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Quality Assurance Procedures for Courses and Units (Coursework)

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Section 1 - Overview

(1) Academic Quality Assurance is fundamental to the Higher Education Standards Framework (Threshold Standards) and a number of the Threshold Standards specifically reference academic quality assurance. Information about these can be found in the TEQSA guidance note: academic quality assurance. Assurance of quality is achieved through Academic Quality Management.

(2) These procedures are for the guidance of the staff of the University of New England in the implementation of the Academic Quality Management Policy.

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Section 2 - Scope

(3) These procedures are to be used for all coursework courses and associated units offered by the University of New England including all partnership arrangements. Procedures for School Reviews and HDR (Higher Degree by Research) courses are separate and are not covered by this document.

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Section 3 - Procedures

UNIT AND COURSE MONITORING

(4) Units are monitored when offered and courses are monitored annually through the unit and course monitoring processes. The aim of monitoring is to determine priority initiatives for enhancement of the unit/course.

(5) Monitoring provides the opportunity to respond promptly to changes in the student profile or disciplinary environment, to both positive and negative student feedback and to make changes which are in line with the University (and School) strategic priorities — which are monitored and updated annually. Monitoring also assists individuals' performance monitoring processes and provides evidence of achievement, which academic staff can use in promotions processes or when applying for teaching and learning awards or grants.

(6) Ensuring that monitoring occurs is the responsibility of:

  1. For units: the Unit Coordinator.
  2. For courses: the Course Coordinator

(7) Unit and course monitoring involves the analysis of key performance indicators such as enrolment, progression, pass rates, grade distribution, completion, admission standards, preferences, attrition, course experience data, graduate survey data, unit evaluations and financial data, intended to build a profile of the ongoing sustainability and quality of the unit or course, and where relevant to ensure improvement.

(8) Unit and course monitoring is based on performance on key performance indicators against agreed standards and using established benchmarking processes.

(9) Oversight of course monitoring is the responsibility of the Provost and Deputy Vice-Chancellor and is managed by the Course Coordinator in conjunction with the relevant Academic Manager/Coordinator.

(10) In circumstances where a unit or course involves significant cross-School teaching load, the coordinator will consult with other Schools involved in the unit or course during the monitoring process.

(11) Each School will provide the Provost and Deputy Vice-Chancellor with a summary of the responses to the monitoring outcomes and proposed action plans as required.

(12) A summary report of the monitoring process will be presented by the Provost and Deputy Vice-Chancellor to Academic Board.

UNIT REVIEWS

(13) Schools will develop a cycle of review of their units that best suits the School's needs. Normally, units will be reviewed on a three-year cycle.

(14) A unit review involves an evaluation and peer review of currency of content and learning outcomes, relevancy for the courses that it relates to, pedagogy and assessment, achievement of learning outcomes, and benchmarking of the curriculum and assessment standards.

(15) Major amendments to a unit would normally occur not more than once every three years. Cases for amendment outside of this cycle may include amendments required as a result of unit monitoring, accreditation requirements, legislative changes, proposed changes to funding cluster, changes to staffing and changes to discipline directions.

COURSE ADVISORY BOARDS

(16) All courses shall have a Course Advisory Board (CAB) which will meet at least once a year. Cognate courses may be considered together under the one board.

(17) The CAB will provide an external perspective for the Course Coordinator(s) and the University. The CAB will consider and comment on the quality of the course, annual course data, issues and priorities for improvement, areas of strong performance and proposed course amendments.

(18) Membership of the CAB should be determined by the Course Coordinator(s) in conjunction with the Head of School, Chairs of the relevant School Teaching and Learning Committees that have input into the course, and the relevant Academic Managers. Membership shall include, but is not limited to:

  1. External representatives who are either community or industry-based depending on the type of course, and
  2. A current student of the course or one of the cognate courses.

COURSE REVIEWS

(19) Overview

  1. A Course Review evaluates the academic program of an award. This evaluation includes the course structure, course learning outcomes and graduate attributes and their assessment and achievement, currency of the curriculum, pedagogy, external benchmarking of the curriculum, changes to the discipline, quality of teaching and learning including assessment, student perceptions and feedback, and feedback from relevant professional, accrediting and employer groups. The achievement of threshold standards, discipline standards and any professional standards should also be considered.
  2. Course Reviews are conducted in conjunction with the appropriate professional accreditation bodies for accredited courses and at least once every seven years for all courses. Double degrees are to be considered as two separate courses for course reviews. For example, for the Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Laws, the Bachelor of Arts (BA) component will be considered with the BA course review and the Bachelor of Laws (LLB) component will be considered with the LLB course review. Combined degrees are considered by the responsible organisational unit in consultation with all relevant Schools.
  3. Oversight of Course Reviews is the responsibility of the Provost and Deputy Vice-Chancellor. Course Reviews are coordinated by staff from the Academic Quality and Analytics Unit on behalf of the Provost and Deputy Vice-Chancellor who provide advice and assistance to Course Coordinators and the relevant School Academic Managers.
  4. A course amendment requiring a major restructure of the course should, under normal circumstances, be preceded by a Course Review. Circumstances where a Course Review is not required include changes to accreditation requirements and government legislative requirements.

Scheduling of Course Reviews

(20) A Course Review schedule will be developed by the Academic Quality and Analytics Unit in consultation with the Chairs of the School Teaching and Learning Committees. Cognate courses may be grouped for the purpose of review, and the timing of external processes for courses with professional accreditation requirements will be taken into account when the schedule is developed.

(21) The schedule will be updated on an annual basis. The schedule will be approved by the Provost and Deputy Vice-Chancellor and reported to Academic Board at the December meeting of the preceding year.

Course Review Panel

(22) Course Reviews are conducted by a Course Review Panel comprising but not necessarily limited to the following:

  1. at least two experienced staff teaching into the course, one of whom shall be the Course Coordinator. Where more than one School delivers content into the course, all Schools involved should be represented. Requests for School representatives should be made through the Chair of the appropriate School Teaching and Learning Committees;
  2. the Academic Manager of the School responsible for the course;
  3. the Chair of the School Teaching and Learning Committee responsible for the course;
  4. a representative from a School unrelated to the School/discipline area of the course under review;
  5. at least one external Course Advisory Board member or representative of an external stakeholder body; and
  6. a student representative, either a student currently enrolled in the course or a recent (last two years) graduate.

(23) A single panel member may fill more than one of the above roles.

(24) The Chair of the Review Panel will be appointed by the Head of School and may not be the Course Coordinator.

(25) The constitution of the Course Review Panel will be approved by the Head of School and noted by the Provost and Deputy Vice-Chancellor.

Terms of Reference

(26) The Course Review Panel will consider and make recommendations on:

  1. the overarching philosophy of the course;
  2. the structure of the course including how the Course Learning Outcomes and Graduate Attributes are being achieved (requires course mapping);
  3. the quality of the teaching and learning including assessment and learning materials (requires student feedback, survey data from units, results of course monitoring and results of unit and assessment benchmarking);
  4. the relevance of the course to the requirements of employers and students (requires feedback from employers, Course Advisory Board and students);
  5. the relationship of the course to the strategic goals of the University; and
  6. future directions for the course.

(27) The Head of School, or the Course Coordinator (with Head of School approval), may include additional Terms of Reference to address issues specific to the course, for example unit action plans, and/or priorities determined by the University's current Strategic Plan.

Review Preparation

(28) The Course Coordinator will prepare an initial submission for the Review prior to the Review Panel meeting, using the Course Review Data Template.

(29) The Course Coordinator is responsible for convening the Course Review Panel. Data collection and the Course Review Template should be made available to Panel members no fewer than ten working days prior to the scheduled date of the Course Review Panel meeting.

Course Review Report

(30) The Chair of the Course Review Panel, in conjunction with the relevant Academic Manager, will prepare the draft report incorporating the recommendations agreed by the Course Review Panel and will circulate this for final approval to the Review Panel within five working days of the meeting. The report should be finalised within ten working days and submitted to the Head of School.

(31) On receipt of the report, the Head of School in conjunction with the Course Coordinator will consider the recommendations and prepare a response to the report. Following this consultation, the Head of School will submit the report and the responses within 15 working days to the Provost and Deputy Vice-Chancellor for approval.

(32) A copy of the final report, the School's response and the initial submission document is to be filed in TRIM by the School.

Implementation and Reporting of Course Reviews

(33) The Course Coordinator, in consultation with the Head of School, is responsible for implementing the agreed recommendations of the Course Review Panel and reporting progress to the Head of School. The Provost and Deputy Vice-Chancellor will request reports on the progress of implementation from the Head of School at six months and twelve months after the initial submission of the Course Review Report.

(34) Course review recommendations shall be implemented and finalised within twelve months of Provost and Deputy Vice-Chancellor approval of the final report.

(35) The Provost and Deputy Vice-Chancellor will present an annual summary of the courses reviewed over the previous year to Academic Board. This summary will include the recommendations from the course reviews and progress on implementation.