Academic Unit Reviews

The Academic Unit reviews process is an integral part of the University's quality assurance system. All Academic Units are subject to review as part of a seven year cycle. Oversight of these reviews is the responsibility of the Provost.

Reviews are designed to provide program teams, schools and faculties with:

  • Opportunity for formative self-evaluation and constructive dialogue with key stakeholders including students, employers, alumni and the wider community;
  •  Independent feedback, advice and recommendations in response to self-evaluation and planning, within a benchmarked context and with reference to national and international exemplars, standards and quality assurance frameworks, and relevant institutional data;
  • An evidence-base for strategic and outcomes-focused identification of future prospects and enhancement priorities;
  • Transparent implementation plans for strategic and enhancement initiatives.

Resources for reviews

  • Aim

    The broad aims for unit reviews are:

    • evaluate the quality and effectiveness of academic strategy, operations and outcomes, including research, learning and teaching, entrepreneurship and innovation, and external engagement and impact;
    • assess School’s/Unit’s standing, nationally and internationally, in relation to appropriate benchmarking;
    • evaluate School’s/Unit’s ability to sustain and enhance general operations, and if applicable, educational and research operations in the context of the University’s strategic goals, its resources and internal and external opportunities;
    • evaluate quality of School/Unit governance, management and enhancement processes, including approaches to working with students as partners and to external engagement;
    • assess School’s/Unit’s progress since the previous review, with reference to the outcomes of the implementation plan in response to the recommendations of that review;
    • identify and give recognition to best practice and successful outcomes;
    • identify strategic and operational opportunities, and priorities for enhancement, including for research performance and academic portfolio refresh and development;
    • assist in identifying areas where resources and support might be needed to optimise future performance.
  • Process

    Each academic unit is to be reviewed at least once every seven years.

    A seven-year schedule of reviews is developed in consultation with the Executive Deans (or equivalent where appropriate in the case of academic units other than schools) and approved by the Provost. As appropriate, the Executive Dean or University executive management may request a review outside the cycle.

    The Academic Unit Reviews Process map provides a high level overview of the complete process.

    Reviews in progress

  • Terms of reference

    Executive Deans (or equivalent where appropriate in the case of academic units other than schools) are responsible for a process of consultation with the area(s) under review prior to submitting a draft Terms of Reference (ToR) to Learning and Quality Support.

    While the use of standard Terms of Reference is recommended for both academic units and other academic units, the Executive Dean can provide a modified or alternative version.

    The Provost will approve the final Terms of Reference for the review.

  • Review panel

    The academic unit review is conducted by a Review Panel, which is established with the aim of responding to the self evaluation report.

    After a period of consultation with stakeholders the composition of the Review Panel will be agreed between the relevant Executive Dean (or equivalent where appropriate in the case of academic units other than schools) and the Provost.

    While Review Panels for academic unit reviews are usually composed of five members comprising:

    • an internal convenor (independent of the school/unit under review and normally from a different faculty),
    • two students, and
    • two external panel members,

    the Provost may approve a variation to this in certain circumstances.

    International panel members can only be included if travel and accommodation costs are met by the faculty or academic unit.

    Executive Deans (or equivalent where appropriate in the case of academic units other than schools) will submit a list of prospective panel members for consideration and approval by the Provost.

    Member Area Comments
    Senior academic (Convenor) Internal staff member Professor - Internal Convenor independent of the school under review, and normally from a different faculty.
    Academics Two external appointees Professor - Two external members, at least one of whom is a Professor from the same or similar area under review.
    Students Two students Ordinarily an UG or PGCW student in a program run by the school (currently enrolled, or very recently graduated) and a HDR candidate (or very recent graduate) whose main supervisor is a member of staff in the school under review.

    Other academic unit reviews: ordinarily UG, PGCW or HDR students appointed in consultation with the Unit Head.

    Further details are available in the factsheet Responsibilities of Review Panel Members and Learning and Quality Support Staff.  

  • Review preparation

    An internal team appointed by the Executive Dean (or equivalent where appropriate in the case of academic units other than schools) after consultation with the academic unit, undertakes a self-evaluation process commencing no less than seven months prior to the Review Panel visit.

    The outcome of the process is the preparation of a self evaluation report for submission to the Review Panel one month prior to the Panel visit.

    Guidelines are available on the development of the self evaluation report, and it should be noted that units are permitted to provide additional information considered relevant to the review.

    Invitations to provide submissions to the Review Panel are made to internal and external stakeholders. The faculty/unit, in consultation with Learning and Quality Support, develops a list of relevant stakeholders inclusive of students and representatives from both industry and professional groups. Learning and Quality Support engages stakeholders for invitation of written submissions, and may also invite some of the stakeholders to an interview with the Review Panel.

  • Reporting

    The Review Panel commences drafting the Review Report during the final session of their visit, with a particular focus on developing the recommendations.

    At the conclusion of the visit, the Panel delivers an oral briefing of their recommendations and commendations to review participants and stakeholders.

    Supported by Learning and Quality Support, a draft set of written recommendations is finalised with the Convenor in the week following the Review Panel's visit, with the final Review Report submitted to the Provost within two weeks of the visit.

  • Approval

    On receipt of the Review Report, the Provost will provide an opportunity for the relevant Executive Dean(s) (or equivalent where appropriate in the case of academic units other than schools) to review and respond to the report and its recommendations.

    Following this consultation, the Provost presents the Report to Academic Board. Recommendations requiring discussion of resource matters (eg. staff, financial and physical) will be considered by Vice-Chancellor's Executive in the first instance.

    Academic Board or the Vice-Chancellor's Executive, where appropriate, is responsible for endorsing the final recommendations (to the extent that they fall within its Terms of Reference), and recommending their approval to the Vice-Chancellor and President. Approved recommendations are available from the review recommendations and implementation plan page.

  • Implementation

    Responsibility for the development, execution, and monitoring of Implementation Plans is as follows:

    • For school and other academic unit reviews - responsibility rests with the Executive Dean/Unit Head, with carriage assigned to an Implementation Working Group chaired by the Head of School/Unit. Membership of the Working Group will be approved by the Executive Dean/Unit Head in consultation with staff and stakeholders and include student representation.
    • A finalised Implementation Plan will be provided to Learning and Quality Support within six weeks of Academic Board’s consideration of the Review Report. The Provost will provide the Implementation Plan to the next available meeting of Academic Board.
    • The Executive Dean/Unit Head will submit updates on the progress of the actions described in the Implementation Plan to Learning and Quality Support. These updates will be required after another four months and then a further eight months following the initial implementation plan. The Provost will provide progress reports on Implementation Plans to the next available meeting of Academic Board as unstarred items in the first instance.

    Implementation plans and progress reports are available from the recommendations and implementation plans page.

    For details regarding the process for development, execution and monitoring of implementation plans, please view the process map.