Section 3 - Policy Statement

(6) It is an expectation that all major services, processes and functional areas will be subject to a formal review at least every five years, either separately or as part of a targeted and more comprehensive review.

(7) A formal review of the type covered by this policy has agreed terms of reference, a specified focus and set of evaluation criteria, agreed processes and clear accountabilities for both delivering it and acting upon its agreed recommendations.

(8) The University adopts a 'fitness for purpose' approach to reviews. That is, each review seeks to determine the extent to which the selected aspect of the University's activities is directly, efficiently, consistently and effectively contributing to achievement of the University's mission and key strategic objectives.

(9) Within this overarching framework the key purpose of each review is to:

  1. identify strengths and areas of excellent performance/good practice;
  2. identify weaknesses or gaps and recommendations to address these;
  3. establish, using a range of comparative trend data and performance measures, the quality of the program, service or organisational unit;
  4. provide guidance on what, in the area being reviewed, needs to be retained in its current form, what needs to be improved and what should be deleted.

Part A - Types of Review

(10) The University requires all Schools and Divisions and their respective sub-units to engage in continuous monitoring of their current performance, with assistance from the Office of Quality and Performance if required. These 'embedded', ongoing reviews are undertaken and monitored by the Dean or senior delegate, the relevant Deputy Vice-Chancellor or relevant Director. The focus of these ongoing processes is on continuous tracking and improvement. This process is given oversight by the Senior Executive Group in conjunction with other relevant University committees. The outcomes of 'embedded' reviews provide data for more formal reviews.

(11) Formal University Reviews are commissioned and approved by the Vice-Chancellor and President and have clear, agreed Terms of Reference; a comprehensive scope; an appropriately constituted review panel; generate formally considered recommendations which, once agreed, are binding and monitored for effective implementation by the Senior Executive Group assisted by the Office of Quality and Performance.

(12) It is these more formal reviews that are the primary focus of this policy.

Part B - Timing of Reviews

(13) Reviews can be:

  1. cyclical (e.g. undertaken on a fixed schedule every five years with variation at the discretion of the Vice-Chancellor and President);
  2. formally requested, typically as a result of emerging evidence of risk, the impact of rapidly changing external circumstances etc; or
  3. ongoing (e.g. the University's Annual Course Report and Review System or the semester Unit Report and Review system ).

Part C - Initiation of Reviews

(14) Deans, Directors, University Research Institutes and Deputy Vice-Chancellors will confer with their senior staff on an annual basis to identify the formal reviews for the forth coming three years which they regard, on available evidence, to be timely and strategic and inform the Vice-Chancellor and President (with reasons) of these in their annual performance plans.

Part D - Review Panels

(15) The key roles of the review panel are to review and consider the self-assessment report, stakeholder submissions, and interview key stakeholders, to identify areas of excellence, opportunities and make recommendations on matters of importance.

(16) The decision to use an external or an internal panel or a single, independent reviewer will be made by the Senior Executive Group in conjunction with the member of the University Executive responsible for the review.

(17) The selection of external panel members as determined by the University's Senior Executive Group will focus upon the extent to which each member has demonstrable expertise in the area to be reviewed, access to good practice solutions of benefit to the University, and proven experience in participating productively in such processes.

Part E - Accountability

(18) A designated member of the University Senior Executive Group, or senior delegate, will be responsible for the implementation of each review and selection of members, against the operating principles specified in this policy, along with ensuring that its agreed recommendations are acted upon.

Part F - Outcomes and Reporting

(19) Each review will produce an agreed set of commendations, affirmations and recommendations for consideration by the unit under review.

(20) The Senior Executive member responsible for each review will report the outcomes of the review to the University Executive Committee which will consider the report's recommendations, along with its resource, change management and any industrial relations implications.

(21) A copy of all academic reviews will be forwarded to Academic Senate; a copy of all administrative reviews will be forwarded to the Audit and Risk Committee. Where recommended actions have the potential to affect the employment conditions of staff, the Office of Human Resources will be advised and the relevant industrial processes followed.

(22) The release of these reports, other than a summary, is at the discretion of the Vice-Chancellor and President.

Part G - Action on the Outcomes of Each Review

(23) The relevant member of the Senior Executive Group will be accountable for actioning the agreed recommendations of each review. An action plan will be agreed with the Vice-Chancellor and President with input from the Senior Executive Group and support from the Office of Quality and Performance. In particular:

  1. implementation and evaluation strategies will be integrated into the School's or Unit's strategic planning and action plans;
  2. the relevant member of the Senior Executive Group will be responsible for providing progress reports on implementation of recommendations to the University Executive, Academic Senate (academic matters) or the Audit and Risk Committee (administrative matters) with evidence that the strategies adopted are working effectively and being sustained.

Part H - Support

(24) The Office of Quality and Performance will be the key unit accountable for providing practical advice, guidance and support for all reviews covered by this policy. It will act as the University's (internal) consultancy service for reviews.

Part I - Key Operating Principles

(25) Formal University reviews of both academic or administrative areas will:

  1. be scheduled with sufficient advance notice for sound planning and for those concerned to become actively involved in the process;
  2. involve an initial self-assessment against agreed criteria and indicators;
  3. use existing data whenever possible which is both quantitative and qualitative, as well as time series and benchmarked;
  4. look at both current performance and future positioning;
    1. For example, the self-assessment will include an analysis of:
      1. the data provided annually over the previous five years as part of the 'embedded' processes
      2. a range of strategic intelligence and external data to determine if their current focus and profile will keep them competitive in a rapidly changing external environment.
  5. take into account the outcomes of earlier reviews of the area and related ones;
  6. use all feasible mechanisms to independently verify the review's self-assessment document and identify key areas for follow-up.
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Section 4 - Guidelines

(26) Guidelines for School Reviews

(27) Further information is available on the Reviews web page