Please refer to the University’s Glossary of Terms for policies and procedures.
1. Purpose of procedures
These procedures detail the steps that must be undertaken to approve and accredit a new program for offer at the University of the Sunshine Coast. They must be read in conjunction with the Program Accreditation and Course Approval – Governing Policy. The procedures do not apply to higher degrees by research.
2. Scope of application
- proposals to change an existing accredited program which would result in the assignment of a different Field of Education (FOE) code, and
- proposals to create a double degree, constructed from two existing accredited programs.
3. Timeframes for program development and program accreditation
3.1 Schools should plan and progress all proposed new program developments so that sufficient time is allowed for informed consideration of, and decision-making based on, the merit and academic integrity of proposed new program developments and their associated resource and other implications.
3.2 Academic Secretariat establishes timelines annually covering two calendar years, in consultation with relevant parties, to ensure timely progression of proposals through program accreditation.
3.3 In exceptional circumstances, approval to expedite the accreditation processes may be granted through a minor variation of the procedures, whereby the Chairperson of Academic Board or the Chairperson of the Learning and Teaching Committee (LTC), acts on behalf of the relevant Committee in considering a proposal for accreditation.
3.4 An application can be made by the Executive Dean to the Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor, through Academic Secretariat, for approval to expedite. The written request outlines:
- the reasons for requesting expedition
- the consequences if the expedited process were not followed
- the anticipated accreditation timeline.
3.5 The Chairperson of the relevant committee reports to the ensuing meeting of the committee on any actions taken on the committee’s behalf.
3.6 Faculties, at their discretion and with the approval of the relevant committees, can identify a similar expedited process for their faculty committees.
4. Approval to develop and to offer a new program
4.1 For a new program (other than a new double degree using existing programs), the business case for a new program is the resource and planning component of the program accreditation process.
4.1.1 The Business Case New Program: Resourcing and Planning Information template is completed to provide the case for the proposed new program’s contribution to the University’s strategic direction, financial viability, and all its resourcing requirements.
4.1.2 The Executive Dean endorses the Business Case prior to consideration and comment by the Chief Financial Officer. Following the provision of comments by the Chief Financial Officer, the Executive Dean arranges for the Business Case to be scheduled on the University Executive agenda and provides the relevant documentation to the Secretary, University Executive.
4.1.3 The University Executive considers the Business Case and makes a recommendation to the Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor (as delegate of the Vice-Chancellor and President) who decides whether to approve or not approve the new program for development and for offering.
4.2 Where a new double degree using existing programs is proposed, the Executive Dean investigates the proposed double degree’s contribution to the University’s strategic direction and financial sustainability, and the Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor (as delegate of the Vice- Chancellor and President) must be satisfied that the proposed combination will not compromise the academic integrity of either University program.
4.2.1 The Executive Dean completes a Program Brief (New Double Degree) which is forwarded to the Chief Financial Officer for review and comment and releases a Program Bulletin (New Double Degree) Notification, via the Academic Secretariat, so that the University community has advice on an intention to combine two existing programs.
4.2.2 The Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor (as delegate of the Vice-Chancellor and President) considers the Program Brief (New Double Degree) and decides to approve or not approve the new double degree program for development and for offering.
4.3 The Academic Secretariat liaises with the Office of the Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor and arranges for a copy of the approval documentation to be recorded in the relevant program file in the University’s Records Management System.
4.4 The Executive Dean is responsible for advising, and liaising with, all relevant parties regarding the decision.
5. Program Bulletin for a new program
An outcome of the approval to develop and to offer a new program, as set out in section 4, is the Executive Dean releasing a Program Bulletin (New Program) which is registered with Academic Secretariat for communication to the University community.
6. Program Development
6.1 The Program Development Team develops the proposed program ensuring that:
(a) consultations are held with all relevant parties:
(i) with a legitimate interest in the proposed program, including for example other faculties and service areas of the University, potential employers, professional and registration bodies, and the relevant advisory committee;
(ii) for whom there may be resource, legal or administrative implications with the proposed program, including for example USC International, Information Technology Services, Information Services, Student Services and Engagement, Asset Management Services, and Marketing and External Engagement; and
(b) input is sought from other appropriate sources with expertise relevant to development of the program, for example, academic developers within the Centre for Support and Advancement of Learning and Teaching (C-SALT), and Academic Secretariat for alignment with University policies and procedures and external requirements listed in 6.2;
6.2 The program is designed and developed consistent with –
- the Australian Qualifications Framework and associated guidelines and principles
- the Higher Education Standards Framework
- any standards for external recognition, registration or accreditation of the proposed program or for potential graduates.
6.3 The program is in line with the University’s values and relevant policies procedures and good practice in program design and development, including:
- Learning and Teaching – Academic Policy
- Assessment: Courses and Coursework Programs – Academic Policy
- Equity and Diversity – Governing Policy
- Coursework Programs and Awards – Academic Policy
- Undergraduate Programs and Awards – Procedures
- Postgraduate Programs and Awards - Procedures.
6.4 The Program Development Team documents the proposed new program using templates identified in the next section.
7. Accreditation Documentation
7.1 The Program Development Team (PDT) documents the proposed new program using:
- the Program Proposal template (including Resource Impact Statements); and
- the Program Outline template (including Course Outlines for new courses).
7.2 Program Proposal
The Program Proposal provides information on the academic rationale for the introduction of the program and the design and development process, including the consultation undertaken in support of the proposed program.
7.3 Program Outline
The Program Outline is the detailed description of the proposed new program that is used to assess the academic integrity of that program and forms the basis for provision of information to students, prospective students, the University community and the broader community concerning the program.
7.4 Course Outlines
All proposed new courses to be included in the program are appendices to the Program Outline and are documented using the Course Outline template, except where the program is proposed to be approved subject to further documentation (refer to 7.5).
7.5 Course Synopses
7.5.1 In some circumstances full development and documentation of new courses to be undertaken in the second or subsequent years of offer of a proposed new program may not be possible. In these cases a Course Synopsis can be substituted for the relevant Course Outline when documenting the new program. Consultations should be held with any relevant professional body to confirm the acceptability of this approach for meeting any conditions for external accreditation of the program.
7.5.2 New courses documented only as Course Synopses are provisionally approved by Learning and Teaching Committee on the condition that the course/s must subsequently be fully documented using the Course Outline template. The Course Outline must be approved by the Learning and Teaching Committee, no later than two weeks prior to the opening of enrolments for the teaching period in which the course is to be offered.
7.6 Resource Impact Statements
Resource Impact Statements detail the resource needs and implications of the component courses in the proposed program for provision of support and services by Asset Management Services, the Library and Information Technology Services.
8. Consideration by Faculty Learning and Teaching Committee
8.1 The relevant committee considers the documentation at their respective meetings in line with their terms of reference, and forms a view on whether the proposed program meets the criteria for accreditation.
8.2 The committee considers the academic merit of the proposed program on the basis of the documentation and:
(a) resolves to recommend to the Learning and Teaching Committee that the proposed program as currently documented be approved; or
(b) resolves to recommend that the proposed program as currently documented be approved subject to identified amendments being made to the associated documentation; or
(c) makes such other resolutions as may be appropriate.
8.3 If unqualified approval is recommended, the Committee Secretary refers the documentation and a relevant extract from the Committee’s minutes to the Executive Dean for consideration.
8.4 If approval is recommended subject to amendments being made:
(a) the Program Development Team is advised to make the amendments and submit to the Chairperson of the Committee, the amended documentation together with a written response to the matters identified, including a statement detailing the changes made to the documentation (with page references); and
(b) the Chairperson reviews the amended documentation and if satisfied with the revised documentation, then forwards the amended documents to the Executive Dean.
8.5 Following consideration of the proposal by the FLTC, the relevant accreditation officer completes a template to request from Student Services and Engagement the:
(a) allocation of a Program Code; and
(b) allocation of Course Codes for any new courses.
8.6 The accreditation officer requests Information Management Services Unit to create a new University file for the proposed program and for each new course allocated a code.
8.7 The accreditation officer updates the accreditation documentation and Resource Impact Statements to include program and course codes and file numbers, and then provides a copy to Asset Management Services, the Library and Information Technology Services.
9. Consideration by Executive Dean
9.1 If the Executive Dean decides that accreditation of the new program should be sought, they sign the relevant section of the Proposal and submit the documentation to Academic Secretariat.
9.2 The Executive Dean arranges for a PDF copy of the complete accreditation documentation to be submitted to Academic Secretariat and for the “master” signed set of accreditation documentation to be recorded on the relevant program and course files in the University’s Records Management System.
10. Consideration by Learning and Teaching Committee
10.1 Academic Secretariat checks the accreditation documentation for completeness and clarity, accuracy, internal consistency, compliance and consistency with relevant University and external reference points, and liaises with the relevant faculty so that action and/or amended documentation can be submitted as required.
10.2 The accreditation documentation and a summary sheet of curriculum proposals is added to the agenda of the Learning and Teaching Committee.
10.3 The Chairperson, Learning and Teaching Committee can determine that the accreditation documentation is incomplete or under-developed and delay the consideration of the proposal by the Learning and Teaching Committee until such time as the faculty has responded to the Chairperson’s concerns regarding the quality of the accreditation documentation.
10.4 Learning and Teaching Committee considers the academic merit of the program on the basis of the accreditation and related documentation and:
(a) resolves to recommend to Academic Board that the proposed new program as currently documented be accredited; or
(b) resolves to recommend to Academic Board that the proposed new program as currently documented be accredited, subject to identified amendments being made; or
(c) makes such other resolutions as may be appropriate.
10.5 If unqualified accreditation is recommended, Academic Secretariat refers the accreditation documentation and relevant extract from the Committee’s minutes to the Academic Board for consideration.
10.6 If accreditation is recommended subject to amendments being made:
(a) the relevant parties are advised to make the amendments and resubmit to the Chairperson of the Learning and Teaching Committee, through Academic Secretariat, the amended documentation together with a written response to the matters identified, including a statement detailing the changes made to the documentation (with page references); and
(b) the Chairperson of the Committee reviews the amended documentation then forwards it to the Academic Board through Academic Secretariat. (The Chairperson may raise with the Academic Board any matters related to the amended documentation.)
10.7 Courses and Study Components
10.7.1 Learning and Teaching Committee considers the academic merit of the courses and study components on the basis of the accreditation and related documentation; and
(a) resolves to approve that the proposed new courses and study component as currently documented be approved; or
(b) resolves to approve that the proposed new courses and study component as currently documented be approved subject to identified amendments being made; or
(c) makes such other resolutions as may be appropriate.
10.7.2 If approval is recommended subject to amendments being made:
(a) the relevant faculty is advised to make the amendments and submit to the Chair of the Committee, through Academic Secretariat, the amended documentation together with a written response to the matters identified, including a statement detailing the changes made to the documentation (with page references); and
(b) the Chairperson, Learning and Teaching Committee, reviews the amended documentation and if satisfied that the required amendments have been made attests to this in writing and forwards the attestation to Academic Secretariat.
10.7.3 The Secretary, Learning and Teaching Committee provides written advice to all relevant parties of the outcome of final considerations concerning proposals for new courses and study components approved by the Learning and Teaching Committee.
11. Consideration by Academic Board
11.1 Academic Board considers the accreditation documentation, and:
(a) resolves to accredit the program subject to the standard conditions of accreditation as specified in the parent policy and any other conditions that the Academic Board may impose, confirming when the program will be offered for the first time; or
(b) resolves to accredit the program subject to:
(i) specific amendments being made to the proposed new program and associated documentation to the satisfaction of the Chairperson Academic Board; and
(ii) the standard conditions of accreditation as specified in the parent policy; or
(c) makes such other resolutions as may be appropriate.
11.2 Where accreditation is subject to any required amendments being made:
(a) the relevant parties are advised to make the amendments and resubmit to the Chairperson Academic Board, through Academic Secretariat, the amended documentation together with a covering statement detailing the changes made to the documentation (with page references);
(b) the Chairperson, Academic Board reviews the amended documentation and if satisfied that the required amendments have been made, attests to this in writing and forwards the attestation to Academic Secretariat.
11.3 Academic Secretariat provides written advice to all relevant parties of the outcome of final considerations concerning programs proposed for accreditation considered by Academic Board.
11.4 The faculty staff are responsible for making the appropriate changes to University webpages and informing relevant parties (internally and externally) of the implementation of the approved new program.
12.1 An annual summary report of all programs accredited by Academic Board is to be provided to Council. The report should be submitted to the first meeting each year and includes all programs accredited in the previous year.
12.2 A summary report of all programs approved for development is compiled by Academic Secretariat to be provided to University Executive, for noting at least twice annually.
Templates and Guidelines are available on MyUSC > Teaching > Program Accreditation and Course Approval.
Flowchart: Accreditation Process for a New Program
Available from MyUSC > Teaching > Program Accreditation and Course Approval > Programs > Guidelines and Flowcharts (Staff Login required)