Review of Schools and Academic Disciplines - Procedures

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1. Purpose and Objectives

These procedures enact PPL 1.40.05a Organisational Unit Reviews – Policy.

2. Definitions, Terms, Acronyms

Composition - the positions that together form a review committee.

Membership - the persons appointed to those positions that compose a review committee.

President - President of the Academic Board.

3. Procedures Scope/Coverage

These procedures apply to reviews of schools at The University of Queensland.

4. Procedures Statement

Academic Board, through its Standing Committee, conducts reviews of schools on a septennial basis. Reviews involve self-analysis, benchmarking and an external assessment of the school’s strategic and operational plans, with a view to securing outstanding performance by international standards.

The review considers the school’s relationships with other organisational units. The review also considers resourcing, resource management and organisational structure and whether these allow the school to fulfil its goals and objectives and reach its potential.

The review committee's task is to provide an objective view of the school’s plans developed through the self-assessment process, and to comment on the appropriateness of those plans. Although the majority of reviews are expected to result in incremental changes, reviews provide an opportunity for schools to embrace significant change and development

5. Procedures

5.1 Scheduling the review

Each year Academic Board Standing Committee prepares a tentative schedule for reviews to be held in the next seven years, and, in consultation with Executive Deans and subject to approval by the Vice-Chancellor’s Committee, prepares, no later than the end of the first semester, a list of schools to be reviewed in the following year.

In each case, the Head of School and Executive Dean identify a range of dates for the review. Invitations to join the review committee are sent out as early as possible by the President in order to give the school maximum notice of the exact timing of the review. Once availability is established, the final dates for the review are determined.

The normal duration of a review will be four days. In some cases, a shorter (minimum three-day) or longer (maximum five-day) review may be appropriate. This should be decided, in consultation with the Executive Dean or at the instance of the Head of School (supported by the Executive Dean), and following endorsement by the Vice-Chancellor’s Committee, in conjunction with the approval of the terms of reference for the review, bearing in mind that the standard terms of reference may be modified in order to direct the attention of the school and/or the review committee to particular matters of special importance in relation to the school’s performance or its future.

5.2 Composition and membership of review committees

Proposed membership of a review committee is presented by the Head of School via the Executive Dean to the President. Following consideration by the Academic Board Standing Committee, the President and Head present the proposed membership to a meeting of the Vice-Chancellor's Committee for advice. The membership of the committee is then confirmed by Academic Board Standing Committee.

The composition of a school review committee is:

  • two to three external members (depending on the size and diversity of the school) with nationally/internationally recognised discipline expertise and knowledge, drawn from a range of institutions, including international partner or benchmarking universities or institutes;
  • a representative of the Academic Board Standing Committee; and
  • the head of a cognate school.

On the recommendation of the President and subject to approval by the Vice-Chancellor’s Committee, Academic Board Standing Committee appoints one of the external members to chair the review committee. The President considers -

  • discipline expertise;
  • impartiality;
  • experience in managing organisational units of a comparable size; and
  • experience in the conduct of similar reviews.

The Academic Board Standing Committee representative and the cognate school member on the review committee do not normally belong to the same faculty as the school under review.

The overall membership of a review committee provides as broad a coverage as possible of all the major disciplines offered by the school.

Where it is relevant to the core functions of the school, one of the external members has strong industry, corporate or government links.

The Executive Manager of the faculty to which the school belongs normally serves as the Secretary to the review committee.

5.3 Standard terms of reference

The standard terms of reference are:

To review, within the context of the University’s strategic and operational plans, the school’s current performance and in particular its plans for enhancing performance in relation to the terms listed in section 10.

The terms of reference provide the framework in which the school, through its “self-assessment”, and the review panel, through its enquiries, can analyse the school’s performance and plans in relation to appropriate and attainable future objectives. Accordingly, these standard terms of reference are guidelines and may be modified, in advance of the development by the School of review documentation, on the initiative of the Vice-Chancellor’s Committee or the Executive Dean or the Head of School (with the Executive Dean’s approval) in order to direct the attention of the school and/or the review committee to particular matters of special importance in relation to the school’s performance or its future. It will be relevant to how the terms of reference are framed whether the school and/or one or more of its key activities has recently been or will soon be subject to external review, as, for example, by an accrediting body.

Proposed terms of reference are presented by the Head of School via the Executive Dean to the President. Following consideration by the Academic Board Standing Committee, the President and the Head present the proposed terms of reference to a meeting of the Vice-Chancellor’s Committee for advice. The terms of reference are then confirmed by Academic Board Standing Committee.

5.4 Review process

The purpose of school reviews is to:

achieve improvement in the academic performance of a school and its constituent disciplines through a process of self-assessment, benchmarking, critical reflection, forward planning and peer review. Reviews provide the catalyst for a continuing cycle of development and improvement with a view to adopting good practice by international standards.

5.4.1 Pre-review process

The pre-review period includes the time between notification of the review and the review itself.

Schools are given the approved terms of reference together with a set of guidelines regarding the review approximately 12 months in advance of the review, at which time the Head of School and other senior members of the school attend a workshop presented by the President. Schools are encouraged to begin self-assessment exercises at this time.

The Academic Board Standing Committee member briefs the school’s staff on the review procedure at an open meeting approximately six months prior to the review. Before the visit, the Head of School:

  • issues an invitation to all school staff, including professional and research staff, to attend the briefing; and
  • briefs the Academic Board Standing Committee member on any recent developments in the school.

The school prepares a submission to the review committee (see Section 9 below). Schools are provided with detailed guidelines to ensure that submissions supply review committees with information about the school that is accurate, focused, comprehensive and consistent; and review committees are urged to use these same guidelines to assess the school.

The school will provide its submission at least one month before the scheduled date for the commencement of the review, and it will be made available to the review committee, the President, the Provost; and upon request, to other University units. The school submission will also be made available, upon request and at the discretion of the Head of School, to individual University staff members and persons external to the University.

The President invites interested parties (including all school staff, and undergraduate and postgraduate students) to make a written submission to the review.

Submissions received from (i) the heads of University units, e.g. Heads of Schools, Executive Deans of faculties, heads of administrative units (and therefore written on behalf of those units), (ii) other individual University staff members, (iii) individuals external to the University, and (iv) students; will be made available to the review committee, the President and the Provost.

At the same time, all submissions will be released to the school; and after approval of the review committee's report by the Vice-Chancellor, also to any enquirer; under the following conditions:

  • in the case of students' submissions, all identifying details will be removed from the submission prior to release, as standard practice; and
  • if an individual University staff member or a person external to the University requests confidentiality (by completing the Request for Confidentiality form), identifying details will be removed from their submission prior to release.

The Academic Board Standing Committee representative and the cognate school member of the review committee meet approximately two weeks prior to the review to decide on interviews and the structure of the review.

5.4.2 Timetable

The timetable for the review is developed by the Secretary to the review committee in consultation with the committee Chair and the President.

A summary of review events and suggested days for these to occur and a timeline of the entire review process are available in PPL 1.40.06c Review of Schools and Academic Disciplines – Guidelines.

While noting the importance of interviewing relevant persons with respect to issues arising in the review, some limitation should be placed on the number of people interviewed so that repetition is avoided. Interviews should not crowd the program so that insufficient time is available for discussion by the committee. Scheduled opportunities to discuss issues that arise during interviews should be incorporated into the review program. It is not necessary that discussion occur only at the beginning and end of the day. There should also be sufficient time available in the program to enable follow-up discussion with those already interviewed, if required.

Notwithstanding this proviso, the review timetable must ensure that adequate opportunity is provided in the early part of the review for all sections of the school - academic, research and professional staff, postgraduate and undergraduate students - to express their views candidly to the full committee or to individual committee members if desired.

Interviews with representatives of professional and other external bodies must be arranged. There will also be an opportunity to hold informal discussions with employer and other professional groups (for schools that prepare graduates for entry into an identifiable profession) in a joint session at the stakeholder dinner during the review.

5.4.3 Stakeholder dinner

A stakeholder dinner will be held on the evening of the second or third day of the review. Members of the review committee and the Executive Dean will attend. Representatives of industry, government, professional bodies, and employer groups, as well as alumni will be considered as relevant to the school’s activities in research, learning, and engagement.

A draft invitation list must be prepared well in advance by the Head of School for consideration by the Executive Dean and the President, who will vet it to ensure that those attending from the community will be able to offer insight into the school’s activities that are relevant to the terms of reference for the review. The secretariat will also vet the approved list of invitees to determine whether Protocol need play a role. Invitations will be issued three months prior to the date of the dinner.

5.4.4 Conduct of the review

The review committee's task is to provide an objective view of the school's perceptions and plans developed through the self-assessment process, and either confirm or recommend changes to those plans. The review committee is expected to give detailed feedback to the school on how and where its perceptions and plans fall short in meeting performance targets.

5.4.5 Initial briefings

On the first day of the review, the President welcomes members and clarifies their roles. In addition, the committee will meet with the Vice-Chancellor and the Provost to discuss specific issues relevant to the school. The first day also includes interviews with the Executive Dean and Head of School about the issues in relation to the school under review and strategic directions for the faculty.

The second day of the review will include interviews with the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic), Deputy Vice-Chancellor (International) and Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), and, in the case of a three-day review, the Pro Vice-Chancellor, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous Engagement), and Dean of the UQ Graduate School, who otherwise are interviewed on the third day of the review.

5.4.6 Committee deliberations

The review committee considers the submission prepared by the school, together with other submissions made by interested persons and organisations, and consults with University staff, students and other persons as deemed appropriate, through interviews.

Following perusal of the school submission and interviews with the Senior Executive officers, the committee will determine whether there are additional questions to be asked relevant to the review so that the terms of reference are addressed fully. The committee will also identify those areas where answers to relevant questions are not to be found within the submitted material and determine how best to obtain that information (e.g. interviews, visits, records, direct requests to the school, etc.).

A sample of questions that the review committee might consider is available in PPL 1.40.06c Review of Schools and Academic Disciplines - Guidelines.

5.4.7 Visits to facilities

Brief visits to, and inspection of, school facilities will be included in the program to provide the opportunity to clarify or to illustrate points made in the submissions.

Where schools are multi-sited, the use of technologies such as teleconferencing will be considered. An alternative is for the internal members to visit the facilities and include a report to the full committee if required.

6. The Review Report

6.1 Structure of the report

The review report is prepared by the members of the review committee with support from the Secretary. The Chair will discuss with members the division of responsibility for drafting individual sections of the report.

It is anticipated that the review committee will develop commendations and recommendations progressively throughout the review. It is expected that a penultimate draft of the report will be completed prior to the departure of the external review committee members from the University.

Commendations will be made in those areas where the school has achieved outstanding outcomes, or has made significant progress towards doing so.

In formulating its recommendations, the review committee will take account of the resources available to the University and its collective goals and objectives, as expressed in its Strategic Plan and as advised by the President and members of the Senior Executive. Every effort will be made to ensure that statements in the report are factually correct. Recommendations will not be directed toward senior officers of the University or to the University itself. They must be directed towards the Head of School so that it is clear how the school should proceed.

A case, supported by facts and evidence, is to be made for all review recommendations, and particularly those proposing significant change or that impact on other organisational units, University rules or policies.

Review committees are encouraged to include time-frames for the implementation of recommendations.

The report consists of the following sections:

  • Membership of the Review Committee
  • Terms of Reference
  • Procedures
  • Summary of Commendations and Recommendations
  • Report of the Review Committee.

There is no mandatory format for the section "Report of the Review Committee". One possible format is to organise the report around the major themes on which the review committee wishes to make recommendations. Another option is to arrange the contents as follows:

  • Education
  • Discovery
  • Engagement
  • Internationalisation
  • Equity and Diversity
  • Governance
  • Space and Facilities
  • Business and Finance.

A review report template based on this second format option is available in PPL 1.40.06d1 Review of Schools and Academic Disciplines Report Template.

Appendix 1 to the review report must contain a list of names of all individuals who made written submissions to the review committee and all those interviewed by the review committee. An exception to this requirement is for students - names are not listed for either postgraduate or undergraduate students. The number of students in each category who were interviewed or made a submission is sufficient. Written submissions are not included in the report. Other appendices follow, if required.

6.2 Presentation of the findings

Prior to the finalisation of the recommendations:

  • the Executive Dean reviews the draft recommendations and advises the review committee on priorities, feasibility considerations, sensitivities, and other considerations that may be relevant to the crafting of the recommendations;
  • the Head of School meets with the review committee so that the Head has the opportunity to respond to the recommendations before they are made public; at the same time, the Head will be advised to communicate with individual staff who might be significantly affected by individual recommendations; and
  • the recommendations are presented to the President and the Provost, usually over lunch on the final or penultimate day of the review.

The draft final recommendations are presented to a full meeting of the school on the final day to provide a general overview of the findings from the review and an outline of the recommendations.

The presentation needs to take account of the fact that school staff members are likely to be anxious to receive the report at the culmination of a possibly stressful few days.

The Chair needs to ensure that the school is not alienated, and that concerns are allayed, and not aroused, by a willingness to clarify issues but not enter into a debate.

At the same time, the Academic Board Standing Committee member will take the opportunity to inform the school staff about the process subsequent to the departure of the review committee; touching on the time-frame for completion of the report; opportunity for the school's consideration and response; the deliberative process in the Standing Committee and the passage of the report through the Academic Board to the Vice-Chancellor; and the implementation and follow-up process.

All review committee members attend the school presentation and, wherever possible, visual aids will be used to facilitate the presentation.

6.3 Finalising the report

Following the period of the review, the report will be finalised by the Chair in consultation with the Secretary and the other members of the review committee. The report will be finalised as soon as possible, but normally within two weeks after the conclusion of the review.

6.4 Post-review process

Initially, copies of the review report are given to -

  • relevant members of the Senior Executive;
  • the Executive Dean;
  • the Head of School, for distribution to staff in the school; and
  • members of Academic Board Standing Committee.

Academic Board Standing Committee will request an initial post-review response immediately after the review, which the Head of School will prepare. This response, which must include implementation strategies, is to be submitted within four weeks of having received the final report, via the office of the Executive Dean, to both:

  • Academic Board Standing Committee; and
  • the Provost, who may refer it to the Vice-Chancellor's Committee for comment.

Anticipated challenges for the implementation of any recommendation will be included in the Head of School's response to the review recommendations. Standing Committee, augmented by the Provost, will discuss the final report together with the written response. As part of its deliberations, Standing Committee, augmented by the Provost, will interview the Head of School and the Executive Dean, together with other members of the Senior Executive as required.

Standing Committee, with the assistance and subject to the approval of the Provost, prepares a report on its deliberations for to the Academic Board, setting out the Committee’s comments on the recommendations.

The review report, the school’s response, and the report from Standing Committee, will be considered by Academic Board for forwarding to the Vice-Chancellor.

Following approval by the Vice-Chancellor, the review report, together with a composite statement from the Academic Board, is distributed to the school and to the Senate for noting.

7. Implementation

The Executive Dean and the Head of School are responsible for implementation of the adopted recommendations.

Academic Board Standing Committee is responsible for monitoring the implementation.

7.1 12-month and three-year implementation reports

The Head of School and Executive Dean must prepare an implementation report on progress made on all of the approved recommendations, to be submitted to the President within 12 months of the Vice-Chancellor’s approval of the review committee’s report. It is expected that all stakeholders, including students, are consulted and involved in the implementation of the recommendations.

The implementation report allows Standing Committee to compare the response to each recommendation over the 12-month time-frame and assess the extent to which review recommendations have been implemented. Standing Committee, augmented by the Provost will meet with the Head of School and the Executive Dean to discuss the 12-month implementation report. The Standing Committee representative on the review committee will introduce the discussion.

A similar report will be prepared for the Vice-Chancellor and the Vice-Chancellor’s Risk and Compliance Committee within thirty-six months of the Vice-Chancellor’s approval of the review report.

8. Roles of Review Committee Members and Secretariat

8.1 Chair

The role of the Chair is to:

  • liaise with the President, Provost, Executive Dean and Head of School in preparation for the review, to discuss issues such as special terms of reference, break-up of review committee to address specific terms of reference, etc. (this will be done during a preliminary visit to the campus, or if this is not possible, then via email with the President);
  • liaise with the Secretary prior to the review, to finalise the review timetable and determine the list of interviewees;
  • delegate report-writing tasks to each of the review committee members;
  • ensure the penultimate draft report is complete prior to departure;
  • present the review committee’s draft recommendations to the Head of School, Executive Dean, President, Provost, and all school staff;
  • ensure completion of the final version of the report within two weeks of the review; and
  • approve the review report before its submission to the President.

8.2 Academic Board Standing Committee representative

The role of the Academic Board Standing Committee representative is to:

  • host the initial dinner for the review committee, on behalf of the President;
  • host the stakeholder dinner, on behalf of the President;
  • chair the meeting of internal review committee members, which is conducted prior to the review;
  • represent the broader interests of the University in the review;
  • provide guidance to the review committee on University policies, procedures and protocols;
  • provide guidance to the Chair on ensuring the creation of an environment conducive to free and open discussion without prejudice to any staff member;
  • provide guidance to the review committee on how to produce the review report, in particular, ensure that:
    • the report presents a balanced viewpoint, with positive comments as appropriate; due recognition is included throughout the report to what the school is doing well and should continue to do;
    • all recommendations, and particularly those proposing significant change, are fully justified, substantiated by the evidence in submissions and from interviews, are well argued, and can stand up to close scrutiny;
    • ensure that the proposed recommendations are directed to the school, rather than to a senior officer of the University; and
    • the report's contents are factually correct;
  • accompany the review committee to the school on the afternoon of the final day to present the draft recommendations;
  • after the Chair has presented the draft recommendations, inform the school about the process following the departure of the review committee, including the:
    • time-frame for completion of the report;
    • opportunity for the school to consider the report and respond to it;
    • deliberative process at Academic Board Standing Committee;
    • passage of the report through the Academic Board to the Vice-Chancellor; and
    • implementation and follow-up processes;
  • lead discussion on the review report at the Standing Committee meeting when the report is submitted for consideration;
  • present Standing Committee's comments and recommendations to the Academic Board; and
  • participate, if available, in the 12-month implementation process.

8.3 Cognate School Member

The role of the cognate school member is to:

  • advise the school on the rationale underlying a recommendation, if clarification is required; and
  • have a solid grounding in University policy and procedures.

8.4 Roles of the secretariat

8.4.1 The Secretary

The Secretary is a senior member of administrative staff and plays a key role in the preparation for and the conduct of the review. The Secretary:

  • coordinates, collects and organises documentation for the review committee;
  • acts as a resource person for the Chair and members of the review committee, and provides relevant policy and procedural advice;
  • drafts a suitable review timetable in consultation with review committee members;
  • liaises with the review committee members, Executive Dean, Head of School and those being interviewed;
  • facilitates and, where appropriate, undertakes follow-up action arising from review committee meetings; and
  • ensures that recommendations made by the review committee are consistent with University policy and practices and drafted accordingly.

The Secretary is not a member of the review committee, and therefore does not participate in the review committee’s deliberations. During the review, the Secretary reports directly to the review Chair in all matters relating to the review. Normal lines of responsibility and reporting, for example between a Faculty Executive Manager and the Executive Dean, are suspended in matters relating to the review. The Secretary, in consultation with the President, may appoint an Assistant Secretary.

8.4.2 Review Coordinator

The Review Coordinator is appointed by the Academic Registrar and is usually the Assistant Secretary to Academic Board Standing Committee. The role of the Review Coordinator is to:

  • send advice from Academic Board Standing Committee to the Executive Dean and Head of School on the finalised membership, terms of reference and timing of the school review;
  • confirm that members of the review committee, particularly external members, are available to attend the review;
  • arrange travel and accommodation for external members;
  • ensure that external members are provided with relevant information about UQ (including location of UQ in relation to the airport, travel time, currency exchange, pharmacies, etc.)
  • book rooms for the review committee meetings and interviews;
  • be readily available during the review and ensure that adequate documentation and supplies are provided to the review committee Secretary;
  • organise catering;
  • provide place-cards with the names of review committee members on them to facilitate communication during interviews;
  • write to those people who are being invited to make written submissions;
  • receive the school's submission, written submissions from others and distribute these to members of the review committee at the appropriate time;
  • ensure that members’ expenses are reimbursed; and
  • provide other administrative assistance during the review as required.

8.5 Role of Executive Dean

The role of the Executive Dean during the review is to:

  • meet with the review committee on the first day of the review to discuss the faculty's perspectives on the school;
  • meet with the review committee, by request, and in any event at the conclusion of other business each day, in order to discuss the progress of the review and to provide guidance on the drafting of recommendations and commendations;
  • meet with the review committee towards the end of the review to discuss the draft recommendations;
  • attend the initial dinner for the review committee, held on the evening immediately prior to the start of the review; and
  • attend the stakeholder dinner held during the review.

9. Preparation of the School’s Submission

9.1 Preparation

Schools may wish to obtain copies of recent submissions made by other schools to assist them with preparing their documentation.

In the year prior to the review, Heads of School and key staff assisting with the preparation of the school's submission are invited to attend a briefing session by the President on the school review process. A Head of School whose school has recently been reviewed also attends to share their experiences.

Schools normally engage in a detailed strategic planning exercise several months prior to the finalisation of the submission.

9.2 Contents of the school submission

9.2.1 General

The role of the review committee is to review the school in accordance with the approved terms of reference. The submission allows the school to reflect upon and analyse operations in order to optimise future performance. Consequently, the focus of the submission is to identify future directions and strategic intentions for the school.

However, to set the context for the review, it is important to briefly address the school's history and its present circumstances with a focus on factors that have contributed to the current operating environment and potential future outlook of the school.

Excluding the appendices, the submission should be no longer than 100 pages in length. A submission includes:

  • an overview/summary of the submission;
  • the history of the school;
  • the present circumstances of the school;
  • the future plans of the school for improvement and development; and
  • appendices (including the school's strategic and/or operational plan, the school's budget and additional benchmarking data).

9.2.2 The history of the school

The section includes reference to:

  • the origins and histories of the disciplinary groups of the school and the history of their organisational relationships (i.e. the precursors to the current school); amalgamations of disciplines/disciplinary groups;
  • teaching programs with which the school and/or disciplines are most closely associated; management structures and leadership positions established (e.g. Chairs, school executive committees) and the rationale for their creation;
  • major outcomes of the previous review;
  • any factors which might have had an impact since the previous review (e.g. restructures, changes in funding formula, changes in community perceptions, etc); and
  • any other significant changes since the previous review.

9.2.3 The school at present

This section includes a comprehensive analysis of the school’s current status and operations particularly with regard to the school's teaching and learning programs and shorter form credentials, research and staffing. An overview of the school's goals and priorities must be provided with an analysis of the extent to which these goals and priorities are being achieved.

There are three types of data required: (i) core data; (ii) school/discipline-specific data; and (iii) benchmark data. Where possible, data will span at least three and up to five years to enable an assessment of trends.

Core Data

Submissions include an assessment of performance according to the areas covered by the terms of reference. The standard data that are expected, according to each area of the standard terms of reference are in Section 10.

The school provides data in each of the performance areas identified in the terms of reference. Where quantitative data are available, comparable data for other relevant schools within and external to the University, will be supplied.

Performance must also be explicitly linked to University Strategic Plans and operating priorities as well as faculty operational plans. Budget information provided is meant to inform discussion.

School/Discipline-Specific Data

The school decides how best to represent itself and its disciplines in its submission. The submission includes quantitative and qualitative data and provides details about future directions of the school/discipline(s) and how the school is contributing to that direction and/or realigning its activities in keeping with developments.

The school will take the opportunity to present any particular strengths of the school that are not covered by the core performance data; and data on established, nationally/internationally recognised, discipline-specific markers of performance.

Benchmark Data

The school is benchmarked with at least two comparative institutions nationally (Go8), and one internationally (Universitas21). The primary purpose of benchmarking with international institutions is to assist in determining the direction of the discipline and the quality of the scholarship. Benchmarking data are provided for teaching and learning and research.

If it is decided that Go8 and Universitas21 institutions do not provide an adequate basis for comparison, schools provide reasons for such unsuitability, and select another appropriately regarded national or international institution. The school identifies the benchmarking partners early in the preparation process and advises Academic Board Standing Committee when suggestions are submitted to that committee for external reviewers.

Benchmarking is best approached as an ongoing collaborative effort that will develop over time. Schools will attempt to build ongoing relationships with partner institutions beyond the confines of the review process.

9.2.4 The school in the future

This section is the focus of the submission. It describes plans and strategies for the future development and improvement of the school over the next three to five years. It is expected that the school submit a concise operational plan in order to clearly display strategic objectives and goals, and establish key targets.

The review committee will determine a program of action in each of the areas of the terms of reference. The review committee's task is to provide an objective assessment of the school's future directions and strategies and either confirm or recommend changes to those plans.

Therefore, this section articulates goals and courses of action that are tied to:

  • Performance indicated by the data in the section 'The school at present'. Strategies for maintaining excellence and improving identified deficiencies are included. An analysis of the data and an assessment of the school's strengths as well as factors preventing progress is required;
  • Areas of potential growth. The future plans of the school include school-specific strategic priorities. Some of these areas might arise from the benchmarking exercise or involve predictions of future directions of academic disciplines; and
  • Contribution to the faculty's and the University's strategic and operational plans. Include how the school contributes to operationalising these plans.

In each case, consideration will be given to the school’s human, financial and physical resources to enhance performance, to meet the school’s objectives and to achieve its targets. Key performance indicators will be identified clearly, alongside strategic priorities that link appropriately to specified timelines, milestones and resource allocations.

10. Description of Standard Terms of Reference and Performance Indicators

Term of Reference 1 – Governance and Vision

to review the governance, leadership and inclusive decision-making structures in relation to promoting a clear and distinctive vision for the future development of the school

The submission describes:

  • the school’s strategic objectives and processes for monitoring their pursuit and achievement;
  • its governance and management structures;
  • composition and function of the school’s committees; and
  • effectiveness of the governance arrangements in promoting the school’s vision.

Term of Reference 2 - Teaching and Learning

to review the quality, scope, focus, direction and balance of the school's curricula and teaching (including offerings at undergraduate and postgraduate levels and shorter form credentials) in the light of enrolment trends, success rates, student and graduate satisfaction and the perception of key external stakeholders, the accreditation of the programs (as appropriate), the availability of alternative programs elsewhere in Queensland and Australia, and future developments in the discipline/s

The submission describes:

  • current undergraduate and postgraduate coursework program offerings (or major teaching areas and sequence of studies);
  • dual degree programs;
  • shorter form credentials;
  • entry characteristics;
  • graduate outcomes;
  • curriculum review processes;
  • any innovations in curriculum design;
  • the school's workload guidelines;
  • any competition (i.e. identify competitor institutions);
  • professional accreditation issues (where relevant);
  • directions that are emerging with regard to the school’s disciplines;
  • data related to the student experience, graduate outcomes, and learning outcomes; and
  • teaching grants and awards.

Term of Reference 3 - Research and Research Training

to review the research performance of the school including its research activity, research outcomes, including quality and impact, quality of research training, in light of future developments in the discipline/s and other contextual matters

The submission outlines the school's research achievements. Achievements are assessed according to the activity, output and quality of outcomes (impacts) of its research. The submission describes:

  • major topics of research and the breadth of the school’s research activities;
  • qualitative aspects of research (general relevance and importance, potential, etc);
  • impact of research (on a region, industry, practice);
  • external research collaborations;
  • general involvement/collaboration in research centres;
  • research facilities, particularly those utilised by higher degree by research students; and
  • directions that are emerging with regard to the school’s research and the contribution of the school.

Data demonstrates aggregated output and trends over the past three - five years; the levels of activity; the extent to which it is utilising capacity; and the distribution of research load among its academic members.

Term of Reference 4 - Internationalisation

to review the school's strategies in relation to internationalisation of the undergraduate and postgraduate curriculum, increasing international student enrolments and support for international students, student and staff mobility internationally, and international research collaborations

The section addresses the school's internationalisation strategy (including its links to the Faculty and University strategies) and the implementation of that strategy and evidence of the results of that implementation.

The section might address:

  • internationalisation of teaching, learning and research;
  • school support mechanisms for international students;
  • identification and development of strategic alliances;
  • internationalisation of student population (e.g. ensuring diversity of international students and providing opportunity for domestic students to study overseas);
  • staff and student perceptions of the school’s culture of internationalisation (including a regular review of international student support mechanisms to ensure that there are appropriate support services and infrastructure for international students);
  • internationalisation of academic programs as evidenced by:
    • processes in place to expand international perspectives of students (e.g. student exchange actively encouraged and supported); and
    • at least one part of a student’s study program deliberately oriented internationally (e.g. where appropriate, offshore experience included; program includes courses with a specific international perspective).

Term of Reference 5 – Professional and Industry Links

to review the role played by the school in relation to its relevant industries or other stakeholder communities and in service to the profession and the community

The submission outlines the type and scope of the school's links to industry and professional bodies, and describes:

  • ongoing external relationships, and the nature of those relationships (with a focus on those with significant impact for professional practice etc);
  • ongoing industry projects;
  • professional/industry placements undertaken by students in the school's programs and shorter form credentials; any tailored courses/programs/shorter form credentials;
  • staff involvement in continuing professional education;
  • number of staff serving on industry/professional bodies (and type of involvement); financial support from professional or industry bodies (such as scholarships, prizes, bursaries, other benefaction);
  • external members serving on school committees; and
  • involvement in other outside work that benefits the profession, the discipline, the University and the school.

Term of Reference 6 – Alumni and Community Links

to review the effectiveness of the school’s relationship with its alumni and the broader community and its ability to develop support for meeting its future goals

The submission outlines the type and scope of the school's links to its alumni and the community and describes:

  • ongoing alumni and external relationships, and the nature of those relationships (with a focus on those with significant impact for the community);
  • ongoing community projects;
  • staff involvement in community education;
  • number of staff serving on community bodies (and type of involvement);
  • financial support from community bodies (such as scholarships, prizes, bursaries, other benefaction);
  • external members serving on school committees; and
  • involvement in other outside work that benefits the community, the discipline, the University and the school.

Term of Reference 7 - Equity and Diversity

to review the performance of the school in providing equity and diversity in access, employment and learning for staff and both domestic and international students, including the recruitment of students and staff from under-represented groups

Outline the school's equity and diversity initiatives and how they relate to the University's Equity and Diversity Plan. Describe equity and diversity issues in relation to staff and student profiles, teaching and learning processes, and the responses to these issues.

Data required includes:

  • academic and professional staff profile: proportional representation of key equity and diversity groups (i.e. by gender, cultural background) across Levels, and associated promotion rates; and
  • student profile: proportional representation of key equity and diversity groups (i.e. by low SES, gender, cultural background) and associated recruitment and retention rates.

Term of Reference 8 - Organisation and Administration

to review the effectiveness of the organisational and administrative support structures of the school (effective committees, strong academic and professional staff support, efficient and equitable staffing arrangements) in the context of its current functions and anticipated developments

Describe the organisational and administrative support structure including:

  • organisational and administrative support structure;
  • professional staff profile;
  • staff development/career development plans; and
  • staff workload allocation system.

Term of Reference 9 - Resources

to review the financial health of the school and the effectiveness of the school’s use of resources in relation to accommodation, facilities, allocation of teaching/research/equipment funds, internationalisation and potential to generate additional external resources

Describe the physical and financial resources of the school including:

  • school space and equipment inventories;
  • major equipment items;
  • levels of IT infrastructure;
  • asset management plans; and
  • accommodation (the area of the school and the major categories of space utilisation, for example – staff offices, laboratories, etc).

Term of Reference 10 - Faculty and University-wide issues

given that the review is undertaken in the context of the faculty and the University as a whole, other matters germane to the future success of the school.

Academic Registrar Mr Mark Erickson


Review of Schools and Academic Disciplines - Guidelines

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1. Purpose and Objectives

These guidelines enact PPL 1.40.05a Organisational Unit Reviews – Policy and PPL 1.40.06b Review of Schools and Academic Disciplines – Procedures.

2. Definitions, Terms, Acronyms

No entries for this document.

3. Guidelines Scope/Coverage

These guidelines apply to reviews of schools and academic disciplines at The University of Queensland.

4. Guidelines Statement

The following guidelines are provided to review committees to assist in the preparation for, and conduct of, the review:

Section 5.2 (Timeline) provides guidance to schools and review committees on the general timeline of events for the pre-review, review, and post-review phases of the review process.

5. Guidelines

5.1 Review timetable – proposed broad model

Evening preceding review

  • dinner for all members of the review committee, the secretary, and the Executive Dean, to discuss review issues and orient external members to University procedures and protocols

Day 1 - morning

  • welcome by the President of the Academic Board (15 minutes)
  • interviews with the Vice-Chancellor and Provost (30 minutes each)
  • interview with the Executive Dean (30 minutes)
  • interview with the Head of School (60 minutes)

Day 1 - afternoon

  • interviews with academic, general and research staff, representatives of professional and other external bodies, and undergraduate and postgraduate students

Day 2 - morning

  • interviews with DVCs, PVCs, Dean of Graduate School (20 minutes each)
  • interviews with other University staff

Day 2 - afternoon

  • visit to school, inspection of school facilities, informal gathering to meet all school staff

Day 2 - evening

  • stakeholder dinner for all review committee members, Executive Dean, and representatives of industry, government, professional bodies and employer groups

Day 3

  • interviews
  • report writing to commence

Day 4 - morning

  • report writing, outstanding/unscheduled interviews
  • meeting with Executive Dean to discuss draft recommendations
  • meeting with Head of School to discuss draft recommendations

Day 4 - afternoon

  • meeting with President of the Academic Board and Provost over lunch to discuss draft recommendations
  • preparation for presentation to school
  • presentation of draft recommendations to all school staff at the school – all review committee members to be in attendance (60 minutes)
  • finalisation of report in penultimate draft form

The Executive Dean should be available during the review in case the review committee requests to schedule further meetings to discuss specific issues.

5.2 Timeline

12 months prior to School Review


School notified of date of review


Workshop for Heads of School and key administrative staff conducted by President of Academic Board


Academic Board Standing Committee representative on review committee briefs schools’ staff on review process


Two-day Retreat held to discuss the school's Operational Plan and key review issues/priorities (to include address by President of Academic Board)


Detailed minutes from the Retreat used as ongoing reference during preparations


Determine benchmark universities and contact them for data


Check CEQ, AUSSE and SET-C data will be available

10 - 11 months prior to School Review


Check that preparation process is progressing as planned (e.g. consultative committees are meeting)


Head of School to commence meeting with school and outside groups/stakeholders who are likely to be interviewed to discuss relevant issues (e.g. HDR students; Level A staff…)

9 months prior to School Review


Explore in depth key issues for growth or change


Meet with other relevant schools to discuss their submission to the School’s Review

7 months prior to School Review


Head of School prepares review document template and nominates relevant staff to coordinate/write sections of the document


Collection of data for relevant section-coordinator undertaken by administrative staff


Section-coordinators meet with committees/groups to allocate writing of subsections where required


Academic staff to focus research discussions on past strengths and future directions


Data from academic staff (e.g. awards, editorial boards) provided to review document section–coordinators

6 – 2 months prior to School Review


Intensive writing period of the review documents sections


Collating of draft sections by section heads


Draft sections sent to external editor


Overwriting of draft sections by Head of School


Commence final publishing layout of review document


Head of School to commence final writing and editing of review document


Drafts of particular sections sent to Executive Dean for feedback, as required

Week prior to School Review


Head of School to meet with potential interview groups to explain review process and purpose of their meeting with review committee


Plan review committee’s visit to school and tour of facilities


Arrange catering for review committee’s visit to school


Head of School to meet with senior staff to confirm school’s key messages

School Review


Schedule feedback meetings for staff interviewees with Head of School and relevant colleagues


Head of School and School Manager to keep diaries clear for the four days of the review and be ready to assist as required



Review committee to finalise review report within two weeks of the review


Copy of report sent to Head of School for preparation of school’s written response (this is expected to be completed within four weeks of receipt of the report.)


The review report, the school’s response together with comments from the Executive Dean is forwarded to the next meeting of Academic Board Standing Committee (the Head of School and Executive Dean attend the meeting to discuss the review recommendations)


The review report, together with Standing Committee’s comments are submitted to the Academic Board and then submitted to Senate for approval.


Once review report is approved by Senate, the report becomes a public document.


A 12-month implementation report is submitted by the School to Standing Committee 12 months after approval by Senate

5.3 Sample questions

The following list includes areas which might be explored.

1. Curriculum and teaching

  • How successfully does the school cover the major areas of its discipline/s?
  • To what extent do programs meet expressed demand: by students; and by professions?
  • How do programs compare with those of a similar nature throughout the state and Australia in terms of: undergraduate and postgraduate offerings; quality of students enrolling (e.g. OP/rank entry score); and employment of graduates?
  • What procedures does the school have in place for regular review of its programs?
  • What are the findings of previous curriculum review processes?
  • What developments have occurred in the discipline/s during the past seven years?
  • How have these developments been reflected in the programs/courses offered by the school?
  • How does the school's future planning take into account current community needs?
  • To what extent have the new developments been encouraged/supported by the faculty/University?
  • What demands are made on the school for the offering of compulsory courses for specific disciplines?
  • Is the school able to satisfy these demands in an effective manner and, if not, what factors prevent it from doing so?
  • What is the balance of offerings between courses which are compulsory for one or more disciplines and electives?
  • Does the school have appropriate and adequate liaison with schools for which it provides compulsory courses, and with relevant outside bodies?
  • What demands are made by external authorities responsible for the registration and/or recognition of the professional qualifications awarded by the University?
  • What contribution is made to continuing education, professional or otherwise, and how is it rewarded?
  • What attempt is made to meet the intellectual and cultural needs of society?
  • What innovative teaching methods are employed?
  • How does the school promote and reward excellence in teaching?
  • What arrangements does the school have for regular review of all courses?
  • How does the school use such reviews to improve the quality of its courses and its teaching?
  • What teaching and learning facilities are available to students?
  • Is there a sustained pattern of demand for the programs offered by the school?
  • Is there a sustained pattern of demand or lack of demand for any of the courses offered by the school?
  • Are the enrolment patterns consistent with continued viability of the School?
  • Does the school have, or does it need, a program for effective recruitment of students to its programs?
  • What are the career destinations of the school's graduates?
  • What attempts are being made to increase the proportion of postgraduate students in the school?

2. Research

  • What steps are taken to foster honours and postgraduate education and improve the training of researchers at higher degree and postdoctoral levels?
  • Can the school meet the demand for postgraduate supervision?
  • What are the school's recognised areas of research excellence?
  • What evidence is there of national and international recognition of the school's research?
  • What effort is made to emphasize, promote, and fund excellence in research within the school?
  • Do the school's research interests reflect and complement the major areas of its teaching?
  • Are undergraduate students involved in research activities and is the value of research promoted at undergraduate level?
  • Do the research interests of the school provide a range of opportunities for research by postgraduate students?
  • Does the school evaluate research performance by means of an appropriate set of performance indicators and allocate funds for research competitively and on the basis of performance?
  • How does the school's publication record compare with that of cognate schools and with like schools in other institutions?
  • What is the school's level of success in attracting research funding?
  • What external avenues are available to the school to seek additional research support?
  • What proportion of the school's staff are productive researchers?
  • Are non-researchers given other duties?

3. Industry/professional links and community service

  • How is the school involved in service to the University?
  • To what extent does the school cooperate and collaborate with other tertiary education institutions?
  • What steps does the school take to promote public awareness of its activities and their contribution to the social, cultural, and economic development of society?
  • How extensive is staff involvement in academic, professional and service organisations?
  • What links does the school have with alumni, government at all levels, industry, commerce, the professions, and the community generally?
  • To what extent is the school aware of the needs of industry, commerce and the professions?
  • What links has the school established with industry, commerce and the professions to acquire research support?

4. Internationalisation

  • Does the school have, or does it need, a program for effective recruitment of international students to its programs?
  • What attempts are being made to increase the proportion of international students?
  • Does the school have mechanisms to support its international students?

5. Equity and diversity issues

  • Does the school ensure equality of opportunity?
  • What effort is made to encourage the enrolment and access of students from minority and disadvantaged groups?
  • Is there a need to attempt to disturb traditional gender patterns within the area of study?
  • What attempt is made to increase the proportion of women who continue to honours and postgraduate level?

6. Organisational issues

  • Is there an appropriate (i) supply, and (ii) balance of senior/junior staff, academic/general staff in the school to support the school's teaching, research and administrative functions, currently and for planned growth?
  • Does the full complement of academic staff provide the range of expertise necessary to provide effective undergraduate and postgraduate education in the range of courses offered and, in particular, in those courses that are compulsory for some disciplines?
  • Does the school have effective administrative and technical support?
  • Does the school have difficulty recruiting staff and, if so, to what does this appear to be due?
  • Does the school have staff development and training policies in place and working?
  • Are there arrangements for the regular review and appraisal of staff?
  • Are there reward schemes to establish a close relationship between performance, salaries, and other conditions of work?
  • How flexible are salary arrangements and conditions of service within the school?
  • Does the school have a workload document, and actively manage the workload of its staff?
  • What is the role of professors within the school?
  • How does the school create an organisational climate that ensures that academic, professional, technical and administrative staff work together effectively?
  • What is the nature of the school's decision-making processes?
  • How are funds allocated within the school?
  • How effective is communication within the school?
  • How effectively does the school conduct its strategic planning, including regular reviews of its aims and achievements?
  • Does the school set targets and monitor performance?
  • Has the school developed a sound research infrastructure?
  • Are equipment, accommodation and other research facilities adequate?
  • How successful is the school in securing the share of internal funding that it believes necessary or appropriate?
  • How does the school's budget compare with the budgets of other schools in the faculty in relation to size and function?
  • How efficient is the school in using its resources to ensure the fulfilment of its mission?
  • How does the school allocate its funds in relation to programs/courses offered?
  • Does the school review its elective offerings in terms of enrolment and relative costs?
  • What does the school do to attract external support from industry, professions, corporations, and the University's alumni?
  • What attempts, if any, are being made to increase income from full-fee-paying students and continuing professional education?
  • Are the resources to the school adequate to meet its commitments to high quality teaching and research and to allow it to compete for research performance related funds?
  • Does the school encourage entrepreneurial activity?
  • Does the school maximise returns from innovative research and technology transfer?
  • Is the accommodation provided to the school appropriate and adequate for: effective undergraduate and postgraduate teaching; and the research projects of staff and students?
  • Is the accommodation sufficient for: current activities; and planned or anticipated growth?
  • Are teaching and research facilities (e.g., equipment) up to date and in sufficient supply to ensure efficient and effective programs?
  • Does the school have sufficient appropriately qualified technical and administrative staff to support both teaching and research endeavours?
  • Does the administration and organisation of the school allow for the most effective use of the school's teaching and research facilities?

7. Advisory Boards

  • If the school has an advisory board, is it functioning well?
  • If not, how can it be improved (e.g. revised composition/membership, change terms of reference, increase frequency of meetings)?
  • If the school does not have an advisory board, would the school benefit from establishing one?
  • If so, what would the main functions of the advisory board be (e.g. to increase industry engagement, strengthen links with the scientific community, ensure input from employer groups, improve the school's governance structure)?
  • Would the school be able to secure a membership that would ensure the satisfactory functioning of the advisory board, and therefore, be able to meet its objectives?

8. Relationship with Centres and Units

School Centres

  • What centres have been established within the school?
  • What are their goals and objectives?
  • Is/are the centre(s) meeting its/their approved goals and objectives?
  • What proportion of staff and students are directly involved with the centre(s)?
  • What is the financial relationship between the centre(s) and the school?
  • What are the reporting arrangements for the centre(s)?
  • How is/are the centre(s) contributing to the teaching, research and/or service profiles of the school?
  • Are the goals of the centre(s) appropriate for the discipline in the future?
  • Are the goals of the centre(s) appropriate for the school in the future?
  • Should the centre(s) continue?  For what duration?
  • What changes should be made to its/their objectives and operations?

Other Centres (i.e. Faculty Centres, University Centres) and Institutes

  • What is the school’s involvement in other centres and institutes within the University?
  • What proportion of staff and students of the school are directly involved with the centre(s)/institute(s)?
  • How is the school’s involvement with the centre(s) contributing to the school’s teaching, research and/or community service profiles?
  • Should the school make changes in its relationship with the centre(s)?

9. Role of the School

  • Has the school outlined appropriate goals for the future?
  • Is the school able to project a corporate identity or sense of unity?
  • Is the school clear about its priorities and the relative importance of its different activities in achieving its stated objectives?
  • Has the school established realistic targets for student recruitment to its courses and the output of graduates and postgraduates?
  • Has the school established appropriate directions and targets for its research and research output?
  • What is the national and international standing of the school in relation to similar schools within the Queensland and nationally?
  • Should the school continue in its present form; should any changes be made to its present structure?
Academic Registrar Mr Mark Erickson


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Review of Schools and Academic Disciplines Report Template - Form

Review of Schools and Academic Disciplines Report Template - Form

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This Report Template is to be used by School and Academic Discipline Review Committees.



Academic Registrar Mr Mark Erickson
Academic Registrar Mr Mark Erickson
Academic Registrar Mr Mark Erickson