In developing this policy the University had regard to the provisions of section 40B(1)(b) of the Human Rights Act 2004 (ACT).
Course Quality Framework
The University of Canberra (UC) has always been active in ensuring the quality of its curriculum and teaching, with the aim of ensuring that these courses and units are relevant and provide a valuable student experience. These quality activities have been defined through the University of Canberra Quality and Standards Framework (2010), policy, practice and reporting cycles. External quality audits, especially by the former Australia University Quality Agency (AUQA) (completed in 2007) also provided quality oversight.
Changes in the strategic direction and external environment of the University have necessitated a wide-ranging review of its policies and activities. The UC Strategic Plan Distinctive by Design includes steps for growth in student numbers by re-positioning the university with enhanced partnerships and flexible learning. A new UC Quality and Standards Framework has been approved.
Current, revised and new course and unit quality activities are consolidated into this Course Quality Framework to provide a coordinated approach to quality activities and reporting. The Framework also provides details on the timing and responsibilities of these activities, as well as clarity around the reporting requirements.
The Framework focuses on:
aligning courses with the strategic priorities and distinctive identity of UC, in particular around flexible learning, educational partnerships, and professional education.
ensuring courses are built on relevant and up-to-date curriculum and content.
providing a high-quality learning experience for students that employs best-practice teaching and learning methods and relevant learning technologies.
producing career-ready graduates with the appropriate skills for professional employment in their field that meet the University of Canberra Graduate Attributes.
meeting relevant national standards.
The UC Course Quality Framework
The Course Quality Framework is an essential component of the UC Quality and Standards Framework.
In summary, the Framework consists of the following components:
Course development, through the new course development workshops and approval process.
Course monitoring on an annual (or less) basis through:
In-teaching monitoring of teaching activity and student perceptions of quality and learning engagement.
‘Flagging’ by central services of significant positive or negative variations in course and unit data for annual faculty considerations and reporting.
Benchmarking of some unit material and assessments.
Faculty review of unit satisfaction data and grade distributions.
Industry and professional input through Dean’s Advisory Group meeting(s) and/or Course Advisory Group meetings.
Annual Course Reports (ACR), noting actions taken and discussing course and unit data and other quality activities, reported to Academic Board through UEC.
Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic) (DVC(A)) Advisory Group meeting.
University Course Quality Portfolio submitted to Academic Board.
Course Review on a greater than yearly cycle, being:
Course Closure through relevant procedures.
The University’s approach to course quality enhancement and assurance is guided by the following principles:
Courses are aligned with the strategic priorities and distinctive identity of UC, in particular around flexible learning, educational partnerships, and professional education.
Courses and associated learning resources are built on relevant and current curriculum and content.
Courses are designed in consultation with external experts from industry/professions and academia, and are consistent with the University’s approach to external benchmarking.
Courses are sustainable in terms of demand, delivery cost, and faculty workforce and business models.
Units and courses provide a high-quality learning experience for students that employ best-practice teaching and learning methods and relevant learning technologies.
Produce career-ready graduates with the appropriate skills for professional employment in their field that meet the University of Canberra graduate attributes, or are equipped for further study in the discipline.
Provide students with the opportunity for work-integrated learning and international study experiences, and globally connected learning opportunities through technologies.
Units and courses meet relevant national standards in the sector (e.g. TEQSA, AQF) or for specific disciplines (e.g. accreditation requirements of professional bodies).
Where appropriate courses are tailored to the particular needs of third party providers and markets for delivery arrangements, while remaining consistent in educational quality and having equivalence with the courses delivered from Canberra.
The Framework aims to:
Enhance the reputation of the University in relation to the quality and integrity of its degrees and courses.
Ensure the university can have confidence in the quality of its courses.
Coordinate quality activities and provide details on the timing of these activities.
Ensure a coordinated reporting structure that provides necessary information to UC Committees without overburdening the faculties with reporting requirements.
Ensure unit conveners, course conveners and faculty executives are aware of their responsibilities to ensure practice is widespread throughout the University for all quality activities.
The reporting elements within this framework are broadly based on the following sequence:
Information/reports are provided to faculties, from central services, external sources or by other means.
Faculties initiate action on the basis of information/reports provided.
Faculties report to universities committees on the actions to be taken, rationale for non-action and future plans with timelines for implementations.
University committees review the quality and comprehensiveness of Faculty processes and actions through these reports.
University committees ensure action plans are completed.
University committees review faculty reports for common issues across the University to inform changes to policy and practice in the University.
The Course Quality Framework incorporates the principles of the following two quality models.
1: The Plan–Implement–Evaluate–Improve (PIEI) model, consistent with the UC Quality and Standards Framework.
2: The Framework also reflects the lifecycle of courses at UC:
The new course development process (defined in the New Course Development Policy and New Course Development Procedure), creates a collaborative process of course development which supports the strategic objectives of the University in creating more innovative courses. The process aims to increase quality assurance in the development of courses, and involves central business units working with faculties to design innovative courses that are closely aligned to industry and professional needs.
The collaboration works to produce high quality, high demand courses which will focus on strategic priorities, areas of strength, market, industry, professional and community needs; be academically coherent and integrated, enabling students to progress from undergraduate to doctoral study and into related areas of study where possible; and be financially viable.
The new course development process has a two-stage approach. The first stage is Market Viability and Concept Development. This initial stage creates a workshop and developmental method to not only support faculties in the design of new courses, but also test market requirements. Stage one allows for educational designers to give design advice to faculty staff, whilst marketing determine where the course may need to create key selling points to be a point of interest to differ from others in the market, or determine where there is a marketing gap that faculties can work towards filling.
The second stage of the process presents a rationale for the course to a wider group of staff from across the University, who will meet to ensure that the needs of the students and the course can be met by any requirements for learning resources, technologies or other needs. Financial viability and student load planning will also be considered at this stage.
The whole course development process provides central support for faculties to allow them access to expertise from across the University to ensure that innovative and successful courses are created that can be fully supported by resources across business units. It also allows for quality assurance of course creation by determining market need, latest technologies and teaching practices by discipline (where required) and in have a collaborative approach to consider course quality. The Course Manager in Academic Quality and Development facilitates the process. Faculties should contact the Course Manager as soon as a course concept is being considered; the Course Manager will arrange any meetings or workshops and contact other staff on behalf of the faculty.
Course monitoring occurs on no less than an annual basis and is designed to identify and address issues with quality and student experience in a timely factor. It is comprised of:
In-teaching monitoring of teaching activity and student perceptions of quality and learning engagement, including unit-level Learner Analytics reports.
Central flagging of positive and negative changes to survey and quantitative data above a threshold for faculty action.
Benchmarking of assessment tasks, unit materials including learning outcomes, and assessment criteria.
End of teaching period Faculty Review of student satisfaction data and grade distributions.
Meetings of Dean’s Advisory Group(s) and/or Course Advisory Groups consisting of industry and professional experts to advise on course quality.
Annual reporting by Faculties on course and unit quality activities to University Education Committee (UEC) (Annual Course Report), including external benchmarking activities.
DVC(A) Advisory Group consisting of industry and professional experts to advise on course quality.
Annual reporting by UEC on course and unit quality activities to Academic Board (University Course Quality Portfolio).
In-teaching monitoring provides timely feedback to staff from various sources of teaching activity and student perceptions of quality and learning engagement. A variety of processes will be developed, trialled and tested to capture and provide the appropriate feedback to staff. Teaching and Learning will provide reports on significant movements, of any measure, positive or negative, to appropriate staff for action.
For example, UC uses learner analytics to identify potential at-risk students. Reports are prepared by Teaching and Learning and forwarded to faculties, summarising analytics results by unit for the faculty. Faculty executive members discuss significant trends at unit level with unit conveners, identifying issues for action or good practice for distribution to other teachers.
Faculties include discussion of the positive and negative changes identified through this regular monitoring and the actions taken in the Annual Course Report (see timing in Appendix 1).
Flagging of data changes
Changes in various quantitative measures of course and unit teaching quality are ‘flagged’ to the faculty in a timely fashion. The faculty then take actions based on these ‘flags,’ whether addressing identified issues or disseminating good practice.
On a rolling basis throughout the year, Strategy, Planning and Performance provides a report to faculties on any positive or negative changes above a certain threshold to course and unit data (survey or other quantitative measures), within two weeks of the data being generated (or as soon as practical). This data may include survey and satisfaction data, and quantitative data such as admissions and UAC preferences, retention, progression and grade distributions.
The changes may include trend changes over time as well as changes in a particular survey/data report.
A list of flags and actions taken or planned in response to these flags is included in the Annual Course Report (see timing in Appendix 1).
As part of course monitoring in the Course Quality Framework, benchmarking refers to peer review of unit materials, including learning outcomes, assessment tasks, and assessment criteria, with the aim of identifying areas of good practice and areas requiring action. Key principles of benchmarking are self-improvement and ensuring comparability with other institutions. This includes the review of awarded grades on a sampling basis across grade levels. Other benchmarking activities are included in other sections of the framework.
Benchmarking in this context includes internal review of assessment pieces between student cohorts studying in different locations. It also includes post-unit completion external review of assessment and other unit materials i.e. this external review occurs after grades are finalised and will not change the awarded grades for students completing that offering of the unit.
Internal moderation of assessment will be conducted in accordance with contractual obligations between UC and the partner institute, consistent with UC policy.
External review occurs as follows:
Units will be identified for benchmarking. Mostly, these will be final year units.
In January following the offering of the unit, a maximum of five assessment pieces at each grade level will be forwarded to an external reviewer.
The reviewer returns feedback electronically.
The faculty prepares an action plan based on the feedback.
The University uses a software solution that allows the collation of electronic assessment pieces, circulation to reviewers, and collection and reporting on feedback.
The results of benchmarking activities are pre-populated into Annual Course Reports.
The Faculty provides a report to UEC on benchmarking activities through the Annual Course Report (see timing in Appendix 1).
End of teaching period Strategic Review
Grade distributions at unit level are reviewed by Faculty Assessment Boards. Faculty Assessment Board reports include good practices for dissemination and action plans.
The Faculty Executive reviews unit satisfaction survey data, provided by Strategy, Planning and Performance, after the end of each teaching period. The Executive identifies issues for actions, and good practice for dissemination. A report is prepared for the following Faculty Board.
Items for action, good practice and future plans form part of the Annual Course Report.
Annual Course Reports
The Annual Course Report (ACR) is a portfolio of course actions, plans, data and quality activities. It is the reporting mechanism of Faculties to Academic Board (through UEC) on course quality activities.
The ACR for each Faculty is initially produced by Strategy, Planning and Performance in April each year. Elements of the report are pre-populated (as noted below).
Each Faculty completes the ACR and forwards to UEC in June each year. UEC forwards the ACRs, along with any issues or actions at a university level, to Academic Board.
ACRs consist of:
Data set including survey results and quantitative data for each course (such as enrolment, retention, preferences etc.), pre-populated, including comparative data sets for all course delivery locations and delivery methods.
Benchmarking reports for units in each course, pre-populated.
Course and unit flags, pre-populated.
Success stories and actions from flagged items and moderation feedback – what has been done and what is planned.
Analysis of other data for strengths, weaknesses and risks.
Course renewal/revision planned/implemented, including on basis of (e) above.
Report on flexible delivery methods and options for students.
Third Party Provider Reports.
In-teaching monitoring: identified issues and actions taken, good practice identified and actions taken.
Dean’s Advisory/Course Advisory Group report(s).
Summary of Course Reaccreditation processes conducted.
Risks to Course Quality: identified risks and mitigating actions planned.
Actions plan: Actions items not yet complete or implemented, based on quality activities listed above.
Report on last year’s actions, with previous year action plans pre-populated.
Dean’s overview and signature.
Each ACR covers the period from the last submitted ACR.
University Education Committee prepares the University Course Quality Profile for submission and review by Academic Board in September each year.
The Portfolio consists of:
ACRs from each faculty
Summary and common issues from the ACRs.
Action plans to respond to University level issues.
Report on the DVC(A) Advisory Group.
Report on Course Reaccreditation.
Report on any Course Reviews and outcomes.
Risks to Course Quality at a University level.
Report against last year’s action plan.
Course Review Summary
Course review processes are aimed at ensuring the purpose, currency and cohesiveness of course content. There are two types of course review processes:
Course Reaccreditation, occurring every five years.
Course Reviews range from a single question requiring a response, to audits/reviews, to a requirement for early reaccreditation of the course.
They are initiated in response to identified issues. These issues may arise from any of the Course Monitoring activities listed above, Course Reaccreditation, or from other sources.
Course Reviews may be initiated by the DVC(A), a Dean or by UEC. The format and timing of these reviews is determined on a case-by-case basis at the time of initiation.
Outcomes are reported to UEC, and to Academic Board through the University Course Quality Portfolio.
A Course Review may include external input from industry, the professions or academia.
In response to certain issues, the DVC(A) or UEC may require a course to undertake Course Reaccreditation earlier than its nominated accreditation expiry date. The process followed in this case is identical to scheduled Course Reaccreditation.
UC Courses are accredited for a five-year (or lesser) period. In the year prior to the end of their accreditation, the courses go through a reaccreditation process.
Course Reaccreditation focuses on the question of continuing or not continuing the course.
The Course Convener prepares a rationale for continuing the course including:
The Rationale and market demand for the course.
Its alignment with the UC Strategic Plan and faculty operating plans.
The current and projected future state of the industry/profession.
The distinctiveness and key selling point of the course against offerings of other universities.
Combined with this rationale are:
Annual Course Report entries on the course.
Professional Accreditation reports.
Dean’s Advisory Group (and Course Advisory Groups if used) discussions relevant to the course.
Course Mapping, which covers:
Mapping of course learning outcomes to AQF specifications.
Mapping of course learning outcomes to graduate attributes.
Mapping of unit learning outcomes showing development of course learning outcomes through the course.
Mapping of unit learning outcomes showing development of graduate attributes throughout the course.
Benchmarking of course content, learning outcomes, units and unit learning outcomes (not otherwise covered in the Annual Course Report).
Adequacy of resources to deliver the course. Faculty board approves the submission.
The Dean forwards the Course Reaccreditation submission to an outside academic expert in the field, and asks for a report on the quality, currency and cohesiveness of the course.
The reaccreditation submission and expert report are forwarded to UEC.
University Education Committee will review these documents and make a recommendation to Academic Board. The Board then decides to reaccredit or not, for five years or less, and with or without conditions.
Academic Board approves course closures. When closing a course the faculty must first present the rationale for closure to the Faculty Board, who must endorse the closure. Course closures can occur in two stages. The first is when the faculty closes the course to new admissions and continues with the course in a teach-out mode. The second is formal closure of the course, which removes it from the Academic Program. For courses that were closed to new admissions, if the course is not reopened after two academic years, the course would move into the formal closure stage.
Any closures to courses must consider the impact on students and protect their interest and the reputation of the University. Any course closure proposals must have a full and effective teach-out plan or transition plan. For courses with international enrolments an alternative set of courses that can be offered to students must be presented as part of the transition plan. The University has obligations under the Education Services for Overseas Students (ESOS) Act 2000. Faculties must seek advice from the International Compliance Office and the Admissions Office before initiating closure of a course.
Faculties must control and monitor the extent and rate of course closures. Details required for course closure from faculties include the rationale for closure, consultation process, teach-out arrangements and expected duration, course components to be closed as part of the course closure and impact on other University courses, and any Memoranda of Agreement or articulation arrangement/s for the course. Course closure proposals must be submitted to the Course Manager in Academic Quality and Development.
That the university:
Accept the Course Quality Framework as presented;
Request that the Portfolio of the DVC(A), in consultation with Faculties and other support units; devise an staged implementation plan of the Framework elements, including preparing for consideration any policy changes required;
Request faculty boards include a standing item of course quality on their agendas for each meeting;
Task Teaching and Learning with developing a system to report changes to student responses to appropriate staff;
Task Strategy, Planning and Performance with developing a system of ‘flags’ to report to Faculties positive and negative changes in quantitative variables above a certain threshold;
Implement the revised Annual Course Report format described in this Framework, as the reporting methodology to Academic Board on course quality activities;
Institute Dean’s Advisory Groups and the DVC(A) Advisory Group, noting that changes to the Course Advisory Group policy will be needed;
Institute a Course Review process, initiated by the DVC(A), a Dean or UEC, as outlined; and
Revise the Course Reaccreditation process as outlined in the Framework.
Dean and DVCA responsibilities
The Dean of a faculty is ultimately responsible for the delivery and content quality of courses offered by that faculty.
The Dean takes responsibility for the quality processes outlined in this Framework, and for the forwarding of reports to UC committees as required.
Deans also have particular responsibility for the financial viability of courses offered by their faculty.
DVCA responsibilities under this framework include:
Ensuring appropriate faculty processes are followed.
Overseeing UC-wide initiatives relating to education.
Taking action in the broader University interest.
Reporting to Academic Board.
Specific responsibilities of the Dean and DVC(A) under this Framework are listed below.
Dean’s Advisory Group and Course Advisory Groups
The Dean’s Advisory Group is a mechanism for obtaining external industry and professional input into the quality of courses. The Dean’s Advisory Group consists of the Faculty Executive (i.e. typically not course conveners, as described below) and a small number of industry and professional representatives per discipline in the faculty. The Dean may prefer one meeting covering all disciplines, or discipline specific meetings. The Group’s role is to provide supportive and critical advice to the Dean on the quality of courses in the faculty from an industry and/or professional perspective. The final composition of the group is up to the Dean, however, it maybe important that the Dean has the opportunity to hear advice from industry experts without course conveners present.
The Dean’s Advisory Group also develops relationships between industry and the University. This may lead to particular items of concern being raised by industry outside of group meetings with the Dean.
Course Advisory Groups (CAG) continue to be an option for the Dean in gathering external industry and professional input. Covering a single course or group of courses, CAGs are a more focused group usually consisting of external representatives, faculty executive, course and/or unit conveners, and possibly students. Course Advisory Groups may be needed for professional accreditation. They can be used alongside of Dean’s Advisory Groups.
Groups meet at least once between May and April.
The faculty prepares a report on meetings of the group(s) covering: membership and meeting dates, issues and strengths, and action plans. This report is part of the Annual Course Report submitted to UEC in June each year.
DVC(A) Advisory Group
Similar to the Dean’s Advisory Group, the DVC(A) Advisory Group consists of the DVC(A) and industry/professional representatives covering the courses of the four faculties. These representatives may be drawn from the Dean’s Advisory Groups.
The Group’s role is to provide supportive and critical advice to the DVC(A) on the quality of courses in the University from an industry/professional perspective. The Group may meet together or on a faculty basis.
The Group also develops relationships between industry and the DVC(A), and may provide advice between sessions and/or act as an expert advisory panel.
The Group meets at least once per year, prior to June each year.
The DVC(A) prepares a report on meetings of the group covering: membership and meeting dates, issues and strengths, and action plans. This report is part of the University Course Quality Profile submitted to Academic Board in September each year.
Teaching and Learning
Provide appropriate staff with reports on movements in student responses as they are identified.
Learner analytics reports completed and forwarded to Faculties.
Strategy, Planning and Performance
Flagging data changes above a pre-determined threshold to Faculties.
Associate Deans (Education)
Responding to student responses and learner analytics reports.
Responding to data flagging reports.
With the faculty executive, prepare the Annual Course Report and forward to faculty board.
Member of the Dean’s Advisory Group.
Quality of courses in their faculty, quality processes, and financial viability of courses.
With faculty executive, reviews unit satisfaction data after the end of each teaching period.
Decide on the mix of groups used for external industry and professional input; arrange and convene the Dean’s Advisory Group meeting(s) if used.
Ensure assessment moderation occurs.
Receive reports from faculty assessment boards.
Receive reports from faculty executive on unit satisfaction surveys.
Approve the Annual Course Report and forward to UEC.
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic)
Oversight of UC wide initiatives.
Taking action in the broader university interest.
Arrange, convene and report on DVC(A)’s Advisory Group meeting.
Initiate and report on Course Reviews
University Education Committee
Review Faculty Annual Course Reports.
Prepares University Course Quality Portfolio and submits to Academic Board.
Provides advice to Academic Board on course accreditation, revisions and closures.
Initiate and report on Course Reviews.
Accredits, revises and closes courses.
Reviews University Course Quality Portfolio.
The UC Course Quality Framework is related to a number of other processes:
Vice Chancellor Group (VCG) faculty visits, which include viability reviews.
Monitoring and support of at-risk students through Learner Analytics.
Scholarship statement that ensures all staff teaching in UC Courses (including TPP staff) are engaged with current knowledge in their discipline.
Monitoring of staff qualifications relative to the level at which they teach by faculties and Human Resources.
Early feedback being provided to students from an early assessment or related task, as a student support and retention strategy.
Appendix 1 – Timetable for UC Course Quality Framework
Course Reviews initiated as required and reported to UEC.
Central reporting to faculties on changes in student reactions.
Strategy, Planning and Performance providing faculties with ‘flags’ of positive or negative changes.
Faculties initiate action in response to flagged items (within one week of report).
External benchmarking of previous offerings of identified units
Weeks 2, 5, 8 and 12 of semesters 1 and 2
Central reports to Faculties on Learner Analytics.
Prior to April
Meeting of the Dean’s Advisory Group(s) and/or Course Advisory Groups.
Faculty prepares a report on the Group meeting(s).
Strategy, Planning and Performance circulates partly pre-populated Annual Course Reports.
End of each teaching period
External review of a sample of assessment pieces.
Review of Grade Distributions by Faculty Assessment Board before release of grades.
Review by Faculty Executive of student satisfaction data.
Faculty Board meeting immediately after end of teaching period
Report by Faculty Assessment Board to Faculty Board.
Report by Faculty Executive on student satisfaction to Faculty Board.
Prior to June
Meeting of the DVC(A) Advisory Group, as one group or on a faculty basis.
DVC(A) prepares a report to UEC on the outcomes of Advisory Group meeting.
Annual Course Report:
Faculty reporting of actions related to in-teaching monitoring
Faculty lists actions initiated in response to flagged items.
Faculty lists benchmarking activities
Faculty reporting of items for action and good practice
Faculty reporting of the Dean’s Advisory Group meeting
Faculty reporting on reaccreditation processes conducted in the previous year.
University Course Quality Portfolio:
UEC forwards ACRs, along with university level issues and actions, to Academic Board
UEC reporting of the DVC(A) Group meeting to Academic Board
UEC reporting of the course quality activities to Academic Board
UEC reporting of Course Reviews to Academic Board.
Year prior to expiry
of course accreditation
Course Convener prepares a Course Reaccreditation submission.
Faculty Board reviews the submission.
Dean forwards the submission to an outside academic expert for review.
UEC reviews submission and expert report and makes a recommendation to Academic Board.
Academic Board resolves to reaccredit the course or otherwise.
Faculty reporting on reaccreditation processes conducted in the previous year reported to UEC.
Outcomes included in Annual Course Report in June.