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Academic Unit Reviews

The review process is an integral part of the University's quality assurance system. Oversight of reviews is the responsibility of the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Student Learning).

Academic Unit, and Other Academic Unit, Reviews are coordinated by staff from Learning and Quality Support who, in partnership with faculty staff throughout the process, provide assistance and advice as required. A summary of the responsibilities of stakeholders during Academic Unit Reviews is available here.

Aims

The broad aims for Unit Reviews are to be established as follows, and are to be reflected in their Terms of Reference.

  • To evaluate the quality and effectiveness of academic strategy, operations and outcomes, including in research, learning and teaching, entrepreneurship and innovation, and external engagement and impact;
  • To assess the school’s standing, nationally and internationally, in relation to appropriate benchmarking;
  • To evaluate the school’s ability to sustain and enhance educational and research operations in the context of the University’s strategic goals, its resources, and internal and external opportunities;
  • To evaluate the quality of school governance, management and enhancement processes, including approaches to working with students as partners and to external engagement;
  • To assess the school’s progress since the previous review, with reference to the outcomes of the implementation plan in response to the recommendations of that review;
  • To identify and give recognition to best practice and successful outcomes;
  • To identify strategic and operational opportunities, and priorities for enhancement, including for research performance and academic portfolio refresh and development;
  • To 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 by Learning and Quality Support in consultation with Executive Deans (or equivalent where appropriate in the case of academic units other than schools) and approved by the PVC(SL). The initial plan is updated thereafter each year for the following seven years. As appropriate, the Executive Dean or University executive management may request a review outside the cycle. However, in line with Professor Robson’s view as noted and endorsed by the Review of Reviews Committee, ad hoc reviews normally should be avoided.

For academic units with accreditation requirements, or that have undergone or will undergo any other form of external review, consideration for minimising duplication of effort will be made.

Details of the current Academic Reviews Schedule.

Terms of Reference

Executive Deans 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 PVC(SL) will approve the final ToR 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 and the PVC(SL). While Review Panels for Unit Reviews are usually composed of five members, comprising of an internal convenor (independent of the school under review and normally from a different faculty), two students, and two external panel members, the PVC(SL) may approve a variation to this in certain circumstances.

Member Comment
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 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.

International panel members can only be included if travel and accommodation costs are met by the Faculty.

Executive Deans will submit a list of prospective panel members for consideration and approval by the PVC(SL).

Review Preparation

Standard reviews of Academic Units focus on the quality and effectiveness of academic strategy in areas of research, learning and teaching, engagement and impact, of the units standing informed by a benchmarked context, enhancement against University strategic goals, governance structure, recognition of best practice, and developments since the last review, and are guided by the Terms of Reference.

An Internal Team appointed by the Executive Dean 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, 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 of 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 debrief 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 PVC(SL) within two weeks of the visit.

Approval

On receipt of the Review Report, the PVC(SL) will provide an opportunity for the relevant Executive Dean(s) to review and respond to the report and its recommendations. Following this consultation, the PVC(SL) 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.

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 PVC(SL) 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 PVC(SL) will provide progress reports on Implementation Plans to the next available meeting of Academic Board as unstarred items in the first instance.

Approved recommendations are available from the Review Reports, Recommendations & Implementation Plans page (Staff only).

Division of Academic and Student Engagement
Address

The University of Adelaide
South Australia 5005
Australia

Street Address

Level 7, Wills Building
North Terrace Campus
THE UNIVERSITY OF ADELAIDE
SA 5005 AUSTRALIA

Contact

T +61 8 8313 5901
F +61 8 8313 8333

dvca@adelaide.edu.au