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Academic Quality, Standards and Integrity Policy

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Section 1 - Purpose and Scope

Purpose

(1) This Policy:

  1. Describes the University's approach to upholding and improving the quality, standards and integrity of its academic activities and outcomes.
  2. Supports compliance with the Higher Education Standards Framework (Threshold Standards) 2015 (Cth).

Scope

(2) This Policy applies to all academic activities conducted by the University, including through its educational partnerships, except for research-related academic activities.

(3) This Policy does not apply to Higher Degree Research teaching and learning, which is considered a research-related academic activity for the purposes of this Policy.

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Section 2 - Definitions

(4) Refer to the Definitions (Academic) Policy.

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Section 3 - Quality Assurance of Academic Standards

(5) The University uses robust and efficient systems to support academic quality, uphold academic standards and integrity, and continuously improve academic practices, processes and outcomes to provide an outstanding student experience.

(6) Academic quality and integrity are assured by applying and upholding the following academic quality assurance principles:

  1. Designing and developing the curriculum to meet appropriate pre-determined internal and external specifications, including those set out in the Australian Qualifications Framework and professional accreditation requirements when appropriate. (Threshold Standard 3.1 - Course Design)
  2. Regularly and systematically reviewing the taught curriculum, including learning outcomes and assessment, and actioning recommendations arising from those reviews. (Threshold Standard 5.3 - Monitoring, Review and Improvement and 1.4 Learning Outcomes and Assessment)
  3. Valuing student feedback as a key element in driving quality assurance and improving the student academic experience.
  4. Conducting external referencing of the curriculum and academic activities to ensure alignment with best practice.
  5. Maintaining rigorous oversight of curriculum delivered by the University's educational partners to ensure equivalence of academic standards and quality. (Threshold Standard 5.4 Delivery with Other Parties)
  6. Enabling continued scholarly and professional development of academic staff to support high teaching standards and maintain currency of discipline expertise. (Threshold Standard 3.2 Staffing)
  7. Upholding academic integrity standards by implementing a consistent and appropriate approach to the management of integrity issues and providing comprehensive information and guidance to students. (Threshold Standard 5.2 - Research and Academic Integrity)
  8. Implementing a rigorous and consistent standards-based process for managing credit transfer and recognising prior learning to ensure that the integrity of the curriculum and associated awards are maintained. (Threshold Standard 1.2 Credit and Recognition of Prior Learning)
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Section 4 - Policy Content

Principle 1: Curriculum is developed and accredited to consistently meet appropriate predetermined internal and external specifications

(7) Courses and units are designed and developed in accordance with the Curriculum Design and Development Policy to meet the specifications set out in the Australian Qualifications Framework and Higher Education Standards Framework, and to enable external accreditation by a professional body when this is required for professional practice.

(8) Proposals to develop new courses and units and to amend current courses and units are rigorously scrutinised and systematically approved by suitably qualified academic staff in accordance with the Course and Unit Approval Authorities.

(9) The Unit and Course Management System (UCMS) clearly and comprehensively documents all elements of the curriculum to ensure compliance with the University's curriculum design principles.

Principle 2: The taught curriculum is regularly monitored and systematically reviewed to ensure continuous improvement

(10) The quality of the University's taught curriculum is assured and improved over time through a systematic process of monitoring and review.

(11) Curriculum monitoring and review processes are:

  1. referenced against national standards, in accordance with the Benchmarking Schedule;
  2. informed by student feedback and performance data including student progression, attrition and completion rates;
  3. applied across all student cohorts and delivery locations and against external reference points; and
  4. acted upon to improve future unit and teaching outcomes.

(12) The outcomes from curriculum monitoring and review processes, including recommendations for corrective action, will be regularly and systematically reported to Academic Board and its relevant sub-committees as set out in the Curriculum Monitoring and Review Reporting Schedule.

Monitoring and Review of Courses

(13) Monitoring and review of courses comprises:

  1. Course Reports, which are required to be produced annually by the relevant Course Coordinator for all courses and locations, including those courses delivered through educational partnership arrangements; and
  2. Course Reviews, which may be scheduled or ad hoc as required.

(14) Course Reports will:

  1. evaluate course performance over the reporting period with respect to student enrolment patterns, student success and satisfaction, effectiveness of the approach to course delivery, achievement of intended learning outcomes, and equivalence of outcomes and student experience across different delivery locations, including delivery through educational partnership arrangements;
  2. report on the status of external accreditation with any relevant professional bodies;
  3. evaluate the effectiveness of the course academic staffing profile with respect to the criteria described in clause (37);
  4. report on the outcomes of any monitoring or corrective actions required from the previous Course Report process; and
  5. recommend any actions required to further monitor or correct unsatisfactory course performance.

(15) Course Reviews will:

  1. evaluate the suitability of course design in the context of the principles set out in the Curriculum Design and Development Policy, including compliance with the Australian Qualifications Framework and any professional accreditation requirements;
  2. evaluate the effectiveness of the course in delivering intended student learning outcomes;
  3. evaluate the quality of the academic experience for students in the course, from pre-admission to post-graduation;
  4. evaluate the suitability and effectiveness of staffing and other resources for the course;
  5. evaluate the financial viability and strategic fit of the course in the University's overall academic profile;
  6. examine any other matters requested by the Chair, Academic Board; and
  7. make recommendations to Academic Board concerning any of the matters above, including a recommendation as to whether the course should be reaccredited with or without conditions.

(16) Course Reviews will be conducted within seven years of the last accreditation or reaccreditation of the course by the University Council (or Academic Board as delegated)in accordance with the Course Review Procedures by one or more suitably qualified experts, appointed by the Chair, Academic Board in consultation with the Pro Vice Chancellor (Academic Quality), including:

  1. at least one academic staff member of another university, who will be an independent expert;
  2. optionally, a representative from the relevant professional community; and
  3. optionally, an academic staff member of the University from different School or College to the School or College that owns the course.

(17) An annual Course Review schedule will be determined by the Chair, Academic Board in consultation with the Pro Vice Chancellor (Academic Quality), aligned wherever possible with the timing of reviews by external accreditation bodies and reviews of related courses in order to minimise duplication of effort, and made available to the University community.

(18) An ad hoc Course Review may be initiated at any time by:

  1. the Academic Board;
  2. the Pro Vice Chancellor (Academic Quality); or
  3. the Chair, Academic Board.

(19) Following a Course Review, Academic Board will either:

  1. approve that the course be reaccredited;
  2. require specific actions to be taken prior to or as a condition of approving that the course be reaccredited; or
  3. advise University Council that the course should not remain accredited and be removed from the offerings of the University.

(20) For the avoidance of doubt, a course will remain accredited until it is formally disaccredited or removed by the University Council (or delegate as applicable – refer to the Delegations Rule and the Course and Unit Approval Authorities).

(21) Courses may not be accredited for a period of more than seven years unless they are reaccredited by Academic Board following a Course Review.

(22) Any significant change in the status of external accreditation with any relevant professional bodies for a course will be reported to Academic Board as soon as practicable.

Monitoring and Review of Units

(23) Monitoring and review of units occurs through the internal quality indicators in learning and teaching (iQILT) reporting process, which evaluates unit performance at the conclusion of each study period in which that unit was offered with respect to:

  1. Unit Success rate, which is defined as the percentage of students attempting the unit that received a passing grade; and
  2. Unit Satisfaction rate, which is defined as the percentage of Unit Feedback Survey respondents marking 'Agree' or 'Strongly Agree' to the question "Overall, I am satisfied with this unit”.

(24) Unit Success and Unit Satisfaction rates are determined using student feedback and performance data collected at the conclusion of each study period, consisting of:

  1. a unit feedback report for each unit derived from the University's Unit Feedback Survey, which includes feedback on unit teaching and unit teaching staff; and
  2. a unit performance report for each unit that includes student success, student withdrawal and grade outcomes.

(25) iQILT reports will:

  1. evaluate unit performance against Thresholds for Unit Success and Unit Satisfaction Rates determined by Academic Board;
  2. report on the outcomes of any monitoring or corrective actions required from the previous iQILT report process; and
  3. recommend any actions required to further monitor or correct unsatisfactory unit performance.

Monitoring and Review of Learning Outcomes and Assessment

(26) Curriculum quality is supported by the alignment of assessment with learning outcomes at the unit level, and alignment of unit learning outcomes with learning outcomes at the minor, major, specialisation and course levels, as set out in the Curriculum Design and Development Policy.

(27) The integrity of assessment, its effectiveness in verifying achievement of unit learning outcomes, and integrity of grading standards is assured by the Committee of Examiners.

(28) Assessment quality is assured and continuously improved using evidence-based practices as set out in the Assessment Policy.

Principle 3: Student feedback and evaluation is systematically used to assure curriculum quality and inform continuous improvement

(29) The University regularly and systematically collects student feedback and evaluation data through surveys and other evaluation instruments including:

  1. Unit Feedback Surveys (internal);
  2. Student Experience Survey (external);
  3. Course Experience Questionnaire (external);
  4. Graduate Outcomes Survey (external); and
  5. International Student Barometer (external).

(30) Student feedback and evaluation data is used to assure and improve:

  1. course performance through inclusion in the annual Course Report process;
  2. unit performance through inclusion in the iQILT process; and
  3. teaching and assessment quality by explicitly considering and responding to student feedback in each consecutive unit delivery.

(31) Student feedback and evaluation data is additionally used, with other information, to:

  1. meet external quality assurance reporting requirements; and
  2. provide evidence for staff promotion, probation and awards.

Principle 4: External referencing is systematically used to assure academic quality and inform continuous improvement

(32) External referencing and benchmarking is systematically used to:

  1. compare academic practices, processes and performance outcomes across the University's Schools and Colleges and higher education institutions nationally;
  2. identify institutional and sector best practice; and
  3. identify and implement opportunities for improvement to ensure high quality academic experience and outcomes.

(33) External referencing and benchmarking is conducted in accordance with the Benchmarking Schedule for a range of academic activities related to:

  1. curriculum design;
  2. curriculum review and monitoring;
  3. assessment practices;
  4. scholarship;
  5. credit transfer; and
  6. academic integrity.

Principle 5: Curriculum delivered by the University's educational partners meets the same standards and provides an equivalent student experience as curriculum delivered by the University

(34) Curriculum delivered through the University's educational partnership arrangements will meet the requirements of this policy and associated procedures to ensure equivalent academic standards are maintained by the University and its educational partners.

(35) Educational partnership arrangements are subject to additional quality assurance reviews in accordance with the Educational Partnership Policy and Educational Partnership Quality Assurance Procedures.

Principle 6: Teaching is informed by scholarship

(36) The University’s Human Resources policies establish the settings and processes to ensure that all staff are appropriately qualified and experienced for the academic activities they lead.

(37) The academic staffing profile for each course of study, as recorded in the UCMS and reviewed annually as part of the Course Reporting process, will encompass the necessary depth and breadth of academic leadership and teaching capacity needed to lead students in intellectual inquiry suited to the nature and level of expected learning outcomes, as demonstrated by:

  1. formal staff qualifications; and
  2. current scholarly activity in the discipline area.

(38) All newly appointed teaching academic staff, including casual staff, are offered an induction program on teaching and assessment practice, which is designed and delivered by the Centre for Teaching and Learning, unless equivalence can be demonstrated.

(39) All teaching staff are provided with opportunities to continuously improve teaching practice based on scholarly evidence, including for teaching different student cohorts with particular needs.

Principle 7: Academic integrity is rigorously assured and proactively defended in all aspects of teaching and scholarship

(40) Risks to academic integrity associated with research activities of staff and Higher Degree Research students are managed in accordance with the Responsible Research Conduct Policy and the Research Authorship and Publications Policy and their associated Procedures.

(41) Risks to academic integrity associated with coursework teaching and learning are proactively defended against by:

  1. designing assessment to explicitly mitigate against the potential for academic integrity breaches;
  2. educating students to avoid academic integrity breaches, including the development of their academic literacy skills;
  3. mandating use of rigorous tools and processes, including employing appropriate technology and educating staff, to detect, deter and compile evidence of academic integrity breaches;
  4. facilitating sharing of effective practices, ideas and resources among the teaching community; and
  5. applying consistent and proportionate responses to breaches of academic integrity as set out in the Academic Misconduct Guidelines.

(42) The University's framework for upholding and managing academic integrity will be easily accessible and clearly articulated to the entire academic community, including staff and students, via a dedicated page on the University's website.

(43) Curriculum design and accreditation processes will incorporate mechanisms to ensure all students are educated about academic integrity, explicitly identify and quantify risks to academic integrity, and implement appropriate strategies to mitigate against identified risks, at both the unit and course level.

(44) Breaches of academic integrity by students will be classified using clear, published criteria based on the student's intentions and experience as either:

  1. minor – unintentional and reasonable as part the normal learning process;
  2. moderate – unintentional but unacceptably negligent in the context of the student’s opportunities to learn; and
  3. major – intentional or purposely negligent (cheating), including contract cheating.

(45) Suspected minor breaches of academic integrity will be managed by unit teaching staff using an educative approach.

(46) Suspected moderate and major breaches of academic integrity are considered potential academic misconduct will be managed in accordance with the Rules - Student Academic and Non-Academic Misconduct Rules.

(47) The consequences of student academic integrity breaches are primarily focused on education for unintentional breaches and deterrence for intentional breaches and are proportionate to the extent and impact of the breach at each level.

(48) Robust and transparent processes for reporting and analysis of academic integrity breaches will be employed to enable regular review of success in managing risks to academic integrity, continuous improvement of processes to further strengthen defences, and rapid response to significant trends and incidents.

Principle 8: Prior learning is recognised appropriately, rigorously and consistently to maintain the integrity of the curriculum and associated awards

(49) Students will be awarded maximum credit for relevant prior learning on condition that the integrity of the course of study is maintained and that students granted credit are not disadvantaged in achieving the expected learning outcomes for the course of study.

(50) A rigorous and consistent process is applied to managing credit transfer and recognition of prior learning to ensure that the integrity of courses and associated awards are maintained, and in accordance with the AQF Qualifications Pathways Policy.

(51) Credit transfer or recognition of prior learning will be awarded:

  1. strictly based on evidence demonstrating that the prior learning experience is equivalent to the credit granted with respect to learning outcomes, volume of learning, content, and learning and assessment approaches;
  2. regardless of how, when and where prior learning was acquired, provided that the learning is relevant and current;
  3. fairly, equitably, consistently and transparently by appropriately trained staff; and
  4. in accordance with the Advanced Standing Policy and Procedures.

(52) Credit transfer or recognition of prior learning will not be awarded when it would compromise:

  1. the integrity of a course or the associated award;
  2. the status of external accreditation by a professional body; or
  3. the ability of a student to successfully complete the course.

(53) Standards relating to credit transfer and recognition of prior learning are benchmarked to ensure approaches and practices are consistent with those employed by other Australian and international higher education institutions.

(54) Credit transfer standards and arrangements are regularly reported to Academic Board via the Academic Standards and Quality Committee.

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Section 5 - Associated Documents

(55) Schedules:

  1. Benchmarking Schedule (under development)
  2. Curriculum Monitoring and Review Reporting Schedule (under development)

(56) Procedures:

  1. Academic Integrity Procedures (under development)
  2. Course Review Procedures

(57) This Policy should be read in conjunction with:

  1. Curriculum Design and Development Policy
  2. Curriculum Design and Development Procedures
  3. Course and Unit Monitoring and Review Procedures
  4. Assessment Policy
  5. Assessment Procedures
  6. Educational Partnership Policy
  7. Educational Partnership Quality Assurance Procedures
  8. Advanced Standing and Recognition of Prior Learning Policy
  9. Advanced Standing and Recognition of Prior Learning Procedures
  10. Academic Misconduct Guidelines
  11. Student Academic and Non-Academic Misconduct Rules
  12. Text Matching Software Policy