17 May 2012

The University of Queensland has today announced a comprehensive Integrity and Accountability Reform Program designed to strengthen the University’s overall governance framework.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Deborah Terry said the reform program was aimed at ensuring the University’s ongoing reform initiatives were best practice in terms of integrity and accountability.

“A review of key areas of the University has been underway since the very serious admission irregularity emerged last year,” Professor Terry said.

“The announcement of this reform program is the next logical step.

“The reform program includes a review of all of the relevant policies and systems across the University; and input from a number of independent external parties including a leading Australian ethics centre, the CMC, and the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA).

“We felt it was important to give the public a sense of our progress in these areas.

“As a result we will provide an Integrity and Accountability Report that will detail the University’s performance in these crucial areas.

“The report, which will be completed by late 2012, will document our progress on all reform initiatives.”

Professor Terry said the University was taking these steps to ensure public confidence and trust in the institution and to take it forward in the 21st century.

“I am personally committed to overseeing this process and ensuring that the reform initiatives are best practice in terms of integrity and accountability,” she said.

“I believe input from a number of external parties during the implementation of the reform program will bring independence to the program and ensure that the appropriate checks and balances are in place.”

Newly appointed Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Høj will take ongoing responsibility for oversight of these reforms when he commences his tenure in late 2012.

The University of Queensland Integrity and Accountability Reform Program includes:

• More robust admissions rules and procedures, including an annual audit
report documenting all offers made under the authority of the Admission Rules that permit offers by exception

• Enhancement of the University’s policies and processes to prevent potential conflicts of interest

• Strengthening organisational structures to support assurance, investigation and risk management

• A review of the University’s processes and policies relating to the management and handling of misconduct and complaints, aligned with the CMC’s quality audit processes

• A stronger working relationship with the CMC. This includes improved case monitoring and implementation of follow-up action overseen by a group comprising the Vice-Chancellor, Executive Director (Operations) and the Director, Assurance and Risk Management Services

• Commitment to ongoing preventative educational programs for all levels of University leadership

• Implementation of communication and organisational development initiatives to ensure the highest standards of accountability

• Review of internal culture in order to ensure a strong culture of integrity

• Regular updates to the relevant external bodies including the CMC and TEQSA

• Development of programs focused on ethics, accountability and integrity for the University’s key decision makers. These will be developed in conjunction with a leading Australian ethics centre.

Professor Terry said the aim of the program of reforms was to empower staff to act with accountability and integrity by providing an appropriate level of training and supporting policies and procedures.

She said the new program would examine reforms under way and make recommendations for further ways in which systems and processes could be strengthened across the University.

“We have also maintained a continuing dialogue with the CMC and have been providing regular updates on our progress in a range of areas over the past six months,” Professor Terry said.

“The forthcoming CMC report may provide additional recommendations that further reinforce the process we have embarked upon.

“We would, of course, implement any such recommendations.

"We are confident that once this reform program has been fully implemented it will help to ensure that irregularities such as the one that occurred last year do not occur again.

“As a consequence, it is my view that the University will emerge as a stronger institution.”

TEQSA this week advised the University it is satisfied with the manner in which the University addressed the issues of late 2011.

“We are pleased with TEQSA’s response but we will continue to work with them and update them on our governance standards and procedures,” Professor Terry said.

For further information:
Fiona Kennedy, telephone 07 3365 1384, email fiona.kennedy@uq.edu.au
Lesley Whitteker, telephone 0417 496 397, email: l.whitteker@uq.edu.au
The University of Queensland