Program Accreditation Procedure

Procedure overview

1 Purpose

To outline the process to approve and Accredit or Re-accredit an Academic Program, including making changes to an existing Accredited Academic Program.

2 Scope

This procedure applies to all Award and Non-Award Programs offered by the University.

3 Procedure Overview

This procedure outlines the processes to Accredit or Re-Accredit Academic Programs at the University. This includes changes to existing Accredited Academic Programs.

4 Procedures

4.1 Academic Program Accreditation

  1. There are three broad types of Academic Program Accreditation, each with different documentation and approval requirements:
    1. Program Accreditation or Re-Accreditation
    2. Changes to an existing Accredited Academic Program.
    3. Discontinuation or suspension of an Academic Program.
  2. All Academic Programs are designed and developed consistent with:
    1. the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) and associated guidelines and principles.
    2. the Higher Education Standards Framework (Threshold Standards) 2015 (HESF), as regulated by the Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency (TEQSA).
    3. any relevant standard for external recognition, registration or accreditation of the proposed program or for potential Graduates.
  3. Academic Program Accreditation is undertaken via the Online Accreditation Portal.

4.2 Program Accreditation and Re-Accreditation

  1. A program Accreditation or Re-Accreditation may involve one or more of the following changes:
    1. the introduction of a new program not currently offered by the University
    2. the introduction of a new Major/discipline into an existing program
    3. the arrangement of existing University Courses to form a new program of study
    4. the merging of existing standalone programs to create a larger program
    5. an Accreditation of an existing Accredited program due to change or as part of the University's five year review cycle, or due to a significant program change.
  2. Schools and colleges should plan and progress all proposed program Accreditations and Re-Accreditations so that sufficient time is allowed for informed consideration of, and decision-making based on, the merit and Academic Integrity of the proposed program Accreditation or Re-Accreditation, their associated resources and other implications.
  3. The Academic Board Secretariat establishes timelines annually, covering two calendar years, in consultation with relevant parties, to ensure timely progression of proposals through program Accreditation or Re-Accreditation.
  4. All new Academic Program Accreditations, and any Academic Program Re-accreditations that impact the School/College or Faculty resources, must be approved by the Vice-Chancellor, normally on the recommendation of the Vice-Chancellor's Executive. Approval is provided for the Concept Brief, and for the first part (e.g. the Business Case) of the Program Proposal, via the Online Accreditation Portal.
  5. In exceptional circumstances, a working group consisting of the Faculty Executive Dean, in consultation with the Chair, Academic Board and the Chair, Academic Program Committee, and other relevant staff as appropriate, may expedite the Committee approval process and recommend approval of an Academic Program to the Vice-Chancellor. Any such Decisions will be reported to the Academic Program Committee and Academic Board. Proposals approved in this way will continue to be reviewed through the committee process to assure quality and consistency.
  6. Where professional accreditation of a Course is required for Graduates to be eligible to practise, the Course is accredited and continues to be accredited by the relevant professional body. Professional Accreditation of Academic Programs is managed by the relevant School/s or College/s, with final approval to submit to the Accreditation body provided by the Executive Dean or the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Education), whoever is responsible for the program.
  7. Programs subject to Professional Accreditation may be reviewed using the documentation of the Accreditation body, providing the requirements of the University's program Accreditation process are addressed in line with the Australian Qualifications Framework and the Higher Education Standards Framework.
  8. The Office for the Advancement of Learning and Teaching will, in consultation with the relevant Program Director and other key stakeholders, undertake a gap analysis to compare the requirements (including documentation) of the professional association to the University Accreditation process. Any additional University requirements will be met via supplementary documentation, which may vary according to an Academic Program. The recommendations of the gap analysis will be approved by the Chair, Academic Program Committee. For more Information refer to the Professional Accreditation Schedule.
  9. Nested Academic Programs will be Accredited or Re-accredited together.
  10. To initiate a program Accreditation or Re-Accreditation, the Head of School or College in which the program will be managed will nominate a Program Director (and where appropriate a Program Development Team) who will develop and submit a concept brief, via the Online Accreditation Portal. For further Information refer to the Program Development Team Schedule.
  11. The concept brief provides a short overview of the Accreditation or Re-Accreditation being proposed. Preparation of the concept brief will include consultation with key University stakeholders, including Student representatives, relevant academic, learning and teaching, institution and/or faculty level administration, marketing, international, finance, and Student support areas.
  12. The concept brief requires the endorsement of:
    1. the School/College Learning, Teaching and Student Success Committee
    2. the Faculty Academic Program Committee
    3. where appropriate, the Graduate Research School Committee.
  13. Once endorsed, the concept brief requires approval by the following:
    1. the Head of School or College
    2. the Faculty Executive Dean or Pro Vice-Chancellor (Education), whoever is responsible for the program, in consultation with the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic).
    3. and where appropriate the Vice Chancellor's Executive (see point 4 in this section).
  14. On receipt of the appropriate approval, the Program Development Team will develop and submit a program proposal, via the Online Accreditation Portal. The program proposal provides a comprehensive overview of the Accreditation or Re-Accreditation being proposed.
  15. The Program Development Team develops the program proposal ensuring that consultations are held with all relevant parties such as
    1. current Students and alumni with direct experience relevant to the development of the program;
    2. stakeholders with a legitimate interest in the proposed program, including other schools and service areas of the University, potential employers, professional and registration bodies, and the relevant advisory committee;
    3. stakeholders for whom there may be resource, legal or administrative implications with the proposed program, including those related to international, ICT, library and/or marketing;
    4. other appropriate sources with expertise relevant to development of the Program, including learning and teaching, Student services, careers and employability.
  16. When complete, the program proposal requires the endorsement of:
    1. the School/College Learning, Teaching and Student Success Committee
    2. where appropriate, the Graduate Research School Committee
    3. the Head of School or College
    4. the Faculty Academic Program Committee
    5. the Executive Dean, or the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Education), whoever is responsible for the program, in consultation with the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic).
    6. the Academic Board (via Academic Program Committee)
  17. Once endorsed the Academic Board recommends the approval of the Program Proposal by the Vice-Chancellor.
  18. Once the Academic Program is approved, Accreditation of the Academic Program will be established for a period of five years from program commencement, unless otherwise advised by the Academic Board. The relevant details will be entered in the Online Accreditation Portal, and submitted to the Academic Board for noting.
  19. All Academic Programs should be reviewed and re-accredited at least once every five years and must be completed every seven years. An application can be made by the Executive Dean to the Chair, Academic Program Committee for approval to extend the date for accreditation. Normally, an extension of up to 12 months may be granted. The written request should outline:
    1. the reasons for requesting an extension;
    2. the consequences if the extension is not granted; and
    3. the anticipated revised accreditation timeline.
  20. Following appropriate approvals, the Faculty is responsible for completing the Implementation Plan via the Online Accreditation Portal, and ensuring the appropriate changes to University webpages are made, and for informing relevant parties (internally and externally) of the implementation of the approved changes to the program.

4.3 Changes to an Existing Accredited Academic Program

  1. Changes to an existing Accredited Academic Program may involve one or more of the following:
    1. changes to individual Courses
    2. changes to the Course and program design and delivery
    3. changes that impact Students only within the program/Courses managed by the originating faculty.
    4. changes that impact Students beyond the program/Courses managed by the originating faculty; and/or
    5. where there are changes to the school, college and/or faculty finances or resources to offer the program.
    6. changes to the Learning Outcomes as stated in the program objectives that require substantial revision
    7. changes to Admissions requirements.
  2. To initiate a change to an existing Accredited Academic Program the Program Director will complete the relevant sections of a concept brief, via the Online Accreditation Portal.
  3. The concept brief provides a short overview of the change being proposed. Preparation of the concept brief will include consultation with key University stakeholders, including Student representatives, relevant academic, learning and teaching, institution and/or faculty level administration, marketing, finance, and Student support areas.
  4. On receipt of the appropriate approval for the concept brief (see dot point 7 in this section), the Program Director will complete the relevant sections of a program proposal, via the Online Accreditation Portal.
  5. The program proposal provides a complete overview of the change being proposed. Preparation of the program proposal will include consultation with key stakeholders including relevant Student representatives, academic, learning and teaching, institution and/or faculty level administration, marketing, international, finance, careers and employability, library and Student support areas.
  6. When complete, the program proposal require approval at the appropriate level (see dot point 7 in this section).
  7. Depending on the nature of the change proposed, a Program Development Team may be established. This team is established by the Head of School or College in which the program is managed. For further Information refer to the Program Development Team Schedule.
  8. The approval required for changes to an existing Accredited Academic Program is determined by the impact of the proposed change, and must adhere to the Approval to Change Accredited Academic Programs Table below. The level of approval applies to both the concept brief and the program proposal. This approval process ensures that the University has the opportunity to Assess risk, respond to changing resource requirements, and implement change in a timely manner.
  9. Editorial changes are corrections of a typographical nature and other simple errors in Course Specifications. Editorial changes are approved by the Head of School or College outside the committee process.
  10. A record of approved changes will be recorded in the Online Accreditation Portal and a report provided to the Executive Dean/Pro Vice-Chancellor (Education) at least once each year. Executive Deans and the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Education) will provide a record of all approved changes made to the Academic Board via the Academic Program Committee.
  11. Following appropriate approvals, the Faculty is responsible for responsible for completing the Implementation Plan via the Online Accreditation Portal, and ensuring the appropriate changes to University webpages are made, and for informing relevant parties (internally and externally) of the implementation of the approved changes to the program.

Approval to Change Accredited Academic Programs Table

School/College Learning, Teaching and Student Success Committee

Can endorse and recommend approval of changes to the Head of School or College including:

  • changes to individual Courses that have no impact on Learning Outcomes as stated in the program objectives, and which can be addressed within the existing school or college finances and resources.
  • Where appropriate, the Graduate Research School Academic Committee will also be consulted where there are research implications to proposed changes.

Changes at this level are approved by the Head of School or College.

Faculty Academic Program Committee

Can endorse and recommend approval of changes to the Executive Dean to an accredited Academic Program that include:

  • changes to the program and Course design and delivery that have minimal impact on the Learning Outcomes as stated in the program objectives.
  • changes that impact on Students only within the program/Courses managed by the originating faculty.
  • changes that impact on Students beyond the program/Courses managed by the originating faculty; and/or
  • where there are changes to the school, college and/or faculty finances or resources to offer the program.

Changes at this level are approved by the Executive Dean.

Academic Board (via Academic Program Committee)

Can endorse and recommend approval of changes to the Vice-Chancellor to an accredited Academic Program that include:

  • changes to the Learning Outcomes as stated in the program objectives that require substantial revision
  • changes to Admissions requirements.

Proposed changes to an existing Accredited Academic Program are submitted to Academic Board (via Academic Program Committee) and require:

  • Endorsement from the Faculty Academic Program Committee,
  • Approval by the Executive Dean in discussion with the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic).

4.4 Discontinuation or Suspension of an Academic Program

  1. The Academic Board endorses and recommends program (including Major or Specialisation) discontinuation to the Vice-Chancellor.
  2. If it is proposed to discontinue a program (including Major or Specialisation) the School or College consults all interested parties and arranges for development of a timeline for the discontinuation from the proposed date from which there will be no new intake up to the proposed date of permanent removal of the program (including Major or Specialisation). The timetable and preliminary plan takes account of:
    1. any associated Courses or study components that are also available in other programs
    2. the date of the most recent intake into the program
    3. the maximum completion time for the program
    4. prior offers of a place in the program that have been made to any International Students (agreed commencement data for Student plus maximum completion)
    5. the obligation of the University to continue to offer the program to a Student who is currently enrolled in the program, or a Student or intending Student relevant to b and c of this list
    6. any associated transition arrangements
    7. the need to provide timely Information to the University community, relevant authorities, e.g. Queensland Tertiary Admissions Centre, and the public concerning discontinuation of the program and any application transition arrangements
    8. University timeframes for progressing proposals for discontinuation.
  3. To initiate a discontinuation or a suspension of an Academic Program, the Head of School or College in which the program is managed will nominate a Program Director who will complete and submit the proposal to discontinue a program, via the Online Accreditation Portal.
  4. When complete, the proposal to discontinue a program requires the endorsement of:
    1. the School/College Learning, Teaching and Student Success Committee
    2. where appropriate, the Graduate Research School Committee
    3. the Head of School or College
    4. the Faculty Academic Program Committee
    5. the Executive Dean, or the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Education), whoever is responsible for the program, in consultation with the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic).
    6. the Academic Board (via Academic Program Committee)
  5. Suspension of intake is a management Decision made by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) that there will be no intake of Students for a particular program, Major or Specialisation in a specified period. A suspension of intake is temporary and may not lead to discontinuation of a program.
  6. If it is proposed that there be a temporary suspension of intake into a program, the Head of School, in consultation with the Executive Dean or Pro Vice-Chancellor (Education) initiates the proposal for approval to suspend intake, via the Online Accreditation portal, and consults all interested parties as soon as possible.
  7. A report of all Decisions approved by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) is noted at the next meeting of the Academic Board's Academic Program Committee.
  8. Following appropriate approvals for either a Discontinuation or a Suspension of intake, the Faculty is responsible for completing the Implementation Plan via the Online Accreditation Portal, and ensuring the appropriate changes to University webpages are made, and for informing relevant parties (internally and externally) of the implementation of the approved discontinuation or suspension to the program.

4.5 Program Bulletin Board

  1. The Program Bulletin Board is an online space used to provide Information on program developments to a diverse range of University Employees with an interest in program development and approval. The aim of the program bulletin board is to:
    1. facilitate Information sharing at each stage of program development;
    2. encourage communication and collaboration;
    3. encourage wider scrutiny and early resolution of cross-faculty issues;
    4. document the progress of proposals through various stages of approval.
  2. Stakeholder consultation is facilitated by faculties posting concept brief and program proposals to the Program Bulletin Board. Faculties are encouraged to make these documents available to the University as soon as possible to encourage internal stakeholder engagement and expedite the process. Divisions should be given 10 working days to respond to a posting. Significant feedback gained through the Program Bulletin Board should be summarised and included in the submissions to the relevant committees (e.g. Faculty Academic Program Committee, Academic Board Academic Program Committee).

4.6 Record keeping

The relevant Faculty will be responsible for ensuring complete and accurate recording of all material related to Academic Program Accreditation in accordance with University Policy and Regulatory Compliance Obligations.

4.7 Reporting

A summary report of all Program Accreditation and Changes to an Accredited Academic Program is to be generated by the Online Portal and provided to the Vice-Chancellor's Executive, for noting at least annually.

5 References

Nil.

6 Schedules

This procedure must be read in conjunction with its subordinate schedules as provided in the table below.

7 Procedure Information

Subordinate Schedules

Accreditation Case Schedule

Accreditation of Programs Offered by Other Institutions Schedule

Course Naming and Numbering Schedule

English Language Proficiency Requirements Schedule

Graduate Certificate and Graduate Diploma Standard Schedule

Professional Accreditation Schedule

Program Development Team Schedule

Program Nomenclature Schedule

Protocol for Jointly Badged Awards Schedule

Standard Admissions Statements Schedule

Accountable Officer

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic)

Responsible Officer

Pro Vice-Chancellor (Education)

Policy Type

University Procedure

Approved Date

28/6/2019

Effective Date

29/7/2019

Review Date

29/7/2022

Relevant Legislation

Australian Qualifications Framework

Higher Education Standards Framework (Threshold Standards) 2015

Related Policies

Academic Programs and Courses Policy

Admissions Policy

Quality Management Framework

Risk Management Policy and Procedure

Related Procedures

Admissions Procedure

Assessment Procedure

Related forms, publications and websites

Online Accreditation Portal

Flowchart - Program Accreditation or Reaccreditation

Flowchart - Change to Existing Accredited Academic Program

Flowchart - Discontinuation of an Academic Program

Flowchart - Suspension of an Academic Program

Definitions

Terms defined in the Definitions Dictionary

Academic Integrity

The pursuit of scholarly activity in an open, honest and responsible manner. Academic Integrity includes a commitment not to engage in or tolerate acts of falsification, misrepresentation or deception. Such acts of dishonesty violate the fundamental ethical principles of the University community and compromise the worth of work completed by others....moreThe pursuit of scholarly activity in an open, honest and responsible manner. Academic Integrity includes a commitment not to engage in or tolerate acts of falsification, misrepresentation or deception. Such acts of dishonesty violate the fundamental ethical principles of the University community and compromise the worth of work completed by others.

Academic Program

An approved Higher Education Award of the University, consisting of a combination of Courses the successful completion of an offering of which, together with any credit transfers and Exemptions in accordance with the relevant requirements, will fulfil the prescribed requirements for that particular Award....moreAn approved Higher Education Award of the University, consisting of a combination of Courses the successful completion of an offering of which, together with any credit transfers and Exemptions in accordance with the relevant requirements, will fulfil the prescribed requirements for that particular Award.

Assess

The process used to determine Student's achievement of expected Learning Outcomes and may include a range of written and oral methods and practice or demonstration....moreThe process used to determine Student's achievement of expected Learning Outcomes and may include a range of written and oral methods and practice or demonstration.

Award

The qualification conferred upon a Student following the successful completion of an Academic Program. The categories of Award include: Associate Degree, Diploma, Bachelor Degree, Bachelor Honours Degree, Graduate Certificate, Graduate Diploma, Master Degree (both Coursework and research), Doctoral Degree (both Coursework and research) and Higher Doctorate....moreThe qualification conferred upon a Student following the successful completion of an Academic Program. The categories of Award include: Associate Degree, Diploma, Bachelor Degree, Bachelor Honours Degree, Graduate Certificate, Graduate Diploma, Master Degree (both Coursework and research), Doctoral Degree (both Coursework and research) and Higher Doctorate.

Award Program

A sequence of study which leads to an academic qualification granted by the University and conferred by Council....moreA sequence of study which leads to an academic qualification granted by the University and conferred by Council.

Course

The basic unit of study and assessment for which a Student may be awarded a grade, and may accumulate credit units towards completion of a Program....moreThe basic unit of study and assessment for which a Student may be awarded a grade, and may accumulate credit units towards completion of a Program.

Course Specification

A written specification of the objectives, content, assessment methods, and other relevant details of a Course....moreA written specification of the objectives, content, assessment methods, and other relevant details of a Course.

Decision

A determination made by an Employee, contractor or other authorised delegate in the course of their duties on behalf of the University....moreA determination made by an Employee, contractor or other authorised delegate in the course of their duties on behalf of the University.

Executive Dean

For the purposes of these Policies and unless otherwise defined in a specific Policy, the term 'Executive Dean' means the chief executive officer of a Faculty....moreFor the purposes of these Policies and unless otherwise defined in a specific Policy, the term 'Executive Dean' means the chief executive officer of a Faculty.

Graduate

A Student upon whom Council has conferred an Award....moreA Student upon whom Council has conferred an Award.

Information

Any collection of data that is processed, analysed, interpreted, organised, classified or communicated in order to serve a useful purpose, present facts or represent knowledge in any medium or form. This includes presentation in electronic (digital), print, audio, video, image, graphical, cartographic, physical sample, textual or numerical form....moreAny collection of data that is processed, analysed, interpreted, organised, classified or communicated in order to serve a useful purpose, present facts or represent knowledge in any medium or form. This includes presentation in electronic (digital), print, audio, video, image, graphical, cartographic, physical sample, textual or numerical form.

International Student

A Student who is not an Australian citizen, a New Zealand citizen, an Australian Permanent Resident or the holder of an Australian permanent humanitarian visa....moreA Student who is not an Australian citizen, a New Zealand citizen, an Australian Permanent Resident or the holder of an Australian permanent humanitarian visa.

Learning Outcomes

The expression of the set of knowledge, skills and the application of the knowledge and skills a person has acquired and is able to demonstrate as a result of learning....moreThe expression of the set of knowledge, skills and the application of the knowledge and skills a person has acquired and is able to demonstrate as a result of learning.

Major

Refer to Academic Plan....moreRefer to Academic Plan.

Non-Award Program

A sequence of study which does not lead to an Award....moreA sequence of study which does not lead to an Award.

Policy

A high level strategic directive that establishes a principle based approach on a subject. Policy is operationalised through Procedures that give instructions and set out processes to implement a Policy....moreA high level strategic directive that establishes a principle based approach on a subject. Policy is operationalised through Procedures that give instructions and set out processes to implement a Policy.

Regulatory Compliance Obligation

An external obligation provided in Regulatory Compliance Instruments....moreAn external obligation provided in Regulatory Compliance Instruments.

Specialisation

Refer to Academic Plan....moreRefer to Academic Plan.

Student

A person who: has been Admitted or Enrolled in an Academic Program at the University, but has not yet graduated from the program; or has been Enrolled in a Course at the University but has not yet completed the Course....moreA person who: has been Admitted or Enrolled in an Academic Program at the University, but has not yet graduated from the program; or has been Enrolled in a Course at the University but has not yet completed the Course.

University

The term 'University' or 'USQ' means the University of Southern Queensland....moreThe term 'University' or 'USQ' means the University of Southern Queensland.

Vice-Chancellor

The person bearing the title of Vice-Chancellor or as otherwise defined in the University of Southern Queensland Act 1998, including a person acting in that position....moreThe person bearing the title of Vice-Chancellor or as otherwise defined in the University of Southern Queensland Act 1998, including a person acting in that position.

Definitions that relate to this procedure only

Keywords

Program management

Record No

19/694PL

Complying with the law and observing Policy and Procedure is a condition of working and/or studying at the University.

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