AcAdemic QuAlity AssurAnce - Universities New Zealand - Te Pōkai ...
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AcAdemic QuAlity AssurAnce - Universities New Zealand - Te Pōkai ...

AcademicQuality Assuranceof New Zealand UniversitiesA Joint Publication ofUniversities New ZealandTe Pōkai Tara & The New ZealandUniversities Academic Audit UnitJuly 20111

Background« The 1990 amendment of the Education Act(1989) changed the educational landscape inNew Zealand. It abolished the University GrantsCommittee and defined the New Zealand Vice-Chancellors’ Committee (now operating asUniversities NZ) as the statutory body with primaryresponsibility for quality assurance matters in theuniversity sector, including the authority to exercisepowers with regard to compliance, approval andaccreditation. Following these changes, UniversitiesNZ delegated responsibility for approval andaccreditation functions to CUAP, powers that arethe responsibility of the New Zealand QualificationsAuthority (NZQA) elsewhere in the tertiary sector.At the same time, several other countrieswere beginning to establish procedures forthe management of standards and quality inuniversities. The International Network for QualityAssurance Agencies in Higher Education (INQAAHE)was established in 1991 with the objective ofdeveloping and promoting good practices in themaintenance and improvement of quality in highereducation.In May 1992, and with an eye to internationaldevelopments in quality assurance, the NewZealand Vice-Chancellors’ Committee made acollective decision that all universities would besubject to academic audit. The NZUAAU wasestablished in 1993 and the first audits wereconducted in 1995. »3

Key principlesQuality assurance activities areunderpinned by nine principles:1. Developed by the universitiesCUAP and the NZUAAU were established by theuniversities and operate with their full support.Their functions and operating procedures areregularly reviewed.2. Evidence-basedUniversities are required to provide evidence ofhow their activities and processes meet theirstated standards and objectives. Evidence isexamined and assessed by peers throughoutthe quality assurance process.3. Enhancement-ledQuality assurance is focused on theidentification of goals and standards, andthe charting of progress towards them. TheNZUAAU underpins this process by revisitingprevious audit recommendations and byfacilitating the sharing of good practice in NewZealand universities and abroad.4. Founded on self-reviewAcademic quality is ultimately the responsibilityof each university. CUAP’s moderationprocesses and the NZUAAU’s audit cycles beginwith self-review. CUAP and the NZUAAU areregularly evaluated by independent panelsin audit processes that also begin with selfreview.4

5. Assured by peer reviewNational and international peer review is acritical element of teaching and researchwithin a university, and is a fundamentalcomponent of the quality assurance system.CUAP uses peer review to evaluate proposalsfrom the universities and to moderate recentlyintroduced programmes. NZUAAU audits areconducted by a panel of auditors comprisingpeers who are national and internationalexperts.6. Collective and collegialCUAP and the NZUAAU function with thecooperation of all New Zealand universities andthe engagement and expertise of individualsrepresenting key stakeholders such as students,industry and other members of the universities’communities.7. Individually bindingAll universities are subject to the requirements,and bound by the decisions, of the qualityassurance system.8. Internationally endorsedInternational auditors are a feature of everyNZUAAU audit panel, and CUAP and NZUAAUprocedures are informed by professionalrelationships with similar international agencies.The New Zealand universities’ quality assurancesystem is consistent with internationalguidelines for good practice and its qualityassurance processes are regularly held up as anexemplar for other countries.9. Independently operatedCUAP (through Universities NZ) and theNZUAAU are independently funded bythe universities. The NZUAAU operatesautonomously with a separate board, staffand independently appointed auditors.5

Committee onUniversity AcademicProgrammes (CUAP)« CUAP considers academic mattersincluding inter-university course approvaland moderation procedures, advice andcomment on academic developments,encouragement of the coherent andbalanced development of curriculaand the facilitation of cross-creditingbetween qualifications.CUAP developed out of the Curriculum Committeeof the disestablished University Grants Committee,and has the delegated authority of Universities NZfor academic approval and accreditation functions.CUAP comprises a representative of each universityand is chaired by a Vice-Chancellor. Its membershipincludes a student representative.CUAP is the body to which universities must submitany proposals to offer new qualifications or tomake substantial changes to existing qualifications.Proposals must meet official criteria which areset by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority(NZQA). These criteria apply to all qualificationsoffered by tertiary education providers and are setafter consulting with Universities NZ and others inthe tertiary sector. The criteria address the followingitems:• Title, aims, learning outcomes and coherence;• Delivery and learning methods;• Assessment;• Acceptability of the course;• Regulations;6

• Resources;• Evaluation and review; and• Provision of research facilities and support ofstaff involved in research (a requirement fordegree and related qualifications).The Committee uses a peer review process toevaluate proposals from the universities, whichrange from new qualifications and subjects tochanged entry requirements and altered subjectnames. A proposal has to proceed throughvarious deliberative bodies in a university beforeit reaches CUAP, where it is subjected to peerreview. CUAP receives proposals, initiates the peerreview process, makes any necessary changesand approves proposals in two annual rounds.Those proposals which at least one university isunable to support are discussed by the Committee.While the outcome is often favourable, there areoccasions when the Committee requires somechanges or declines the proposal. The Committee’sdecisions are reported to Universities NZ. Since1990, CUAP has approved over 1,100 new universityqualifications and noted the deletion of over 400.Once a university qualification has beenapproved by CUAP it is listed on the New ZealandQualifications Framework (NZQF) and is eligible forfunding from the Tertiary Education Commission(TEC). Universities apply for funding by submittingdetails of the new qualification to the TEC. TheNZQF is a publicly available, comprehensive list ofall quality assured qualifications in New Zealand.CUAP operates a moderation process as afollow-up to the initial approval of qualifications.Universities are required to conduct formal reviewsof all new programmes within three years of thegraduation of the first cohort of students. Thesereviews involve an appointed convener and atleast one panel member from another disciplinaryarea. CUAP considers the review and where7

the committee has serious concerns about aprogramme, it has the power to order changes,seek a second report, require a further review orwithdraw approval.In New Zealand, the university entrance standardis set by NZQA. CUAP’s Sub-Committee onUniversity Entrance was established to coordinateadvice from universities to NZQA with respect toa common standard of entrance to universities.The sub-committee also provides informationon the administration of discretionary entrance,coordinates the evaluation of overseasqualifications presented for the purposes ofadmission, evaluates university foundationprogrammes offered by non-university providersin New Zealand, offers policy advice on mattersrelated to the secondary-tertiary interface, andensures university staff are appropriately involvedin curriculum development and examination in thesenior secondary school.CUAP was audited in 1996, 1999 and 2005. Afurther audit is planned for 2011. »8

New ZealandUniversities AcademicAudit Unit (NZUAAU)« The NZUAAU is an independent bodywhose purpose is to contribute to theadvancement of university education by:• Engaging as a leader and advocate in thedevelopment of academic quality;• Applying quality assurance and qualityenhancement processes that assist universitiesin improving student engagement, academicexperience and learning outcomes.The NZUAAU aims to support universities inachieving standards of excellence in researchand teaching. It does so, primarily, by conductinginstitutional audits. It also identifies anddisseminates information on good practice indeveloping and maintaining quality in highereducation and convenes an annual meeting onquality enhancement in the sector.The NZUAAU governing Board is appointedby Universities NZ and includes nominations fromthe Vice-Chancellors, the Tertiary Education Union,students and persons drawn from professionaland employer bodies and the wider community.The NZUAAU is operationally independentof Universities NZ.Academic audits are carried out by panels ofauditors who are trained by the NZUAAU andappointed from the NZUAAU’s Register ofAuditors. Each panel includes an overseas externalauditor. Auditors are selected from universities’senior academic staff and other stakeholders orpeople with knowledge of academic auditing andevaluation. An audit begins with a process of self-9

eview, creating an audit portfolio that the universityuses to evaluate its progress towards achieving thegoals and objectives related to the focus of theaudit. The audit panel verifies the portfolio throughinterviews and site visits. Final audit reports, whichare publicly available, commend good practiceand make recommendations intended to assistthe university in its own programme of continuousimprovement. Progress on the recommendationsis submitted to the NZUAAU Board in a followupreport 12 months later. A report on progressin implementing the recommendations of theprevious audit also forms part of the self-reviewprocess in the next audit round.There have been four cycles of audit since theNZUAAU was established:• Cycle 1: 1995-1998 – whole of institution;• Cycle 2: 2000-2001 – research, and a themechosen by the institution;• Cycle 3: 2002-2007 – teaching and learning;• Cycle 4: 2008-2012 – whole of institution.The NZUAAU maintains professional relationshipswith all quality assurance bodies working intertiary education in New Zealand, and withsimilar agencies internationally. It is a full memberof INQAAHE and follows its guidelines in qualityassurance conduct.The NZUAAU is subject to regular independentreview by a panel of national and internationalexperts. It was last reviewed in 2009, and beforethat in 2001 and 1998. »10

Quality withinthe Universities« The quality assurance activities ofCUAP and the NZUAAU do not occurin a vacuum.Universities’ systems for monitoring and enhancingquality in their teaching and learning, research andadministrative activities, and facilities, are ongoingand subject to regular internal and external reviewincluding:• Internal programme approval and review processes;• Departmental reviews;• Student course and programme evaluations;• The use of external examiners;• Regular review and comparison of course andprogramme data (such as grades, pass rates, andcompletion rates);• Student surveys;• Staff performance reviews;• Professional diploma and degreeaccreditation reviews;• Engagement with professional, employer,statutory and regulatory bodies; and• Research funding bodies.Assessment of universities’ research performanceis carried out by the TEC via the Performance-Based Research Fund quality evaluations. Thesehave taken place in 2003 and 2006, and the nextround is planned for 2012. Universities have regularinteractions with government agencies includingfinancial management monitoring undertaken bythe Ministry of Education and the TEC. Qualityassurance in the sector is aided by Ako Aotearoa– The National Centre for Tertiary TeachingExcellence, which advises on good teachingpractice and activities which facilitate excellentstudent learning. 11

More information about universities’ qualitysystems, policies and processes can be foundon the websites of the individual universities. »Links for more information:Universities New ZealandTe Pōkai TaraIncludes links to the websites of New Zealand’seight universities on University Academic Programmes(CUAP) Includes the CUAP handbook “Committeeon University Academic Programmes: Functionsand Procedures” Zealand Universities Academic Audit Unit(NZUAAU) Includes published audit reports, detailsof upcoming audits, and links to good Network for Quality AssuranceAgencies in Higher Education (INQAAHE)Includes the INQAAHE Guidelines of Good Practicein Quality Assurance www.inqaahe.orgNew Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA)www.nzqa.govt.nzNew Zealand Qualifications Framework (NZQF)Comprehensive list of all quality assuredqualifications in New Zealand www.nzqf.govt.nzTertiary Education Commission (TEC)www.tec.govt.nzPerformance-Based Research Fund (PBRF) PŌKAI TARAUNIVERSITIESNEW ZEALAND

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