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External Quality Assurance Evaluations

Group of Eight Quality Verification System (Go8 QVS)

In the context of the changing higher-education regulatory environment, which will be proportionate and risk-based, the Go8 Vice-Chancellors have agreed to introduce "a process of external, discipline-led, academic peer review of final year undergraduate student outcomes, in each program or majors of large programs, at all levels of achievement across Go8 institutions".

The Go8 QVS is to provide public assurance and confidence that learning outcomes are comparable across grades and in line with world leading universities. The primary focus of the QVS is to assist Go8 universities in maintaining and improving their academic standards.

The key features of the Go8 QVS include:

  • a focus on assessment in a sample of final year subjects in undergraduate programs;
  • benchmarking for comparing grades awarded in similar programs across Go8 universities;
  • senior discipline-specific academics will conduct the review and will have an understanding of academic standards in similar universities around the world; and
  • flexibility to complement other quality assurance mechanisms within Go8 universities.

More information is contained in the Guidelines or view a presentation by the Go8.

  • Go8 QVS in 2015

    In May 2015, the Go8 DVCAs agreed that the QVS needed to review more fields more often to be effective, and proposed expanding it to cover 10 fields each year. This proved administratively difficult to implement and no fields were selected to be reviewed during 2015.

  • Go8 QVS in 2014

    The fields chosen for review in 2014 were Political Science, Geology and Sociology. The University of Adelaide participated in reviews for:

    • Political Science
    • Geology
    • English (deferred from 2013).

    QVS review outcomes are reported annually to the Quality Enhancement Committee (QEC) as part of the University's commitment to quality assurance processes.

    QVS Outcomes at the University of Adelaide

    View project outcomes data. (UA staff only)

    The reviewers agreed with the grades awarded in the Geology courses and in one of the English courses. The second English course attracted some differences of opinion, as did the Politics capstone course. Positive comments were made about appropriate learning objectives and concise and manageable policy materials.

  • Go8 QVS in 2013

    The continuing success of the process has resulted in the QVS no longer being designated a 'pilot' by the Go8 Secretariat. In 2013, the fields chosen for review were Mathematics, Mandarin and English.

    The University of Adelaide participated in 2013 reviews for:

    • Mathematics
    • Mandarin

    In addition, the Group of Eight Engineering Deans and Associates confirmed in 2013 that they would participate in the QVS process established for the Go8.
    The University participated in the following Engineering reviews for a sample of the 2012 final year student projects:

    • Electrical and Electronic
    • Telecommunications
    • Software
    • Mining
    • Petroleum

    QVS review outcomes are reported annually to the Quality Enhancement Committee (QEC) as part of the University's commitment to quality assurance processes.

    QVS Outcomes at the University of Adelaide

    View project outcomes data. (UA staff only)

    Although the mathematics reviewer considered some marks to be too high, he did not make any negative comments about Adelaide's materials or processes. Similarly, while some marks in Engineering were considered too high, positive comments were made about Adelaide's course materials and processes.

  • Go8 QVS in 2012

    The viability and effectiveness of the Go8 QVS project was demonstrated through the 2011 pilot and as a result the Go8 determined to continue the process in 2012. It was resolved at the meeting of the Go8 Academic Policy Committee held 6 March that the fields be expanded this year to include: Physics, History, Psychology, Accounting, Chemistry, Economics and Philosophy. The following fields at the University participated this year:

    • Accounting
    • Chemistry
    • Economics
    • Philosophy
    • Psychology

    QVS Outcomes at the University of Adelaide

    View project outcomes data. (UA staff only)

    In 2012, there was agreement with the marks awarded in the Accounting, Chemistry, Economics and Philosophy courses reviewed. There was some difference of opinion for the Psychology courses, attributed by the reviewer to the use of different markers.

  • Go8 QVS 2011 Pilot

    The Go8 QVS was piloted in 2011, during which each Go8 university participated in the review of two or more of the following fields of education during semester 1: Physics, History, Psychology, Accounting and Chemistry. The table below shows 2011 reviews by university and field of education.

    Table 1.  QVS reviews by university and field of education, 2011 pilot

    UWA Monash Melbourne Adelaide ANU Sydney UQ UNSW
    Physics Physics Physics Physics Physics      
    History   History History History History History History
    Psychology         Psychology    
    Accounting Accounting Accounting     Accounting Accounting Accounting
              Chemistry Chemistry  

    The fields reviewed in 2011 at the University of Adelaide (UA) were History (2 courses) and Physics. A stratified random sample of 5% of student assessment for each of these courses was verified by reviewers at another Go8.

    The 2011 pilot found that academic standards were comparable across Go8 universities.  An analysis of the fit between grades actually awarded and grades deemed appropriate by reviewers found a close match, with relatively few assessment items being marked above or below the levels that reviewers deemed appropriate.

    Regarding the effectiveness of the QVS at monitoring and maintaining standards, reviewers' comments were mostly positive, though several noted that it would be premature to make an informed, final judgement at this early stage in the project's life.

    Among the features of the QVS identified as the 'best aspects' of the project by reviewers were:

    • its basic administrative properties (flexibility – including choice of units etc for review, and timing and scope; the 'openness' of the process; limited administrative burden; small sample of work to examine; efficient use of electronic forms);
    • its reliance on academic expertise and judgement; and – most importantly –
    • its contribution to reflection and discussion on teaching and learning practice.

    QVS Outcomes at the University of Adelaide

    View project outcomes data. (UA staff only)

    In 2011, there was agreement with the grades awarded for Physics and one of the History courses reviewed. The other History course reviewed attracted some difference of opinion, mainly where the reviewer believed the grades awarded for research essays was too high. It should be noted that History courses at the University are designated as advanced level (level 2 or 3) and a course might therefore be undertaken by a majority of second year rather than final year students.


For additional information on the Go8 QVS at the University of Adelaide please email:

The Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU) Strategic Management Programme


The Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU) Strategic Management Programme (previously the ACU University Management Benchmarking Programme) started in 1995/6 to provide a mechanism for participants to compare their key management processes with those of other institutions. The aim is to help participants to identify areas of strength and weakness within the management process of their own university and to provide a mechanism for capturing best management practices as they develop world-wide.

The program is based on process benchmarking, which is distinguished from statistical (or quantitative) benchmarking. Process benchmarking looks at the processes by which results are achieved rather doing a comparison of conventional performance indicators. The program aims to provide a mechanism for assessing continuing performance, the effectiveness of any new initiatives and relative aspects of improvement in performance.

Every year three process areas are evaluated. Participants can chose to evaluate all topics or just the one they feel most relevant to them. The programme involves carrying out an initial institutional self-review process, using frameworks prepared by the ACU team and the specialist assessors (the latter are appointed for their international expertise in each area under review).

After each institution's self-assessment report has been submitted to the ACU team and reviewed by the specialist assessors, a workshop is held for all participants. The workshops provide the opportunity for further discussion and sharing of best practice of the topics.

As part of the University's commitment to quality assurance processes, participation outcomes from the ACU Strategic Management Programme for the University are reported annually to the Quality Enhancement Committee (QEC).

  • 2015

    Evaluation topics

    • Managing in a political context
    • Financial management
    • IT governance


    In 2015, the Director, Learning and Quality Support presented at the Workshop on good practice in managing in a political context.

  • 2014

    Evaluation topics

    • Ethical governance
    • Quality management
    • Student support


    In 2014, the Director, Learning and Quality Support presented at the Workshop on the incorporation of learning outcomes into quality assessments.

  • 2013

    Evaluation topics

    • Strategic management
    • Estates and facilities (University did not participate in this topic)
    • Commercialisation


    In 2013, the Managing Director, ARI Pty Ltd presented at the Workshop on how the University's commercialisation effectiveness is measured and what our most effective commercialisation strategies are.


For additional information please email:

Veterinary Science External Quality Assurance

The Australasian Veterinary Boards Council accredits veterinary programs in Australia and New Zealand on the advice of the Veterinary Schools Accreditation Advisory Committee (VSAAC). An external, quality assurance process is not mandated by VSAAC. The use of external examiners, however, is considered to be good practice and both the School and VSAAC consider the process a way to demonstrate the outcome of the veterinary program curriculum and teaching methodologies.

The School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences at the University initiated external feedback in 2013 on the quality of its veterinary science graduates and its teaching program by inviting experienced, senior clinical academics from other Australian schools of veterinary science to participate in the viva voce examination of the first cohort of graduating students of the University's Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program. The external examiners were accompanied by internal examiners from the School and the process was moderated by the recently retired South Australian Chief Veterinary Officer. The visit of the external examiners coincided with the 2013 accreditation visit by VSAAC.

The view of the visiting team from VSAAC and the external examiners is that the graduating class has broad veterinary knowledge, and a wide range of professional day 1 competencies as expected for graduating veterinarians. The external examiners also considered that the oral examination revealed some gaps in the current teaching curriculum, but they felt that this was not uncommon, particularly for a new School, and would be addressed during the normal course of curriculum development. In addition, the external examiners noted the relative inexperience of some of the internal examiners in conducting oral examinations, and provided recommendations on how to ameliorate this for the future.

The School is responding positively to the recommendations that were made after the VSAAC visit in 2013 and implementation is proceeding.


For further information please contact the Head, School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences.



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