- 1 Policy Statement
- 2 Procedures
- 3 Portfolio Plan
- 4 Annual Assessment
- 5 Proposals for New Programs and Significant New Programs
- 6 New Programs
- 7 Significant New Programs
- 8 Accreditation
- 9 Changes to Existing Programs
- 10 Courses
- 11 Mid Term Report
- 12 End of Term Review/Reaccreditation
- 13 Suspension and Discontinuation of a Program
- 14 Other Policy Information
University of Southern Queensland
The Planning, Accreditation and Review Process for Academic Programs
Scope and Application:
The University is committed to enhance the quality and reputation of its academic programs through: (i) stringent standards in the approval and accreditation of its academic programs, (ii) close integration between business and academic planning (iii) regular and rigorous review.
The University considers that robust program and course review and analysis are the cornerstone of achieving this goal.
This policy envisages:
the preparation of a program plan by each Faculty (covering a three year period) and an annual assessment of that plan;
review of programs at the mid-term and end of the accreditation term;
accreditation of programs;
a comprehensive analysis of new programs as well as changes to programs; and
streamlined and effective delegations and paperwork processes.
This policy anticipates that:
each Faculty will manage its portfolio of programs to enable the University to achieve its goals and objectives;
the University Program Management Committee (UPMC) will develop a strategic perspective on the optimum set of portfolios which will enable the University to achieve its goals and objectives and will provide guidance and assistance to Faculties in shaping their portfolios; and
University support services will provide information and services to support UPMC and the Faculties in academic planning, accreditation and review of programs.
To achieve the objectives of this policy in the manner indicated above, the University has established a corporate capability in undertaking comprehensive academic portfolio management. This corporate capability requires substantial contributions from many sections of the University and requires individuals to improve their knowledge of, and increase their contribution to, academic portfolio management. The UPMC has prime responsibility for developing this capability and will use all opportunities to increase personal and corporate capability in regard to academic portfolio management.
The process for the planning, accreditation and review of academic programs can be broken into the following procedures:
Portfolio plan and annual assessment
Proposals for New Programs
Changes to Programs
Suspension and Discontinuation of a Program
Mid-Term Report – Course and Program Review (CPR)
End-of-Term Review - Reaccreditation
Each of these procedures is able to operate discretely, but all represent an integrated package directed towards achieving both improved academic and business rigour. UPMC has a key role in developing and guiding the composition of the University’s portfolio of programs. The shape and mix of the academic portfolio is critical in assisting the University to achieve its strategic goals and objectives.
Each year, UPMC will provide clear guidance to the Faculties regarding the preferred shape and mix of the University’s portfolio of academic programs. As well, UPMC will work with the support areas to establish the criteria for analysing and assessing the business performance of all academic programs at the University. Each Faculty will undertake its own review and develop its own plan for its suite of programs. Each program must be directed towards contributing to the University’s goals, and it is expected that annually each Faculty will review the performance of each of its programs and work towards improving the overall performance of its suite of programs.
As a result of the integrated academic planning accreditation and review process it is expected that the University will improve its:
Suite of Program offerings
Retention, progression and graduation results
Market share of first preferences for the State for Undergraduate
Results in relation to graduate employment and student experience questionnaires
Capability to deliver programs
Abbreviations used in this document:
Academic Board AB
Faculty Portfolio Plan FPP
Operational and Resource Management Plan ORMP
Program and Policy Review Committee PPRC
Research Committee RC
University Program Management Committee UPMC
Each Faculty shall prepare a three-year Faculty Portfolio Plan (FPP) which will form part of the Faculty’s strategic plan under the USQ planning process.
The FPP will set out the strategies and actions across the three-year planning horizon.
The FPP will be updated annually along with the Faculty’s strategic plan.
Actions flowing from the approved FPP will be incorporated into the Faculty’s operational and resource management plan (ORMP).
The Faculty will foreshadow proposals for new programs in the FPP as the initial indication of the Faculty’s intention to alter its academic profile.
Any agreements arising from the USQ planning processes do not preclude the need for all programs to comply with this policy.
As part of the planning and monitoring process, each Faculty shall undertake an annual assessment of all its programs.
The annual assessment will take the form of an “Annual Program Performance Report” (APPR) which will show how each program has performed against target performance measures. These measures include program load and headcount, admissions and enrolment drop rates, retention rates, progression rates and program activity status.
The APPR will include commentary in relation to:
underperforming areas, the reasons for this and intended actions to address underperforming programs
identification of programs due for review in the current year
identification of proposed new programs and how they will contribute to targets
variations on the previous year’s plan, the reasons for the variations and the outcomes.
The APPR shall be completed using data provided by the Sustainable Business Management and Improvement Office and reviewed by UPMC. The completed report will be forwarded to Academic Board and the Vice-Chancellor’s Committee.
Agreed actions arising from the report for the following year will be incorporated into the Faculty’s ORMP.
There are two types of new programs: (1) significant new programs and (2) new programs.
A significant new program may involve one or more of the following characteristics:
a new discipline,
substantial investment or risk, or
a new capability which will involve significant impact on staff, programs or infrastructure.
On the advice of UPMC, the Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor will determine whether a program is a ‘significant new program’.
Proposals for new and significant new programs may be initiated by Faculties, other organisational units including campuses, or by UPMC.
The will indicate how the proposal fits with the FPP and the Faculty’s and University’s strategic directions. It will include, among other things, details of likely demand (enrolments); similar programs offered elsewhere, modes and locations of offerings, and the competitive edge for USQ.
If the is approved by UPMC, it will be forwarded to the Faculty to complete the Business Plan in conjunction with the Faculty Management Accountant. The Business Plan should be returned to UPMC for consideration within 12 months of the approval of the PCA.
Once approved the will provide details of the key financial and resource consequences of the program including investments required, staffing, impacts on campus facilities, and likely revenues and expenses.
In exceptional circumstances where rapid approval of a new program is required, the Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor in consultation with the Chair, Academic Board and Chair, Program and Policy Review Committee or Research Committee as appropriate, may, on request from the Faculty or campus, bypass the Committee approval process and recommend approval of a new program to the Vice-Chancellor. Any such decisions will be reported to UPMC and Academic Board.
Preparation of the proposal will involve consultation with, and a statement from, the Liaison Librarian and, where applicable: non-host Faculties providing courses in the program; ICT Services; Learning, Teaching and Quality; and the Campus Director or Provost.
If UPMC is satisfied with the proposal, it shall forward the new program proposal to the Vice-Chancellor for approval. If the Committee is not satisfied with the program proposal, it shall advise the Faculty.
If the UPMC is satisfied that the proposed new program represents a desirable objective for USQ, it will establish a specific working group including a representative(s) from the sponsoring Faculties to prepare the significant new program proposal.
The significant new program proposal will be submitted to UPMC for a recommendation to the Vice-Chancellor for approval.
Once a new program proposal or a significant new program proposal is approved, the Dean shall establish a program development team consisting of not fewer than five persons, with at least two being drawn from a related industry or professional field or from another university.
At an early stage of deliberation, program development teams should involve consultation with non-host Faculties providing courses in the program.
The accreditation submission is to be written in a complete and concise manner. Only brief course outlines are required and only one course outline will be submitted for each course, irrespective of the place or mode of offering.
The accreditation submission will address the Qualities of a USQ Graduate and must demonstrate consultation with employers and the relevant professions.
The completed accreditation submission will be forwarded to the Secretary, Program and Policy Review Committee or Secretary, Research Committee for formal consideration by the committee.
Following consideration of an accreditation submission, the Program and Policy Review Committee or Research Committee may refer the submission back to the Faculty for consideration of any amendments it considers necessary, prior to making an appropriate recommendation to the Academic Board.
The Academic Board shall consider the recommendations of the Program and Policy Review Committee or Research Committee and make an appropriate recommendation to the Vice- Chancellor on accreditation of the program or major not later than the September meeting of Academic Board where accreditation is sought for the following academic year. If the Vice- Chancellor accepts the recommendation of the Academic Board to accredit the program, the relevant details will be entered in a Program Accreditation Register maintained by the Secretary, Academic Board.
The Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor will approve changes to an existing program that involve a new specialisation, a new major, a new mode of offer, or a new place of offer, where there are no new courses, or where there are fewer than four (4) new courses.
Where changes to an existing program involve four (4) or more new courses, the Faculty will be required to submit a to the UPMC for approval, followed by an accreditation submission to the relevant Committee.
The approval of major changes to a program shall not affect the period of accreditation of the program.
The Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor will report all approvals to the UPMC, and the Dean will report changes to the relevant Academic Board committee.
For all submissions to the Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor, UPMC and PPRC or RC, only brief course outlines are required and only one course outline will be submitted for each course, irrespective of the place or mode of offering.
In all cases, prior to approvals, consultation with relevant University stakeholders is required, including Campus Heads.
New courses may be approved during the program accreditation process.
The Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor will approve new courses proposed for inclusion in existing programs.
The Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor will approve changes where a new course number or funding category is required. All other changes to courses will be approved by the relevant Dean after appropriate consultation with key University stakeholders has occurred.
The discontinuation of a course will be approved by the Dean, with advice to the Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor and any Faculties using that course in their programs. This action requires careful consideration of the impact on students, and appropriate communication with students affected by the decision to discontinue a course.
For all submissions to the Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor, the UPMC and the PPRC and RC, only brief course outlines are required and only one course outline will be submitted for each course, irrespective of the place or mode of offering.
A mid-term review report is not required for programs that are performing satisfactorily according to the Annual Program Performance Reports. The Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor, in consultation with the relevant Dean, will decide whether a program is performing satisfactorily.
The Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor will determine the nature of the mid-term review for programs that have not performed satisfactorily according to the APPR process.
The report will be prepared in accordance with the Course and Program Review.
Completed reports will be forwarded to the Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor for endorsement and advice to the Academic Board.
The normal period of accreditation of a program is seven calendar years.
UPMC will initiate the reaccreditation process no later than the beginning of the year in which the accreditation of a program expires (unless it is proposed that the program be discontinued).
A full review will be prepared in accordance with the Course and Program Review where major changes are proposed for the program or where the program has under-performed in the APPR process. Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor will determine whether the proposed changes to the program are “major” changes and whether the program has not performed satisfactorily according to the APPR process.
A full review will readdress the Qualities of a USQ Graduate and must demonstrate consultation with graduates, employers and the relevant profession. The review will be accompanied by:
an updated Handbook entry if minor or no change proposed,
a full accreditation submission if major change proposed.
The review and accreditation submission will be forwarded to the Secretary, Program and Policy Review Committee or Secretary, Research Committee for formal consideration by the appropriate University committee and advice to the Academic Board.
A Faculty may bring forward the date of the reaccreditation of a program for example to coincide with the timing of the external professional accreditation.
As a consequence of the Portfolio Plan, the Annual Assessment, the mid-term report or end-of-term review, a program may need to be suspended or discontinued. The grounds for suspending or discontinuing a program may include insufficient demand to maintain specified minimum class sizes, changes in Faculty or University objectives, and financial constraints.
A proposal to suspend or discontinue the offering of a program shall require the approval of the Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor.
A proposal to suspend or discontinue a program will involve a student impact statement, disclosure of comprehensive information to all affected parties, including details of the communications’ strategy, arrangements for students during the phasing-out of that program, including timelines for implementation, that are consistent with the lead times necessary for international applicants. In addition, the proposal must address the impact on enrolled students and should aim to maintain quality and integrity of the student experience during the phase-out stage. All modes of delivery shall be assessed when planning to suspend or discontinue a program.
Where a program is to be replaced by a program with equivalent or related outcomes, enrolled students are to be transferred to that new program (“Equivalent Program”). Equivalent Program means a program that has the same/similar objectives and enables the same professional accreditation. The Faculty shall be responsible for coordinating the transfer of the enrolled student’s enrolment to the Equivalent Program.
If no Equivalent Program exists (for example, where professional accreditation cannot be attained through a similar or related program), students will be taught out and this may occur under restricted course offerings and pathways. Teaching out means providing a defined pathway to completion of a program in the specified minimum time. Teach out of an enrolled student is subject to that student making satisfactory progress in all courses.
The Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor will report all approvals to UPMC and PPRC.
Peak Approval Authority:
Program and Policy Committee
University Program Management Committee
Related Legislation / guidelines:
Strategic Plan/Goal & Objectives:
Supporting documents, forms:
Associated USQ policies:
Next Review Date*:
Expiry Date of Policy: