Review of University Institutes and Centres - Procedures

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1. Purpose and Objectives

These procedures enact PPL 1.40.05a Organisational Unit Reviews – Policy [3].

2. Definitions, Terms, Acronyms

ABSC – Academic Board Standing Committee (also known as Standing Committee)

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

Supervisor – the senior manager to whom the Director of the Institute or Centre is responsible, as follows:

  • Executive Dean
  • Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research)
  • Provost

Unit – a generic term encompassing, in this instance, University Institutes and University Centres.

3. Procedures Scope/Coverage

These procedures apply to the review of University Institutes and Centres at The University of Queensland. The Institute for Teaching and Learning Innovation (ITaLI), the Institute of Continuing and TESOL [6] Education (ICTE), the Institute of Modern Languages (IML) and the Centre for Integrated Resource Management (CIRM) are not within the scope of these procedures.

4. Procedures Statement

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

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

The review committee's task is to provide an objective view of the Unit’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 Units to embrace significant change and development.

5. Procedures

5.1 Scheduling the review

Each year ABSC prepares a tentative schedule for reviews to be held in the next seven years, and in consultation with the Units’ supervisors, and subject to approval by the Vice-Chancellor’s Committee, prepares the review timetable for a particular year no later than the end of first semester in the preceding year to give Units adequate time to plan for the review including preparing the Unit’s submission.

In each case, the Director of the Unit and their supervisor identify a range of dates for the review. Invitations to join the review committee are sent out by the President as early as possible in order to give the Unit maximum notice of the exact timing of the review. Once availability is established, the final dates for the reviews are determined.

The normal duration of a review will be three days. In some cases, a longer (maximum five-day) review may be appropriate. This should be decided, in consultation with the Unit’s supervisor or at the instance of the Director of the Unit (supported by the supervisor), 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 Unit and/or the review committee to particular matters of special importance in relation to the Unit’s performance or its future.

5.2 Composition and membership of review committees

Proposed membership of a review committee is presented to the President by the Director of the Unit via their supervisor. Following consideration by the ABSC, the President and Director present the proposed membership to a meeting of the Vice-Chancellor's Committee for advice. The membership of the committee is then confirmed by ABSC. It is important, in considering membership, to avoid conflicts of interest, perceived or potential. Significant collaboration with the Unit or with its individual members or research groups would normally be disqualifying.

The composition of a review committee is:

University Institutes:

  • three external members with nationally/internationally recognised expertise and knowledge in the area of the institute, one of whom will normally be from an international institution;
  • a member of ABSC, or equivalent; and
  • a senior researcher from a cognate Institute, nominated by the Provost.

University Centres:

  • two to three external members (depending on the size of the centre) with nationally/internationally-recognised expertise and knowledge in the area of the centre, one of whom will normally be from an international institution;
  • a member of ABSC not closely associated with the Centre, or equivalent;
  • an Associate Dean, Research, from a relevant faculty; and
  • a Director/senior researcher from a cognate centre.

On the recommendation of the President and subject to approval by the Vice-Chancellor’s Committee, ABSC 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 overall membership of a review committee provides as broad a coverage as possible of the major research areas of the Unit.

Where it is relevant to the core functions of the Unit, one of the external members should have strong industry links.

A Deputy Director (Operations) or equivalent from a cognate institute or centre normally serves as the secretary to the review committee.

5.3 Terms of reference

Standard terms of reference for the review of a University Institute or Centre are provided, for guidance, at Section 10 below.

The terms of reference for the review provide the framework in which the Unit, through its “self-assessment”, and the review panel, through its enquiries, can analyse the Unit’s performance and plans in relation to appropriate and attainable future objectives. Accordingly, the standard terms of reference are guidelines and suggestions for modification may be made, in advance of the development by the Unit of review documentation, on the initiative of the Vice-Chancellor’s Committee or the Unit Director’s supervisor, or the Director of the Unit (with the approval of their supervisor) in order to direct the attention of the Unit and/or the review committee to particular matters of special importance in relation to the Unit’s performance or its future. It will be relevant to how the terms of reference are framed whether the Unit 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 external stakeholder.

Proposed final terms of reference are presented by the Director of the Unit via their supervisor to the President. Following consideration by the ABSC, the President and the Director present the proposed terms of reference to a meeting of the Vice-Chancellor’s Committee. The terms of reference are then confirmed by ABSC.

Where the Unit is also subject to major external review, e.g. by government, the Academic Board review will have access to the outcomes of the external review and will focus its attention on those terms of reference not addressed by the external review.

5.4 Review process

5.4.1 Pre-review process

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

Units 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 Director and other senior members of the Unit attend a workshop presented by the President. Units are encouraged to begin self-assessment exercises at this time.

The ABSC member briefs the Unit’s staff on the review procedure at an open meeting approximately six months prior to the review. Before the visit, the Director of the Unit:

  • issues an invitation to all Unit staff, including academic and professional staff, to attend the briefing; and
  • briefs the ABSC member on any recent developments in the Unit.

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

The Unit 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 Unit submission will also be made available, upon request and at the discretion of the Director of the Unit, to individual University staff members and persons external to the University.

The President invites interested parties (including all Unit staff and students) to make written submissions 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 Unit; 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 [7]), identifying details will be removed from their submission prior to release.

The ABSC representative and internal members 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 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 1.40.08c Review of University Institutes and Centres – Guidelines [7].

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 further discussion with those already interviewed, if required.

Notwithstanding, the review timetable should ensure that adequate opportunity is provided in the early part of the review week for all sections of the Unit - 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 should be arranged. There will also be an opportunity to hold informal discussions with employer and other professional groups 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 first or second day of the review. Members of the review committee and the supervisor will attend. Representatives of industry, government, professional bodies, and employer groups, as well as alumni will be considered as relevant to Unit’s activities in research, learning, and engagement.

A draft invitation list must be prepared well in advance by the Director of the Unit for consideration by the supervisor and the President, who will vet it to ensure that those attending from the community will be able to offer insight into the Unit’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 Unit'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 Unit 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 Unit. The first day also includes interviews with the supervisor and Director of the Unit about the issues in relation to the Unit under review and the strategic directions.

The second day of the review will include interviews with the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous Engagement) other Deputy Vice-Chancellors as relevant, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (if relevant) and Dean of the UQ Graduate School.

5.4.6 Committee deliberations

The review committee considers the submission prepared by the Unit, 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 Unit submission and interviews with the Senior Executive officers, the committee should determine whether there are additional questions to be asked relevant to the review so that the terms of reference are addressed fully. The committee should 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 Unit, etc.).

A sample of questions that the review committee might consider is available in PPL 1.40.08c Review of University Institutes and Centres – Guidelines [7].

5.4.7 Visits to facilities

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

Where Units are multi-sited, the use of technologies such as teleconferencing should 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 should 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 committee members from the University.

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

In formulating its recommendations, the review committee should take account of the resource constraints facing 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 should be made to ensure that statements in the report are factually correct. Recommendations should not be directed toward senior officers of the University or to the University itself. They must be directed toward the Director of the Unit so that it is clear how the Unit should proceed.

A case, supported by facts and evidence, is to be made for all review recommendations, 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 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 1.40.08d1 Review of University Institutes and Centres Report Template [8].

Appendix 1 to the review report should contain a list of names of all individuals who made written submissions to the review and Appendix 2 will list 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 Director of the Unit meets with the review committee so that the Director has the opportunity to respond to the recommendations before they are made public; at the same time, the Director should 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 day of the review.

The draft final recommendations are presented to a full meeting of the Unit on the last 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 Unit staff are likely to be anxious to receive the report at the culmination of a possibly stressful week. The Chair needs to ensure that the Unit 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 ABSC member will take the opportunity to inform the Unit staff about the process subsequent to the departure of the review team; touching on the time-frame for completion of the report; opportunity for the Unit’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 should attend the Unit presentation and, wherever possible, visual aids should 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:

  • members of the Senior Executive;
  • the relevant supervisor;
  • the Director of the Unit;
  • members of the Unit reviewed; and
  • members of ABSC.

ABSC will request an initial post-review response immediately after the review, which the Director of the Unit 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 supervisor, to both:

  • ABSC; 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 Director'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 Director of the Unit and the supervisor, 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 Unit’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 Unit and to the Senate for noting.

7. Implementation

The Director and their supervisor are responsible for implementation of the adopted recommendations.

ABSC is responsible for monitoring the implementation.

7.1 12-month and three-year implementation reports

The Director of the Unit and their supervisor must prepare an implementation report on progress made on all of the recommendations, to be submitted to the President within 12 months of the Vice-Chancellor’s approval of the review 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 more effectively the extent to which review recommendations have been implemented. Standing Committee, augmented by the Provost will meet with the Director of the Unit and their supervisor 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 the Director of the Unit 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 via email with the President) or if this is possible, during a preliminary visit to the campus;
  • liaise with the Secretary prior to the review week, to finalise the review week 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 Director, Provost/Executive Dean, President, and all Unit 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 ABSC representative

The role of the ABSC 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 Unit 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;
    • the proposed recommendations are directed to the Unit, rather than to a senior officer of the University; and
    • the report's contents are factually correct;
  • accompany the review committee to the Unit on the afternoon of the final day to present the draft recommendations;
  • after the Chair has presented the draft recommendations, inform the Unit about the process following the departure of the review committee, including the:
    • time-frame for completion of the report;
    • opportunity for the Unit to consider the report and respond to it;
    • deliberative process at ABSC;
    • 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, and presenting Standing Committee's comments and recommendations to the Academic Board; and
  • participate, if available, in the 12-month implementation process.


8.3 Director/Senior Researcher from a cognate centre

[only for reviews of University Centres]

The role of the Director/Senior Researcher from a cognate centre is to:

  • have a sound knowledge of University policy and procedures;
  • provide perspectives on the centre’s performance based on comparisons with own unit; and
  • advise the Unit on the rationale underlying a recommendation, if clarification is required.


8.4 Associate Dean (Research)

[only for reviews of University Centres]

The role of the Associate Dean (Research) is to provide advice on:

  • Faculty’s strategic plan and objectives as they relate to the centre;
  • academic organisational structure and resource allocation processes to the centre; and
  • other issues specific to the centre under review.


8.5 Senior Researcher from a cognate institute

[only for reviews of Institutes]

The role of the Senior Researcher from a cognate institute is to:

  • provide perspectives on the institute’s research activities based on experience with comparable associated issues (e.g. research impact, resources, external links, research training).


8.6 Roles of the secretariat

8.6.1 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;
  • provides relevant policy and procedural advice;
  • drafts a suitable review week timetable in consultation with committee members;
  • liaises with the committee members, Provost/Executive Dean, Director of the Unit 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. The Secretary, in consultation with the President, may appoint an Assistant Secretary.

8.6.2 Review Coordinator

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

  • send advice from ABSC to the Director of the Unit and their supervisor on the finalised composition, terms of reference and timing of the review;
  • confirm that members of the review committee, particularly external members, are available to attend the review week;
  • 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 period 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 Unit’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.


9. Preparation of Unit’s Submission

9.1 Preparation

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

In the year prior to the review, Directors of Units and key staff assisting with the preparation of the submission are invited to attend a briefing session by the President on the Unit review process. A Head of School or Director of a Unit whose school or Unit has recently been reviewed also attends to speak about their experiences.

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

9.2 Contents of the Unit submission

9.2.1 General

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

However, to set the context for the review, it is important to briefly address the Unit’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 Unit.

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 Unit;
  • the present circumstances of the Unit, with particular emphasis on its research quality and impact;
  • the future plans of the Unit for improvement and development; and
  • appendices (including the Unit’s strategic and/or operational plan, the Unit’s budget and additional benchmarking data).

9.2.2 The history of the Unit

The section includes reference to:

  • the origins and histories of the disciplinary groups of the Unit and the history of their organisational relationships (i.e. the precursors to the current Unit);
  • management structures and leadership positions (e.g. Unit board and advisory committees, Unit executive committees) established and the rationale for their creation;
  • major outcomes of any previous review;
  • any factors which might have had an impact since the previous review (e.g. restructures, changes in funding, changes in University priorities, etc); and
  • any other significant changes since the previous review.

9.2.3 The Unit at present

This section includes a comprehensive analysis of the Unit’s current status particularly with regard to research outcomes and impact. An overview of the Unit’s current goals and priorities should 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) Unit-specific data; and (iii) benchmark data. Where possible, data should span at least three, and up to five, years to enable an assessment of trends.

Core Data

The eleven terms of reference for Unit reviews cover those aspects of a Unit’s operations that are common to all Units within the University.

Submissions should 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 data for Terms 5 (Discovery), 6 (Resources), 7 (Education), 9 (Organisational Structure) and 11 (Equity and Diversity) can be obtained through the creation of reports developed by Planning and Business Intelligence. The reports are available through the Planning and Business Intelligence ‘Data Collections’ webpage: [9] or by contacting Planning and Business Intelligence: [10] 

Where quantitative data are available, comparable data for other relevant Units within the University should be supplied.

Performance should also be explicitly linked to University Strategic Plans and operating priorities. Budget information provided is meant to inform discussion.

Unit-Specific Data

The Unit should take the opportunity to present any particular strengths that are not covered by the core performance data; and ideally, assess those strengths against key performance indicators established by the Unit or against nationally/internationally-recognised discipline-specific markers of performance.

Benchmark Data

Benchmarking data are provided for Discovery.  The primary purpose of benchmarking with international institutions is to assist in determining the direction of the discipline and the quality of the scholarship.  However, it is recognised that Units vary in structure and emphasis of research such that benchmarking against any Unit may be neither useful nor informative.

Where a comparable Unit does not exist, benchmarking of researchers/research groups against high quality researchers/groups nationally and internationally should be undertaken.

9.2.4 The Unit in the future

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

  • An analysis of current performance and an assessment of the Unit’s strengths as well as factors preventing progress;
  • Areas of potential growth. The future plans of the Unit include specific strategic priorities. Some of these areas might arise from the benchmarking exercise or involve predictions of future directions of areas of research; and
  • Contribution to the University’s strategic and operational plans. Include how the Unit contributes to operationalising these plans.

In each case, consideration should be given to the Unit’s human, financial and physical resources to enhance performance, to meet the Unit’s objectives and to achieve its targets. Key performance indicators should be identified clearly, alongside strategic priorities that link appropriately to specified timelines, milestones and resource allocations.  For institutes, these may have been developed in the Institute-Based Performance Framework.

10. Description of Standard Terms of Reference and Performance Indicators

1. Term of Reference 1 – Purpose and Goals

to review the purpose, goals and priorities of the Unit and to assess whether those goals are appropriate in relation to the University’s strategic aims

The submission should outline the Unit’s objectives, how they are to be achieved, and if they have changed since the Unit’s establishment. The submission should describe:

  • clarification of purpose;
  • goals for the future; and
  • corporate identity or sense of unity.

2. Term of Reference 2 – Assessment of Activities

to review the scope, focus and balance of the Unit’s activities in the light of trends in the fields and the performance of comparable institutes/groups/individuals elsewhere

The submission should outline the Unit’s performance in its activities and describe its national and international standing.

3. Term of Reference 3 – Role within the University

to review the role of the Unit in the University

The submission should describe the role of the Unit in terms of meeting the University’s strategic objectives in learning, discovery and engagement as expressed in the current University of Queensland Strategic Plan.

4. Term of Reference 4 – Governance and Management

to review the appropriateness of the Unit’s governance and management

The submission should outline the Unit’s governance and management structures and describe:

  • the composition and function of the Unit’s committees;
  • how well the committee structure serves the Unit’s mission;
  • effectiveness of governing arrangements; and
  • mechanisms within the Unit for inclusive decision-making and effective communication.

5. Term of Reference 5 – Discovery

to evaluate the research performance of the Unit, including its success in attracting external funds, the extent, quality and impact of its publications, its external impact, success in attracting and training research students and success in attracting overseas researchers and visitors

The submission should outline achievements in research. Broadly, achievements will be assessed according to the activity, output and quality of outcomes (impact) of research. The submission should describe:

  • fields of research and emerging directions;
  • success in attracting research funding;
  • impact of research in terms of publications;
  • impact of research in terms of commercialisation and industry take up;
  • success in establishing a HDR program; and
  • success in establishing external networks and research collaborations.

Benchmarking should be undertaken against at least two Australian and one international institution. In selecting appropriate institutions for the benchmarking exercise, it is important to consider the context in which the unit operates and to define units of comparable scale and breadth of discipline.

In presenting core performance indicators and other selected measures of performance, the Unit should demonstrate its aggregated output as well as trends over the most recent three to five years, the levels of activity, the extent to which it is utilising capacity, and the distribution of research load among its academic members.

1.     Research grants held by staff

  • total number and average number per FTE academic staff; and
  • total value and average value of grants per FTE academic staff.

2.     Total research income generated (capturing all income defined as ‘research’ in the DEEWR [11] Higher Education Research Data Collection (HERDC), including consultancy research)

  • analysis by source (e.g. Australian competitive schemes, other public sector, industry funding).

3.     Research publications

  • DEEWR [11] category publications (e.g. research monographs, chapters, journal articles, conference papers, designs, creative works, patents);
  • Excellence in Research (ERA) category publications (extracted from the University’s repository, eSpace):
    • books – authored research
    • chapters in research books
    • journal articles – refereed, scholarly journal
    • conference publications – full paper refereed
    • non-traditional research outputs;
  • number of papers in journals that are recognised as the most important in the discipline; and
  • impact factors of journals or other relevant indicators of quality.

4.     Higher degree by research (HDR) program

  • number and mix of HDR candidates (PhD vs MPhil, annual commencement rates);
  • Advisory load.  Average FTE principal and advisory load per FTE academic;
  • Additional advisory load.  Candidature committee load per FTE academic;
  • total and annual rate of HDR candidate completions; and
  • success of HDR candidates in attracting scholarships.

Additional Indicators

There are a large number of other measures that might be presented as relevant indicators of research output, activity or quality. Not all indicators will be relevant to all Units; measures that should be selected will serve to inform the extent to which the Unit is meeting its strategic objectives and will be relevant to its discipline. For example:

1.     Levels of activity

  • proportion of staff holding active research grants;
  • proportion of staff generating publications in a year;
  • proportion of staff supervising HDR candidates; and
  • number of staff receiving research prizes and/or delivering keynote addresses.

2.     Average value of research grants

  • analysed by granting scheme or source of income;
  • proportion of grants involving co-investigators from other units;
  • proportion of grants involving co-investigators from other institutions; and
  • success rates in large competitive schemes (ARC [12], NHMRC [13]).

3.     Research publications

  • other categories of publications recognised in the extended UQ data set;
  • proportion of publications involving co-authors from other units;
  • proportion of publications involving co-authors from other institutions;
  • comparative citation analyses (note:  citation databases have limitations – comparative analyses based on the total output of different institutions will be most relevant when the Unit’s publications can be identified in terms of the citation database’s own classification system); and
  • number of commissioned or contracted reports.

4.     HDR output

  • number of HDR candidates on the Dean’s Commendation List;
  • number of publications involving HDR candidates as co-authors;
  • number of HDR candidates receiving awards and prizes; and
  • number of HDR candidates receiving prestigious scholarships.

5.     Other

  • involvement in National Research Centres, CRCs, Centres of Excellence;
  • patents generated by staff;
  • involvement in spin-off companies;
  • externally-funded research and postdoctoral fellows; and
  • adjunct and honorary research staff.

6. Term of Reference 6 – Resources

to consider the effective use of resources available to the Unit for implementation of current programs and proposed developments; to comment on the Unit’s accommodation and facilities; and to evaluate the potential of the Unit to attract additional external resources

The submission should describe the Unit’s physical, financial and human resources in the context of its organisational and management structure and should include:

  • space and equipment inventories;
  • major equipment items;
  • level of IT infrastructure and support;
  • asset management plans; and
  • accommodation (the area of the Unit and the major categories of space utilisation e.g. staff offices, laboratories, etc.).

The following data should be included:

  • Unit’s budget for past three to five years;
  • Unit’s projected budget for next three years;
  • breakdown of funding sources;
  • salaries as % of revenue; and
  • EFTSL/FTE staff for previous five years.

7. Term of Reference 7 - Education

to review the quality and extent of the Unit’s involvement in teaching at (including offerings undergraduate and postgraduate levels and shorter form credentials)

The submission should outline achievements in teaching and describe:

  • directions emerging with regard to teaching involvement; and
  • quality assurance processes.

The submission should provide data as follows (and where relevant, over the past three to five years):

Core Data  *

  • postgraduate coursework load, by program/shorter form credential, including domestic and international student EFTSL; and
  • number of staff engaged in teaching and learning activities.

* select appropriate indicators for benchmarking exercise.

8. Term of Reference 8 – Links with other University Units

to consider the present and future relationships of teaching and research programs between the Unit and other centres and schools in the University

The submission should outline relationships with other units within the University, the nature of those links, future developments with current partners, and potential for securing links with new units.

9. Term of Reference 9 – Organisational Structure

to review the organisational structure of the Unit in the context of its research and other functions and to consider whether its internal administration, support structures and staffing arrangements will serve the Unit and the University adequately in the future

The submission should outline the Unit’s organisational structure, describing the following:

  • organisational and administrative support structure;
  • staff profile;
  • staff development/career development plans;
  • staff workload allocation system; and
  • human resource planning including the age of staff and anticipated retirements.

10. Term of Reference 10 – Engagement

to review the Unit’s academic collaborations and the role played by the Unit in relation to its partnerships with other UQ units, and with relevant stakeholders, industries, and in service to the profession and the community

The submission should describe the nature and extent of academic collaborations with other UQ units and with research institutions, both nationally and internationally; and strategies developed to enhance and provide direction for future engagement.

The submission should outline the type and scope of its links to industry, professional bodies and the community and describe:

  • internal relationships, whether of individual staff or on a Unit to Unit basis, with special reference to those collaborations which lead to joint arrangements, as with grants, supervision of HDR students, and the like;
  • external relationships, and the nature of those relationships (with a focus on those with significant impact for the community, professional practice, etc.);
  • community/industry projects;
  • staff involvement in community education;
  • staff involvement in continuing professional education;
  • number of staff serving on community/industry/professional bodies (and type of involvement);
  • financial support from professional or industry bodies (e.g. scholarships, prizes, bursaries);
  • external members serving on Unit’s committees; and
  • involvement in other outside work that benefits the community, the profession or discipline, the University or the Unit.

11. Term of Reference 11 – Equity and Diversity 

to consider the performance of the Unit in equity and diversity issues and the procedures to maintain or enhance it

The submission should outline the Unit’s equity and diversity initiatives, how they relate to the University's Equity and Diversity Plan and other initiatives such as the Athena Swan project, and provide advice on the implementation outcomes for those initiatives. Describe equity and diversity issues in relation to the staff and student profile, and responses to those issues. Consideration should also be given to how fields of research and emerging directions, and impact of research, contribute to meeting equity needs in society.

Submissions should include a complete list of staff including brief profiles and any comments as relevant, as well as data in the following areas (and where relevant, over the past three to five years):

Core Data

  • balance in staffing profile – total proportions of female, culturally and linguistically diverse, and Indigenous staff, proportions and promotion rate by level (academic staff), and staff category (professional, academic, etc.); and
  • student equity groups – proportion of students in key equity groups, and retention rates.


Academic Registrar


Review of University Institutes and Centres - Guidelines

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1. Purpose and Objectives

These procedures enact PPL 1.40.05a Organisational Unit Reviews – Policy and PPL 1.40.08b Review of University Institutes and Centres – Procedures.

2. Definitions, Terms, Acronyms

No entries for this document.

3. Guidelines Scope/Coverage

These procedures apply to the review of University Institutes and Centres 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 institutes/centres 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 week – proposed broad model

Sunday evening

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

Monday morning

  • welcome by the President of the Academic Board (15 minutes)
  • interviews with the Vice-Chancellor and Provost (30 minutes each)
  • interview with relevant Executive Dean/s about the procedures and protocols of the University, including its academic organisational structure and resource allocation processes (30 minutes)
  • interview with the Director of the Institute/Centre (60 minutes)

Monday afternoon

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

Tuesday morning

  • interviews with Deputy Vice-Chancellors, Pro Vice-Chancellor (where relevant), Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous Engagement), and the Dean of the UQ Graduate School (20 minutes each)

Tuesday afternoon

  • visit to institute/centre, inspection of institute/centre facilities, informal gathering to meet all institute/centre staff
  • report writing

Tuesday evening

  • stakeholder dinner in the evening for all review committee members and representatives of professional bodies and employer groups

Wednesday morning

  • report writing
  • meeting with Director to discuss draft recommendations (60 minutes)
  • meeting with Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research)/Executive Dean to discuss draft recommendations

Wednesday afternoon

  • meeting with President of the Academic Board and Provost at lunch to discuss draft recommendations
  • preparation for presentation to institute/centre
  • presentation of draft recommendations to all staff at the institute/centre - all review committee members to attend (60 minutes)
  • finalisation of report in penultimate draft form


5.2 Timeline

12 months prior to Institute/Centre Review


Institute/Centre notified of date of review


Workshop for Directors of Institutes/Centres and key administrative staff conducted by President of Academic Board


Academic Board Standing Committee representative on review committee briefs institute’s/centre’s staff on review process


Two-day Retreat held to discuss the institute’s/centre’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 Institute/Centre Review


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


Director to commence meeting with institute/centre staff 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 Institute/Centre Review


Explore in-depth key issues for growth or change


Meet with other relevant institutes/centres to discuss their submissions to the Institute’s/Centre’s Review

7 months prior to Institute/Centre Review


Director prepares the Institute’s/Centre’s review submission 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 submission section–coordinators

6 – 2 months prior to Institute/Centre Review


Drafting of the sections of the review submission


Collating of draft sections by section heads


Draft sections sent to external editor


Overwriting of draft sections by Director of Institute/Centre


Commence final publishing layout of review submission


Director to commence final writing and editing of review submission


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

Week prior to Institute/Centre Review


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


Plan review committee’s visit to institute/centre and tour of facilities


Arrange catering for review committee’s visit to institute/centre


Director to meet with senior staff to confirm institute’s/centre’s key messages

Week of the Institute/Centre Review


Schedule feedback meetings for staff interviewees with Director and relevant colleagues


Director and Institute/Centre Manager to keep diaries clear for the week and be ready to assist as required



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


Copy of report sent to Director for preparation of institute’s/centre’s written response (this is expected to be completed within four weeks of receipt of the report)


The review report, the institute’s/centre’s response together with comments from the Provost/Executive Dean is forwarded to the next meeting of Academic Board Standing Committee (the Director and Provost/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 required for all reviews (submitted to Standing Committee 12 months after Senate approval of the review report)



5.3 Sample questions

The following list includes areas which might be explored.

1. Discovery

  • What steps are taken to foster honours and postgraduate education and improve the training of researchers at higher degree and postdoctoral levels?
  • Can the institute/centre meet the demand for postgraduate supervision?
  • What are the institute’s/centre's recognised areas of research excellence?
  • What evidence is there of national and international recognition of the institute’s/centre's research?
  • What effort is made to emphasise, promote, and fund excellence in research within the institute/centre?
  • Are undergraduate students involved in research activities and is the value of research promoted at undergraduate level?
  • Do the research interests of the institute/centre provide a range of opportunities for research by postgraduate students?
  • Does the institute/centre 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 institute’s/centre's publication record compare with that of like institutes/centres in other institutions?
  • What is the institute’s/centre's level of success in attracting research funding?
  • What external avenues are available to the institute/centre to seek additional research support?

2. Education

  • What developments have occurred in the discipline/s during the past seven years?
  • How have these developments been reflected in the courses taught by the institute/centre?
  • How does the institute’s/centre’s future planning take into account current community needs?
  • To what extent have the new developments been encouraged/supported by the faculty/University?
  • Does the institute/centre have appropriate and adequate liaison with schools for which it provides teaching, and with relevant outside bodies?
  • 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?
  • What teaching and learning facilities are available to students?
  • Is there a sustained pattern of demand or lack of demand for any of the courses taught by the institute/centre?
  • What are the career destinations of the institute’s/centre’s graduates?
  • What attempts are being made to increase the number of postgraduate students in the institute/centre?

3. Engagement

  • How is the institute/centre involved in service to the University?
  • To what extent does the institute/centre cooperate and collaborate with other tertiary education institutions?
  • What steps does the institute/centre 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 institute/centre have with alumni, government at all levels, industry, commerce, the professions, and the community generally?
  • To what extent is the institute/centre aware of the needs of industry, commerce and the professions?
  • What links has the institute/centre established with industry, commerce and the professions to acquire research support?

4. Internationalisation

  • Does the institute/centre have, or does it need, a program for effective recruitment of international students?
  • What attempts are being made to increase the proportion of international students?
  • Does the institute/centre have mechanisms to support its international students?
  • Does the institute/centre have research collaborations/links with international institutions?

5. Equity and diversity issues

  • Does the institute/centre 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 change traditional gender patterns within the area of study?

6. Organisational issues

  • Is there an appropriate (i) supply, and (ii) balance of senior/junior staff, academic/professional staff in the institute/centre to support teaching, research and administrative functions, currently and for planned growth?
  • Does the institute/centre have effective administrative and technical support?
  • Does the institute/centre have difficulty recruiting staff and, if so, to what does this appear to be due?
  • Does the institute/centre 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 institute/centre?
  • Does the institute/centre have a workload document, and actively manage the workload of its staff?
  • What is the role of professors within the institute/centre?
  • How does the institute/centre create an organisational climate that ensures that academic, professional, technical and administrative staff work together effectively?
  • What is the nature of the institute’s/centre’s decision-making processes?
  • How are funds allocated within the institute/centre?
  • How effective is communication within the institute/centre?
  • How effectively does the institute/centre conduct its strategic planning, including regular reviews of its aims and achievements?
  • Does the institute/centre set targets and monitor performance?
  • Has the institute/centre developed a sound research infrastructure?
  • Are equipment, accommodation and other research facilities adequate?
  • How successful is the institute/centre in securing the share of internal funding that it believes necessary or appropriate?
  • How does the institute’s/centre's budget compare with the budgets of other institutes/centres in the University/faculty in relation to size and function?
  • How efficient is the institute/centre in using its resources to ensure the fulfilment of its mission?
  • What does the institute/centre 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 continuing professional education?
  • Are the resources to the institute/centre adequate to meet its commitments to high quality research and to allow it to compete for research performance related funds?
  • Does the institute/centre encourage entrepreneurial activity?
  • Does the institute/centre maximise returns from innovative research and technology transfer?
  • Is the accommodation provided to the institute/centre appropriate and adequate for the research projects of staff and students?
  • Is the accommodation sufficient for current activities, and planned or anticipated growth?
  • Are research facilities (e.g. equipment) up-to-date and in sufficient supply?
  • Does the institute/centre have sufficient appropriately qualified technical and administrative staff to support research endeavours?
  • Does the administration and organisation of the institute/centre allow for the most effective use of the research facilities?

7. Advisory boards

  • If the institute/centre has an advisory board, is it functioning well?
  • If not, how can it be improved (e.g. review composition/membership, change terms of reference, increase frequency of meetings)?
  • If the institute/centre does not have an advisory board, would it 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 units' governance structure)?
  • Would the institute/centre 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 other Institutes/Centres

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

9. Role of the Institute/Centre

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


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Review of University Institutes and Centres Report Template - Form

Review of University Institutes and Centres Report Template - Form

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This Report Template is to be used by University Institute and Centre Review Committees.

Academic Registrar
Academic Registrar
Academic Registrar