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Section 1 - Overview
(1) The purpose of this Rule is to describe the University of New England's integrated approach to assuring the quality of its Higher Degree Research (HDR) training across the entire research training enterprise, encompassing systematic monitoring, cyclic review and implementation of improvements. It is the overall framework within which best possible quality research training outcomes for HDR students are pursued and maintained.
(2) The Rule is based upon a culture of continuous improvement based on the four-stage quality cycle of Plan, Act, Evaluate, and Improve, and is consistent with the University's Academic Quality Management Policy.
Section 2 - Scope
(3) This Rule applies to all University Representatives and organisational units that deliver, or contribute to the delivery of high-quality research training at higher degree level.
Section 3 - Rule
(4) The University will offer HDR training that:
- contributes to the strategic research goals and objectives of the University
- meets the principles and criteria specified in the Australian Qualifications Framework and other regulatory requirements
- provides high-quality research training to candidates
- promotes a collaborative and professional research culture committed to excellence
Framework for Assuring Quality of Research Training
(5) Evaluation of the University's research training activities occurs through a number of monitoring and review processes:
- Confirmation of Candidature: every HDR student must undergo confirmation of candidature after six months of full-time equivalent candidature to allow the supervisors and confirmation chair to identify any support or guidance necessary for the candidate to proceed to full candidature; assess progress to date and the academic preparedness of the candidate; provide an opportunity for the candidate to demonstrate their writing and other necessary research skills; and allow the candidate and their supervisory team to plan for a successful and timely completion.
- HDR Progress Reporting: occurs every six months and is undertaken by all HDR candidates to provide the opportunity for the candidate and their supervisors to critically reflect on the progress in the candidate's research during the past six months; consider intended research directions for the next six months and identify any issues regarding progress or resourcing. Each progress report is considered by the candidate, their supervisors and their Head of School, and is tracked by Research Services. The aggregated results of HDR Progress Reporting are reported to the Graduate Research Subcommittee, which has oversight of the progress reporting process.
- Supervisor Accreditation Training: in order to ensure quality supervision is available to HDR candidates, the University provides Supervisor Accreditation Training.
- HDR Program Review: is conducted to ensure that all HDR programs are systematically evaluated through internal monitoring and, where necessary, revision, internal and external reviews at least every seven (7) years based on available benchmarks in terms of admission criteria, students' progress and completion, structure, alignment of learning objectives to learning outcomes and assessment in the context of the University's graduate attributes, currency of the curriculum, changes to the discipline, quality of the supervision, student support, student perceptions, physical and electronic resources and infrastructure and feedback from relevant professional, accreditation and employer groups. This process is overseen by the Graduate Research Subcommittee, in its capacity as the course advisory committee for HDR programs.
- Where areas for improvement are identified from the monitoring, these should be reported to the Graduate Research Subcommittee with an implementation plan which includes a final report when issues are resolved.
- Academic Governance: a summary of the yearly monitoring of all HDR programs, and of the internal and external reviews of HDR programs, is provided to Academic Board annually.
- The Pro Vice Chancellor (Research) is responsible for ensuring that this Rule is implemented effectively and consistently for all HDR programs across all relevant academic and professional areas.
(6) The Graduate Research Subcommittee maintains a review cycle for all HDR Rules, policies and procedures. This provides the opportunity for periodic review to ensure policy material is appropriate and sustainable, and to ensure that UNE maintains a quality research environment for research training:
- Policy review is continual and entails extensive consultation with relevant stakeholders across the University and affiliated organisations.
- Where necessary specialist working parties can be established to undertake targeted analysis or benchmarking.
Authority and Compliance
(7) The Vice-Chancellor, pursuant to Section 29 of the University of New England Act, makes this Rule.
(8) University Representatives and Students must observe it in relation to University matters.
(9) The Rule Administrator is authorised to make procedures and guidelines for the operation of this Rule. The procedures and guidelines must be compatible with the provisions of this Rule.
(10) This Rule operates as and from the Effective Date.
(11) Previous policy on Research Training Quality Management and related documents are replaced and have no further operation from the Effective Date of this new Rule.
(12) Notwithstanding the other provisions of this Rule, the Vice Chancellor may approve an exception to this Rule where the Vice Chancellor determines the application of the Rule would otherwise lead to an unfair, unreasonable or absurd outcome. Approvals by the Vice-Chancellor under this clause must be documented in writing and must state the reason for the exception.
Section 4 - Definitions
(13) Effective Date is the date on which this procedure will take effect.
(14) Rule Administrator is the Vice-Chancellor or Delegate.
(15) University Representative means a University employee (casual, fixed term and permanent) contractor, agent, appointee, UNE Council member, adjunct, visiting academic and any other person engaged by the University to undertake some activity for on behalf of the University. It includes corporations and other bodies falling into one or more of these categories
(16) UNE Act means the University of New England Act 1993 No 68 (NSW).