(1) This Policy governs the accreditation of SCU Courses, Units and non-award Units, from conception, introduction, modification and review through to removal. It seeks to:
(2) This Policy applies to all:
(3) The Academic Board Definitions Policy applies to this Policy in addition to the listed terms below.
(4) Accreditation means a determination made by the Council of the Southern Cross University, or by the Academic Board under delegation from the Council, that the academic integrity of a course has been demonstrated, that the course can be offered by the University, and that successful completion of the course is appropriate for the award of a University qualification.
(5) Management Information System (MIS) means the Southern Cross University Management Information System (MIS) which warehouses key University data and provides reports and information for institutional performance monitoring and reporting.
(6) Unit and Course Management System (UCMS) means SCU's online IT system for managing course and unit approval processes in accordance with SCU policy. Associated administrative functions accommodate the development of unit information for students, management of marketing information and a 'dashboard' for the management of UCMS-related information in the Student Management system.
(7) As a self-accrediting education provider, SCU accredits courses which:
(8) SCU Courses (and their constituent units) may be accredited at AQF levels 5 to 10 (Diploma to Doctorate) or as non-AQF awards, for a maximum of 7 years, unless a shorter duration meets external professional accreditation requirements.
(9) SCU will undertake a systematic and tiered process of course reviews to ensure the quality and standards of its courses and units are maintained and enhanced over time. The quality assurance process comprises:
(10) The schedule of Course Accreditation Reviews ((9)d) will be determined by the Chair of Academic Board annually after consultation with the Vice Chancellor, and circulated to the Office of Planning Quality and Review, all School/College Boards and Academic Board, noting:
(11) The Chair of Academic Board in consultation with the Vice Chancellor may exempt any Course from a review, except a review instigated by the Vice Chancellor or Academic Board.
(12) The removal of Courses and Units from the University's offerings must incorporate appropriate transitional arrangements for affected students.
(13) The decision to remove a Course will be made well in advance of actual Course cessation in the context of the University's strategic plan and priorities, School/College operational plans, staffing profile and resourcing, and academic plans.
(14) New course proposals must align with the University's strategic plan and priorities, School/College operational plans, staffing profile, available resources and academic plans.
(15) SCU courses and units will be developed and amended via the UCMS, based on sound pedagogy.
(16) Courses and units will be developed, reviewed and amended with reference to relevant Rules, Policies, Procedures and Guidelines including the following:
(17) Courses and unit proposals will normally be presented for review/approval in accordance with the Course Development Planning Timeline.
(18) All new course and unit proposals and amendments must be progressed via the UCMS in order to be considered for final approval by an authority of the University. The UCMS imposes standardised and mandatory documentation requirements, work flow and approval processes for course and unit accreditation matters.
(19) Vice Chancellor endorsement should be obtained before development of a Course Concept Proposal is commenced within the UCMS.
(20) A Course Concept Proposal will be completed within the UCMS in accordance with the UCMS Course Concept Guidelines, Academic Governance Approval Levels Table and Course Development Planning Timeline.
(21) Where a Course Concept Proposal is approved in accordance with the Academic Governance Approval Levels Table:
(22) A new course may only be delivered when both:
(23) Staff and School/College Boards seeking to amend a course will initiate the desired change via the UCMS. Amendment review and approval work-flows are embedded in the UCMS in accordance with the Academic Governance Approval Levels Table.
(24) After each offering, Unit Assessors will complete a Unit Report based on data presented in the Unit Performance Report (MIS) and provide it to the Course Coordinator.
(25) By 30 April of the year after a course was offered, the Course Coordinator for each course will complete a Course Report using the approved template in which they respond to data in the Course Performance Report (produced from the MIS) and to issues raised in the Unit Reports for the year of the report.
(26) Where courses are delivered through Third Party Arrangements, the Course Report must consider the comparability of standards and student experience at the Third Party locations.
(27) When compiling and considering the Course Report, the Course Coordinator must keep in mind any linkages with other Schools regarding double degrees and combined degrees.
(28) The Course Coordinator will distribute the completed Course Report to the Head of School/College and the School/College Board by 30 April of the year after a course was offered.
(29) On receipt of the Course Report, the School/College Board will:
(30) On an annual basis, the University's Academic Portfolio Group (APG) will assess the performance of SCU courses using a set of parameters agreed by the APG. Based on this assessment and following consultation with the relevant Head(s) of School, the APG will recommend courses in need of review to the Vice Chancellor.
(31) The Vice Chancellor will assess the APG's recommendations and determine which, if any, courses will be reviewed. The Vice Chancellor may instruct the Chair of Academic Board to instigate reviews accordingly.
(32) Acting outside the APG recommendations, for any course:
(33) A scheduled Course Accreditation Review will be instigated by the Chair of Academic Board in accordance with the clause (10) schedule.
(34) In the case where courses are accredited by External agencies such as Professional bodies, the external accreditation review will be aligned to the Scheduled review and may, in circumstances approved by the Chair of Academic Board, take the place of and be regarded as a scheduled review.
(35) The Terms of Reference and time for completion for the Course Accreditation Review will be determined by the Chair of Academic Board in consultation with the Vice Chancellor and relevant Head of School.
(36) A course review in a School will be conducted by one or more external experts.
(37) Subject to clause (39), the relevant Head of School/College will propose the names of three external experts to the Chair of Academic Board, together with brief CVs or relevant website links for those people proposed to conduct the review.
(38) After consultation with the Vice Chancellor, the Chair of Academic Board may select reviewers from the list of proposed external experts, or may reject all names and ask the relevant Head of School/College to provide a further list. The Chair will advise the next meeting of Academic Board of their decision.
(39) In most cases, only one external expert will be selected, however, multiple external experts may be selected by the Chair of Academic Board where the suite of courses under review is complex or cuts across a number of discipline areas. In such cases, the relevant Head of School/College may be required to nominate more than three external experts under clause (37).
(40) In the sixth year since a course was accredited or subsequently reviewed by SCU:
(41) When the Head of School/College is compiling the Course Review Submission they must consult with other relevant Schools to ensure that all the issues relevant to double degrees and combined degrees are reviewed.
(42) At least four weeks prior to the arrival of the reviewer, the relevant Chair of School/College Board, through the Secretary of the Course Accreditation Review (the Secretary), will provide the external expert and the Office of Planning, Quality and Review with a copy of the Course Review Submission. At the same time the Secretary will provide all other additional materials available to the Expert.
(43) The Expert will discuss with the Secretary any interviews and additional material required. The Head of School/College, through the Secretary, will ensure all reasonable requests for information made by the Expert are met and organised in advance of the review.
(44) The External Expert will:
(45) The Expert will normally undertake the review across a two day period.
(46) The external expert will produce a Report of the Course Accreditation Review (the Report) which:
(47) The Report will be finalised within four (4) weeks of the review and will be sent by the external expert to the Secretary. Upon receipt the Secretary will distribute the Report to the:
(48) The Chair of Academic Board will consult with the Vice Chancellor and Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic) and provide a response to the recommendations of the Report to:
(49) Following a Course Accreditation Review, Academic Board may:
(50) Within 12 weeks of receipt of the responses of the Academic Board, the Head of School/College in consultation with the School Board and Vice Chancellor will develop a five year Implementation Plan to address the recommendations of the Report and the responses of the Chair of Academic Board and Academic Board.
(51) One year after receipt of the Report of the Review recommendations, the Head of School/College through the School Board will provide an update on the course delivery (or removal) and curriculum aspects (only) of the Implementation Plan to Academic Board.
(52) For the avoidance of doubt, a course will remain accredited until it is formally disaccredited or removed by University Council (or delegate as applicable - refer Delegations Rule and Rules for the Academic Board and its Committees).
(53) The removal of a course from the offerings of the University will be initiated and processed through the UCMS.
(54) Final approval to withdraw undergraduate courses is required at least 12 months ahead of the relevant admission period to facilitate the removal of the course from marketing materials such as the QTAC and UAC Guides. The Course Removal Submission must therefore be instigated well in advance of this 12 month prior-approval timeframe.
(55) The decision to initiate a course removal should be made in the context of the University's strategic plan and priorities, School/College operational plans, staffing profile and resourcing, academic plans, and where applicable, a Course Accreditation Review. The implications of a course removal, including the impact on other courses, transitional arrangements for students, and the redeployment of resources also need to be considered through the UCMS.
(56) Reasons the University may consider discontinuing and removing a course are:
(57) Except in the case of clause (49)b, a course removal is initiated by the Head of School/College, or the Vice Chancellor.
(58) Where the course removal proposal is initiated by a Head of School/College:
(59) Where the course removal proposal is initiated by the Vice Chancellor, the submission will go directly to Accreditation Committee for noting and further progression in accordance with the Academic Governance Approval Levels Table and the UCMS.
(60) Final approval to remove a course from the offerings of the University will be in accordance with the Academic Governance Approval Levels Table and the Delegations Rule.
(61) Where SCU discontinues a course offering, it will implement effective course transition plans for all students enrolled in the course of study to ensure that these students are not disadvantaged.
(62) SCU will provide assistance to affected students and enable them to variously:
(63) Subject to clause (63), the default period for transitioning students out of a removed course is:
(64) Where such courses are offered through Third Party Arrangements the transitional arrangements may be extended for up to 12 months to address in country accreditation or to meet ESOS marketing requirements.
(65) The relevant Head of School/College will ensure that students affected by the decision to disestablish a course are notified of their options and transitional arrangements that will be put in place.