Quality Enhancement

Quality Enhancement

SUMMARY

The Quality Enhancement Framework Policy establishments the University's approach to support continuous improvement in University outcomes, the effectiveness of its structures and activities, and the alignment of planning, resources and effort behind the achievement of University goals.

The Quality Enhancement for University Structures and Activities Schedule provides further information concerning the application of the Framework to University structures and activities.

The Benchmarking for Quality Assurance Procedure establishes and facilitates Macquarie University’s use of Benchmarking for Quality Assurance as a methodology to assess fitness for purpose. Benchmarking for Quality Assurance usually involves comparison against adopted standards or the use of a survey instrument that is a proxy measure for desired outcomes. It is therefore often undertaken for accountability and compliance purposes.

The Benchmarking for Quality Enhancement Procedure establishes and facilitates Macquarie University’s use of Benchmarking for Quality Enhancement as a methodology to achieve the strategic goals of the University.

POLICY

Quality Enhancement Framework Policy

Purpose

In order to encourage continuous improvement in University outcomes and the effectiveness of its structures and activities, Macquarie has developed a Quality Enhancement Framework to ensure the alignment of planning, resources and effort behind the achievement of University goals. 

Overview

At Macquarie, quality enhancement is a systematic, future directed, continuous cycle of goal setting, planning, managing and reviewing, within an appropriate governance framework and aimed at transformation and reaching the goals of Macquarie@50. 

Quality enhancement is the responsibility of all members, units and levels of the University, i.e. quality enhancement is both bottom-up and top-down.  It would be neat to assume the Quality Enhancement Framework commenced with goal setting and planning at the level of the University, but this is not always the case.  As a cycle, there is potential for a structure or activity to commence at any element in the Framework and to influence up, down or out.

Scope

Quality Enhancement is informed by the following principles.  It is:
  • part of the normal and continuous cycle of planning, monitoring and improvement
  • evidence-based and informed by benchmarking and review, including self, peer and stakeholder review 
  • open, transparent and inclusive and itself the subject of continuous review and improvement
  • student-focused, where the student voice is present in all four elements of the Quality Enhancement cycle, and particularly in Phase 4: Evaluation, Reviews and Reporting 
  • identifies areas for improvement, while at the same time fostering collaboration and exchanging good practice, and encouraging an ethos of critical self-evaluation
  • devolved to its most effective organisational level, with clear lines of accountability
  • designed to be efficient and to work within the principles of equity and natural justice.

Policy

The Model of Quality Enhancement at Macquarie University is a continuous cycle made up of four elements of institutional practice:
  • Institutional and Academic Governance – a broadly representative and accountable hierarchy of committees, with the University Council as governing body, the Senior Management Group responsible for setting direction and goals, and the Academic Senate responsible for academic quality.
  • Strategy and Policy – policy and strategy development to guide the achievement of University goals, consistency of focus and approach across a devolved organization; and inter-linked strategic plans which focus on continuous improvement
  • Management – actions involving the application of resources (human, monetary and infrastructure), decision-making and coordination of the effort  required to operationalise goals and policy
  • Evaluation, reviews and reporting – assessment, reflection and reporting on outputs and outcomes based on accurate and relevant data gained through methodologies such as benchmarking (for both quality assurance and quality enhancement purposes), reviews and accreditation.  Results from this review and peer and self-reflection become input for a further review of Strategy and Policy. 

This continuous cycle is incorporated into all academic and non-academic activities and its basic intention is to improve performance while at the same time meeting the need for external accountability.

COMPLIANCE AND BREACHES The University may commence applicable disciplinary procedures if a person to whom this policy applies breaches this policy (or any of its related procedures).

Policy Information

Contact OfficerExecutive Manager, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) and Registrar
Date Approved3 May 2012
Approval AuthorityQuality Enhancement Committee
Date of Commencement1 June 2012
Amendment History13 November 2017 - Contact Officer updated from Executive Officer, Office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Provost), to Executive Manager, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) and Registrar.
February 2012 – Guideline promoted into a Schedule and link updated
June 2010 – Updated to reference specific methodologies of benchmarking, reviews and accreditation and to link to benchmarking procedures
Date for Next ReviewMay 2015
Related DocumentsBenchmarking for Quality Assurance Procedure (see tab above)
Benchmarking for Quality Enhancement Procedure (see tab above)
Organisational Unit Reviews Procedure
Quality Enhancement for University Structures and Activities Schedule (see tab above)
Policies / Rules Superseded by this PolicyQuality Enhancement Policy, approved  1 Jun 2010
KeywordsQuality Enhancement Framework, Governance, Strategy, Policy, Management, Evaluation, Reviews

SCHEDULE

Quality Enhancement for University Structures and Activities Schedule

PurposeTo outline the application of the University’s Quality Enhancement Framework to University structures and activities

Schedule

Schedule Information

Contact OfficerExecutive Manager, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) and Registrar
Date Approved3 May 2012
Approval AuthorityQuality Enhancement Committee
Date of Commencement3 May 2012
Amendment History13 November 2017 - updated Schedule references for DVC (Provost) and DVC (Students and Registrar) to DVC (Academic) and Registrar. Contact Officer updated from Executive Officer, Office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Provost), to Executive Manager, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) and Registrar.
Date for Next ReviewMay 2015
KeywordsQuality, Enhancement, Reviews
Policy AuthorisationQuality Enhancement Policy

PROCEDURE ASSURANCE

Benchmarking for Quality Assurance Procedure

Purpose

To facilitate the use of Benchmarking for Quality Assurance as a methodology to assess fitness for purpose. This methodology contrasts with Benchmarking for Quality Enhancement, which is designed to achieve the strategic goals of the University. 

Benchmarking for Quality Assurance usually involves comparison against adopted standards or the use of a survey instrument that is a proxy measure for desired outcomes. It is therefore often undertaken for accountability and compliance purposes.

The benefits of Benchmarking for Quality Assurance are:
  • regular usage of a survey instrument, the testing against standards and one-off reviews provide valuable evidence and input to decision-making 
  • individually, it provides input to Performance Development and Review (PDR) and academic promotion processes
  • organisationally, it provides data on where the University is performing well and where there are opportunities for improvement
  • comparison with data from peers facilitates discussion about the inputs and processes that achieved the results and hence may lead into Benchmarking for Quality Enhancement.

Procedure

This procedure requires actions by the following:
 Benchmarking for Quality Assurance is a cyclical activity with the following steps:
  • Commence a Project
  • Agree Methodology, Scope and Focus
  • Obtain Sign-off
  • Assign Responsibility for Data Collection
  • Collect, Analyse and Report data
  • Respond to Findings
  • Perform Further Benchmarking

Project Owner

Commence a Project
Respond to a need for a Benchmarking for Quality Assurance project and commence a project.

Benchmarking may be initiated:
  • external to the University
  • internally as an input to Benchmarking for Quality Enhancement
  • for regular reviews of academic units and programs
  • for other reviews and projects.

Agree Methodology, Scope and Focus
External
If Benchmarking for Quality Assurance is undertaken for compliance purposes, this step is undertaken external to the University. Examples include university involvement with Federal Government initiatives like the Course Experience Questionnaire (CEQ), Postgraduate Research Experience Questionnaire (PREQ) and Graduate Destination Survey (GDS).

Internal
If Benchmarking for Quality Assurance is undertaken for internal purposes as part of a regular review of units or programs, there is no need for a formal agreement or process to adopt a standard or survey instrument. Examples include the Learner Experience of Teaching (LET) and Learner Experience of Unit (LEU). However, co-ordinate with the staff who need to track which unit is due for review and to book the survey through the Learning and Teaching Centre (LTC).

Where there is a one-off Benchmarking for Quality Assurance project between Macquarie University and another university or between internal organisational units of Macquarie University, you will need to prepare an informal agreement. 

Include in the agreement:
  • the purpose of the benchmarking
  • the methodology and standards or instruments to be used
  • identification of the subjects
  • timing of the benchmarking
  • resources required
  • roles and responsibilities
  • access to, and usage of the results, for example, in a publication or conference paper

Obtain Sign-off
Obtain agreement sign-off from the Executive Dean or Head of Department.  This ensures resourcing is available and avoids duplication.  It is important to be strategic, especially with student feedback surveys, to ensure that survey fatigue does not occur.

Assign Responsibility for Data Collection
Co-ordinate the data collection and analysis with a staff member in Macquarie Analytics or the LTC.

Respond to Findings
Review the results of the data collection and respond and report appropriately.

Perform Further Benchmarking
Often Benchmarking for Quality Assurance is completed with the reporting of results but it can also lead into Benchmarking for Quality Enhancement.  

Executive Dean/Head of Department

Sign off Benchmarking for Quality Assurance agreements between Macquarie University and other universities, or between Macquarie University organisational units.

Staff member, Macquarie Analytics or Learning and Teaching Centre

Collect, Analyse and Report Data
Perform data collection and analysis.
Report findings to the Project Owner.

Procedure Information

Contact OfficerExecutive Manager, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) and Registrar
Date Approved25 March 2010
Approval AuthorityQuality Enhancement Committee
Date of Commencement1 April 2010
Amendment History13 November 2017 - Contact Officer updated from Executive Officer, Office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Provost), to Executive Manager, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) and Registrar.
Date for Next ReviewApril 2013
Related DocumentsBenchmarking for Quality Enhancement Procedure
Quality Enhancement Policy (see tab above)
KeywordsBenchmarking, Quality Assurance, Quality Enhancement, Reviews, Standards

PROCEDURE ENHANCEMENT

Benchmarking for Quality Enhancement Procedure

PurposeTo facilitate the use of Benchmarking for Quality Enhancement as a methodology to achieve the strategic goals of the University.
ProcedureThis procedure requires actions by the following:
 Summary:
  1. Initiate a Project
  2. Select a Project Sponsor
  3. Select a Benchmarking Project Manager
  4. Prepare a Memorandum of Understanding
  5. Identify standards
  6. Sign off plans
  7. Identify a Governance Group
  8. Identify benchmarking partners
  9. Approve the Memorandum of Understanding
  10. Develop and obtain approval of an Operational Plan
  11. Implement the benchmarking project
  12. Analyse the data
  13. Prioritise actions
  14. Report results and recommendations
  15. Plan enhancement projects
  16. Initiate further benchmarking as required
Project InitiatorInitiate a Project
Identify a need for a benchmarking project and initiate the project. A Benchmarking for Quality Enhancement project may be initiated as a consequence of either:
  • a Benchmarking for Quality Assurance exercise which provides comparative data indicating the need for quality enhancement in an area of strategic importance for Macquarie University
  • an external source, when a potential partner approaches Macquarie University with a suggested project
  • comparative results obtained when reporting outcomes against standards and output measures which are required for either internal or external quality assurance purposes
  • reporting against strategic plans or reviews
  • risk analysis
  • strategic planning
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Senior Management Team

Select a Project Sponsor
Select a Project Sponsor for the benchmarking project. The Project Sponsor should be a member of the Senior Management Group (SMG) or report directly to a member of the SMG, to ensure the benchmarking project is strategically aligned and adequately resourced.

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Project SponsorSelect a Benchmarking Project Manager
Select a Benchmarking Project Manager who may be either a member of staff with acknowledged expertise in the area, or appointed/seconded for the life of the project. 
Prepare a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)

If the project is being conducted with other organisations, formalise the agreement by preparing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).  Document in the MOU:
  • the aims and scope of the benchmarking project
  • the extent to which data will be shared between the partners
  • the extent of confidentiality with those not party to the agreement.  There is a need for confidentiality when there are ‘commercial in confidence’ situations between partners
  • how the partners will agree the area(s) with potential for improvement
  • how to handle any future publications emerging from the benchmarking, including limits on the publication of outcomes
  • a process to allow either partner to withdraw from the benchmarking project if there is a change in strategic priorities, a new situation that brings the benchmarking partners into competition, or a turnover of staff which changes staff resources and expertise in either benchmarking partner.

Sign off Plans
Sign off the Operational Plan.On completion of the benchmarking exercise, endorse the Project Report.On agreement to commence an enhancement project, sign off the Enhancement Project Plan.

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Governance Group

Approve the benchmarking partner(s).
Approve the Operational Plan.Ensure that the project adheres to the Operational Plan.
On completion of the benchmarking exercise, endorse the Project Report.
On agreement to commence an enhancement project, sign off the Enhancement Project Plan.

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Benchmarking Project ManagerPlan the Benchmarking for Quality Enhancement project using project management methodologies, identifying project sponsorship and governance, resources required, project timeline and communication with stakeholders.
Identify a Governance Group
Identify or assemble a Governance Group internal to the University, for example, Faculty Standards and Quality Committees, the Senate Learning and Teaching Committee, or the Research Strategy and Policy Committee.
Identify Benchmarking Partner(s)

Benchmarking for Quality Enhancement is likely to be more successful in an environment of trust.  Therefore, identify the benchmarking partner that is not a close competitor to facilitate open sharing of data and processes.  In some cases (for example, for non-academic service providers) it may be appropriate to benchmark with institutions that are not in the higher education sector.  The University may already have formal agreements with other national and International universities.  Where there is a whole of University agreement in place between potential benchmarking partners, it would be sensible to build on this.  An active relationship with a history of mutually successful outcomes increases trust and the potential for successful benchmarking.
Identify Standards or Tools

Identify standards, benchmarks or a standard measuring tool.  Where the project is not the result of outcomes against standards or a standard output measuring tool, the identification may be assisted by external disciplinary and/or professional associations.Where these do not exist, develop appropriate standards collegially with the benchmarking partner(s). If developing a standard, ensure that it includes measures that are quantifiable and that data exists to demonstrate the current level of performance.  Performance measures should also be able to demonstrate good practice, that is, answer the questions:
  • Where are we?
  • Where do we want to be?
  • How will we know we have got there?
Develop and Obtain Approval of an Operational Plan
Prepare an Operational Plan.Obtain approval and sign off of the Operational Plan from the Governance Group and Project Sponsor respectively. Report status to the Quality Enhancement Committee prior to implementing the Operational Plan.
Implement the Benchmarking Project

Agree with the partners on the data collection methodology and timing that constrains variables and results in comparable data.
Analyse the Data

Ensure each partner separately analyses the data against the standards, noting areas of good practice and areas with opportunities for improvement.  In line with the MOU, share the results of the data analysis with the partners, thus providing additional information to that resulting from a comparison against the standard.  Sharing should provide information on where the strengths of each partner lie and whether there are individual or joint areas with opportunities for improvement.  Agree with the partners any priorities for action, focusing on any areas of good practice in the other partner.In response to the question: ‘How did we get here?’ analyse what practices and processes contribute to an area being found to be good practice.  Often organisational culture contributes to these, but when there are practices and processes which can be replicated, these should be shared between partners, as outlined in the MOU.
Prioritise Actions

Priorities for action should be identified by alignment of improvement areas with University goals.  Internally, areas with potential for improvement should be prioritised by:
  • Impact on strategic goals
  • Financial criteria – affordability and contribution to sustainability
  • Return On Investment - potential to deliver change beyond incremental levels

Report Results and Recommendations
Prepare a Project Report of findings with recommendations for action and communicate to all stakeholders.Present the Project Report to the Project Sponsor and Governance Group for adoption.  Once adopted, present it to the Quality Enhancement Committee.
Plan Enhancement Projects

Create Project Plans for all recommended enhancement projects.  Identify a funding stream for each enhancement project (either internal or external grant schemes or the regular budget process).Submit enhancement Project Plans for approval by the Governance Group and sign off by the Project Sponsor.Once each project is funded, make regular reports against the enhancement Project Plan to the Project Sponsor and Governance Group.  Evaluate each enhancement project and re-apply the original standards and/or measuring instruments to demonstrate change emerging from the enhancement project.  Report this evaluation to the Project Sponsor and Governance Group.As part of the evaluation of enhancement projects, include a recommendation for any further benchmarking if required.
Initiate Further Benchmarking as required

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University Secretary, General Counsel and Registrar

Approve the Memorandum of UnderstandingSign off any Memorandum of Understanding between potential benchmarking partners.

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Quality Enhancement Committee

Receive the Operational Plan prior to its commencement.Receive the Project Report which has been adopted by the Project Sponsor and the Governance Group.

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Procedure Information

Contact OfficerExecutive Manager, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) and Registrar
Date Approved25 March 2010
Approval AuthorityQuality Enhancement Committee
Date of Commencement1 April 2010
Amendment History13 November 2017 - Contact Officer updated from Executive Officer, Office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Provost), to Executive Manager, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) and Registrar.
Date for Next ReviewApril 2013
Related Documents Benchmarking for Quality Assurance Procedure (see tab above)
Contract Management Policy / Procedure
Quality Enhancement Policy (see tab above)
KeywordsBenchmarking, quality enhancement, standards, Memorandum of Understanding
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