Quality and Standards Framework

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Quality and Standards Framework

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This Quality and Standards Framework is intended to guide activities that will contribute to development of a University-wide culture of ongoing quality assurance, quality improvement and alignment or compliance with recommended or mandated higher education standards in order to achieve the University’s objectives and desired outcomes.

In this Framework:

Quality assurance means the management and organisational processes in place for checking that the standards and quality of higher education provision by the University meet higher education sector requirements and norms.

Quality improvement means the management and organisational processes in place for ongoing improvement of higher education provision by the University.

Higher education standards means Higher Education Standards made under the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency Act 2011 and other codified quality-related standards applicable to Australian universities, eg Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research.

The Framework

The following principles, together with the PIRI Quality System (Plan, Implement, Review, Improve), form the University’s encompassing framework for quality assurance, quality improvement and alignment with higher education quality standards:

Principles
  1. Strategic oversight of quality and compliance with mandatory higher education standards is at the highest levels of University governance
  2. Efforts for quality assurance and improvement are coordinated by and cascade from the highest levels of USC management (quality management)
  3. Key external reference points (ERPs) and higher education sector benchmarks inform the development and review of plans, systems, policies, processes, practices, programs and courses. ERPs include, for example, legislation, sector-wide frameworks, codes of practice, guidelines and professional accreditation standards
  4. Clear and transparent plans, systems, policies and processes relating to higher education and related services are in place, accessible, implemented and regularly monitored, reviewed and improved
  5. Processes are in place and implemented for regular monitoring, evaluation and reporting of higher education and related service provision outcomes, including benchmarking and performance measurement against targets, indicators and external standards
  6. Opportunity is provided for appropriate internal and external involvement in the maintenance of quality and standards, including through use of feedback from students, graduates, employers, staff and other stakeholders
  7. Students and staff are supported in the pursuit of quality and the maintenance of standards
  8. All students and prospective students are treated fairly and equitably and provided with timely and accurate information relevant to their current or future studies or research or other engagement and pursuits with the University

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Quality System

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The University’s Quality System – Plan, Implement, Review, Improve (PIRI) – a cyclical system for ongoing quality improvement, as described and summarised below, is the primary means by which the principles of the Quality and Standards Framework are embedded and demonstrated in all University activity.

Plan: Formulation of plans, policy, processes, timelines and responsibilities for achieving outcomes intended to maintain or improve quality, including performance standards, measures, indicators, targets; and methods and frequency for performance monitoring and reporting.

Implement: Implementation of the planned arrangements, including regular monitoring and reporting on progress / efficacy / outcomes.

Review: Ongoing and summative review, based on evidence, of the extent to which planned arrangements are having/have had the desired effect in bringing about intended outcomes, including evaluation of the efficacy and impact of the planned arrangements.

Improve: Ongoing evidence-based identification of improvements and changes to be incorporated in new or reformulated plans, policy and processes in order to contribute to enhanced or improved outcomes.

Areas encompassed by the Framework

The Framework encompasses all areas of University endeavour and activity, including:

  • Corporate governance
  • Academic governance
  • University management
  • Learning, teaching and research environment
  • Student learning experience at USC
  • Student support and safety nets
  • Teaching
  • Scholarship
  • Research
  • Research training
  • External engagement and environment
  • University information, communications, marketing and promotion.

Current quality and standards accountabilities and responsibilities

All policies and procedures of the University contribute wholly, or in part, to quality assurance, quality improvement or compliance with relevant external standards or requirements. Responsibilities for implementation of those policies and procedures are identified in the relevant documentation through specification of a Responsible Officer and, in some instances, a Designated Officer for each policy or set of procedures.

In a broader context:

  • The University Council is accountable to the Australian Government and the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency for quality assurance and compliance with higher education standards by the University of the Sunshine Coast.
  • The Vice-Chancellor and President is responsible and accountable to the University Council for quality management, quality assurance and compliance with higher education standards across the range of all University activities.
  • The Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor, in collaboration with the Academic Board, is responsible and accountable to the Vice-Chancellor and President for quality assurance, quality improvement and compliance with relevant higher education standards in the areas of academic governance, learning and teaching, academic support, and student support.
  • The Chief Operating Officer is responsible and accountable to: the University Council, in the capacity of Secretary to Council, for quality assurance, quality improvement and compliance with relevant higher education standards related to corporate governance; and the Vice-Chancellor and President for quality assurance, quality improvement and compliance with relevant higher education standards in the specific areas of financial management, University planning, information and communications technology, student recruitment and marketing, human resources, safety and security, and facilities.
  • The Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation), in collaboration with the Academic Board, is responsible and accountable to the Vice-Chancellor and President for quality assurance, quality improvement and compliance with relevant higher education standards in the specific areas of research, research training and innovation.
  • The Pro Vice-Chancellor (International and Quality) is responsible, and accountable to the Vice-Chancellor and President, for guiding the overall development and implementation of the University’s quality system, liaison with the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency and quality assurance, quality improvement and compliance with relevant higher education standards in the specific areas of international education and international development.
  • The Pro Vice-Chancellor (Students) is responsible and accountable to the Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor for quality assurance, quality improvement and compliance with relevant higher education standards in the areas of initiating and leading student success strategies, advancing and supporting higher education research, learning and teaching scholarship, and academic governance.
  • Executive Deans are responsible and accountable to the Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor (and Chairperson of the Academic Board) for quality assurance, quality improvement and compliance with relevant higher education standards within their respective Faculties.
  • Heads of School, Directors or Managers who report direct to a member of the Executive are responsible and accountable to the relevant member of Executive for implementation of the University’s quality system, quality assurance, quality improvement and compliance with relevant higher education standards within the School or organisational unit/s or University-wide functional areas that they lead.
  • All employees of the University, through their supervisor, are responsible and accountable to their supervisor, for implementing the University’s quality system, quality assurance and improvement processes, and processes for compliance with higher education standards as they pertain to each employee’s work and area of operation.
  • Students and other members of the University community have a responsibility to contribute to quality assurance and improvement at the University.

Approved by the Council of the University on 3 December 2013 (Resolution C13/62)

Effective as at 2 January 2014.

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