The UQ AUQA Quality Audit Report
On 22 July 2009, the final report of the cycle 2 AUQA audit of The University of Queensland was released to the media and published on the AUQA website.
The audit report delivers a strong endorsement by AUQA of UQ’s commitment to and support for excellence in teaching and learning across the University. The leadership, professionalism, delivery and high profile of teaching and learning at UQ is acknowledged. Overall, the report reflects very well on UQ staff, students and graduates.
Among the 13 commendations are endorsements of the University’s academic quality assurance system, including the ongoing school and program review processes, the new School-based Performance Framework and Curriculum and Teaching Quality Appraisal process. The report also commends the close academic relationships between research institutes and schools, the collaborative learning spaces, UQ’s increasing engagement with communities at Ipswich, and the ongoing attention to assessment issues.
The report includes 8 affirmations, which acknowledge areas that the University has already identified for attention. These support the implementation of new benchmarking agreements, the University’s intention to focus on the internationalisation of curriculum, the forthcoming review of the Enterprise Risk Assessment and Management Plan and the 2009 review of graduate attributes.
AUQA’s 6 recommendations for action by UQ relate to the interrogation and collection of data, increased support for those new to teaching, clarification of teaching-focused academic positions, expansion of current teaching evaluation mechanisms (TEVALs), inclusion of Indigenous perspectives in relevant programs, and increased attention to practices regarding plagiarism. The University has already begun to address these recommendations. The recommendation relating to plagiarism, in particular, will be addressed in a very focused and comprehensive manner, with the goal of having strengthened processes in place by the beginning of 2010 to both reduce the incidence of plagiarism and deal effectively with its occurrence in all teaching programs.
The University is expected to take whatever actions are necessary in relation to the audit findings, recommendations and affirmations documented in the final report. In this respect, UQ will provide a progress report to AUQA outlining action taken to address recommendations and affirmations within 12 months of the release of the of the final audit report. The progress report will be posted on the UQ website, and will also be accessed via a link from the AUQA website.
The contribution of UQ staff and students to the audit is greatly appreciated. The Audit Panel has specifically conveyed its appreciation of the willing and open manner in which the University community participated in the Audit process.
Background to the AUQA Audit
Audit processes for cycle 2
The 2009 AUQA audit evaluated whether the University had met its defined purpose, as specified in its Strategic Plan. AUQA’s ‘Fitness for Purpose’ and ‘Fitness of Purpose’ approach provides for universities to assess processes (policies and procedures) and measure outcomes (standards and benchmarking) to show that they are meeting their stated objectives.
The purpose of the cycle 2 audit was to:
- assess UQ’s performance against stated objectives
- test and validate the effectiveness of UQ’s quality processes in achieving strategic objectives;
- review procedures in place to monitor and achieve those objectives; and
- assess the extent to which UQ’s quality assurance processes and outcomes meet best practice.
The audit team undertook an in-depth audit of UQ's two nominated theme areas:
- Quality of Teaching; and
- Academic QA: Curriculum and Assessment.
In conducting the cycle 2 audit, AUQA:
- looked for clarity, transparency and comprehensiveness of processes and policies in each theme;
- evaluated performance outcomes over past 3 years against institutional objectives and targets;
- evaluated performance outcomes in relation to national and international academic standards
- what is the ‘level of achievement’ – is it nationally and internationally competitive?
- how are standards set, implemented and monitored?
- external validation is the key to the checking of standards.
The audit panel has based its report to UQ on:
- the UQ Performance Portfolio;
- the site visit to UQ from 30 March to 2 April 2009; and
- interviews with staff, students and extenal stakeholders.
Differences between the cycle 1 and cycle 2 audits
Cycle 1 Audit (June 2003)
- A whole of institution audit, with a focus on ‘Fitness for Purpose’
- the extent to which policies and procedures are in place to ensure UQ is meeting its own stated objectives, and their effectiveness.
Cycle 2 Audit (March 2009)
- Checks on progress with implementing cycle 1 recommendations and improvement suggestions;
- Includes an in-depth audit of two key themes;
- Focuses on ‘Fitness for Purpose’ will continue, but with a broader emphasis
- a shift in focus from process to outcomes, including performance, standards and benchmarking;
- Includes an additional focus on ‘Fitness of Purpose’
- the extent to which UQ’s quality assurance processes and outcomes meet best practice though benchmarking; and
- the extent to which UQ’s quality assurance processes and outcomes meet requirements of national and international guidelines, including the National Protocols for Higher Education Processes
National Protocols for Higher Education Processes
Higher education in Australia is delivered by institutions that meet nationally agreed criteria set out in the National Protocols for Higher Education Approval Processes. The AUQA audit panel will assess how well UQ meets the requirements of the National Protocols for Higher Education Processes.
The National Protocols for Higher Education Approval Processes:
- are a key element of the national quality assurance framework for higher education;
- provide a regulatory framework to maintain quality in higher education in Australia;
- protect the standing of Australian higher education nationally and internationally;
- assure students and the community that higher education institutions meet identified criteria;
- are implemented through a co-operative national approach to accreditation/approval processes; and
- ensure compliance through standard quality assurance processes, including external audits.
In February 2008, UQ provided AUQA with a statement outlining the University's compliance with each of the relevant criteria of the National Protocols for Higher Education Processes.
Click on the following links for further information about the cycle 2 Audit: