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Award Course Approval Policy

Purpose

Scope

Principles

Policy statements

Policy ownership and support

Definitions

Approval information

PDF version

References


1. Purpose

1.1 The Award Course Approval Policy (the policy) applies to the course approval process (the approval, accreditation, reaccreditation, phasing out and discontinuation of all award courses offered by UTS). The policy should be read in conjunction with the Award Course Approval Procedures (the procedures).

2. Scope

2.1 This policy applies to all award courses offered by UTS.

2.2 The policy does not apply to non-award courses.

2.3 Changes to an accredited course, including phasing out and discontinuation, shall be approved in line with Rule 3.6, Student Rules and the procedures.

2.4 Changes to the admission criteria of a course shall be approved in compliance with Rule 3.6 and with the Admissions and Recognition of Prior Learning Policy.

2.5 Changes to the course name, award title and award abbreviation of a course shall be approved in compliance with the Course Name and Award Title Nomenclature Policy.

3. Principles

3.1 The course approval process will encourage the development of high-quality courses that are sustainable and provide learning outcomes and experiences that are aligned with the university’s strategic direction, purpose and values, learning.futures initiative and graduate attributes.

3.2 The course approval process shall assist the university in responding to new opportunities and the changing educational environment in line with our strategic direction.

3.3 Course approvals must be based on a thorough assessment of the opportunities and risks.

3.4 The course approval process is designed to encourage and support sound curriculum design and the development of sustainable course structures.

3.5 Course approvals are guided by all legislation and university rules, policies and principles relevant to the design, delivery, management and quality assurance of award courses; acknowledging that these may change from time to time.

3.6 All courses must comply with the relevant provisions of the Higher Education Standards Framework (Threshold Standards) 2015 and the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF).

3.7 Resourcing information required as part of the course proposal, the authority approving the proposal and the complexity of the approval process shall be commensurate with the opportunities and risks associated with the proposal.

4. Policy statements

4.1 Each course must have an identified owner faculty that is responsible for course development, accreditation, maintenance and reaccreditation.

4.2 The dean has overall responsibility for course proposals developed by their faculty, ensuring course compliance and regulatory requirements.

4.3 Approval of new courses and the reaccreditation of existing courses is a three-staged process. The requirements for each stage are included in this policy and the procedures.

4.4 Approval of phasing out or discontinuation of existing courses is a two-stage process. The requirements for each stage are included in this policy and the procedures.

4.5 Approvals are managed through the online curriculum approval system. This system has pre-formatted templates to meet the university’s requirements for approval of new courses and the reaccreditation, phasing out and discontinuation of existing courses.

4.6 The Provost may advise, in exceptional circumstances, on an alternate approval process and level of supporting documentation for specific course proposals.

Course approval and reaccreditation

Stage 1: Business case

4.7 The first stage of the course approval and reaccreditation process is the business case. The purpose of this stage is to:

  • assess the course’s viability, strategic alignment and potential commercial interest
  • consider all planning issues that may have an impact on the quality, risk management and successful delivery and management of a course, and
  • ensure that all internal and external stakeholders have been consulted and impact of course development has been acknowledged.

4.8 The faculty dean is the sponsor of all new course or reaccreditation proposals. The business case must be endorsed by the dean prior to consideration by the Courses Planning Committee (CPC).

4.9 The CPC recommends the business case for approval by the Provost in line with section 5 of this policy and the procedures.

Stage 2: Course accreditation

4.10 Course accreditation is the second stage of the course approval and reaccreditation process. The purpose of this stage is to ensure that the course:

  • meets, or continues to meet, the university’s educational standards and requirements for the assigned award level
  • reflects the university strategic plan and values, the UTS Model of Learning and learning.futures and graduate attributes initiatives, and
  • structure, content, delivery arrangements and assessment profile are appropriately designed to achieve the desired educational aims and learning outcomes.

4.11 Course accreditation and reaccreditation must be seen and endorsed by all relevant faculty boards prior to consideration by the Courses Accreditation Committee (CAC) or the Graduate Research School Board (GRSB).

4.12 The course accreditation proposal is reviewed and endorsed by CAC or GRSB and submitted to Academic Board or Executive Committee of Academic Board (ECAB) for approval in line with section 5 of this policy and the procedures.

Stage 3: Course commencement or implementation

4.13 The third stage of the course approval and reaccreditation process is course commencement (for accredited new courses) or implementation (for reaccreditation of existing courses). The purpose of this stage is to ensure that:

  • all conditions of course accreditation or reaccreditation have been satisfied, and
  • necessary legislative, administrative and resource conditions for course commencement (for new courses) or course implementation (for reaccreditation) have been met before students are admitted.

4.14 Course commencement is approved by the Provost upon advice from the Manager, University Academic Programs Office (UAPO) in line with section 5 of this policy and the procedures.

Accreditation period and extension of accreditation

4.15 All coursework courses and research degrees with more than one-third of coursework component (categorised as doctoral degree by research and coursework (DRC) and masters degree by research and coursework (MRC)) are normally accredited for a period of five years.

4.16 Course accreditation for postgraduate research award courses categorised as doctoral degree by research (DR) and masters degree (research) (MR) is normally given for an unlimited period. Review and consideration of continued offering of these research courses is the responsibility of the Graduate Research School.

4.17 Articulated and interlinked courses are normally to be approved and reaccredited together, and are considered a ‘set’ for course performance review purposes.

4.18 If courses are accredited by external professional bodies, faculties should, wherever possible, request a period of UTS accreditation that enables them to prepare for internal and external reaccreditation at the same time, in order to reduce the administrative burden.

4.19 External articulation arrangements usually have the same accreditation end date as the course they are related to and should be reaccredited at the same time as the course.

4.20 Extension of course accreditation may be requested from Academic Board in order to ensure alignment between:

  • a UTS course accreditation period with some contracted agreements and/or external accreditation timelines
  • the accreditation period of a set of interlinked courses, for example graduate certificate, graduate diploma, masters degree (coursework), combined degrees.

4.21 Extension of accreditation period may also be sought in exceptional circumstances, including where:

  • events have prevented the faculty from offering/admitting students in the accredited course (eg awaiting a specified cohort of students from another program)
  • events have prevented the faculty from finalising the reaccreditation in the required timeframe (eg significant organisational change within the faculty)
  • a major strategic issue has been identified and there is insufficient time to address the matter in the normal reaccreditation cycle.

4.22 The business case for the extension of accreditation is approved by the Provost upon recommendation of the CPC in line with the normal course accreditation approval process and the procedures.

4.23 Course accreditation for the extension of accreditation is approved by Academic Board or ECAB upon the recommendation of the CAC or GRSB in line with the normal course accreditation approval process and the procedures.

4.24 Extension of accreditation may be sought and granted only once within the accreditation period. This is normally granted for a period of up to twelve months and cannot exceed twenty-four months.

Phasing out, discontinuation and suspension of intake

4.25 Courses may be phased out, discontinued or temporarily suspended in line with Rule 3.1.3 and the procedures.

4.26 Proposals for phasing out or discontinuation of a course must be seen and endorsed by all relevant faculty boards prior to consideration by the CPC, CAC or GRSB.

4.27 The business case for phasing out or discontinuation is approved by the Provost upon recommendation of the CPC in line with the normal business case approval process.

4.28 Course accreditation for phasing out or discontinuation of a course is approved by Academic Board upon recommendation of the CAC or the GRSB in line with the normal course accreditation approval process and the procedures.

4.29 Suspension of intake into a course may be allowed:

  • when a faculty wishes to stop admitting new students in a course flagged to be phased out, but university approval for phasing out has not yet been finalised, or
  • when a faculty does not wish to admit new students to a course for a specific or indeterminate period of time, but wishes to maintain the course as ‘active’ so it can be offered again at a later stage.

4.30 Suspension of intake into a course is approved by the Provost upon request from the dean.

Monitoring and review

4.31 The performance of all award coursework courses is monitored using a set of key tracking measures against an agreed set of benchmarked indicators in order to support and enhance the course review and reaccreditation process.

4.32 The Teaching and Learning Committee (TLC) reviews the performance of all coursework award courses on an annual basis, and makes recommendations to Academic Board as appropriate on actions to improve course performance.

4.33 Course performance data is used to inform decisions about whether short or full reaccreditation will be required for existing coursework courses.

  • Courses performing unsatisfactorily usually undergo a full reaccreditation, requiring the submission of a business case and course accreditation (stages 1 and 2 of the course approval process outlined in this policy and the procedures).
  • Courses performing satisfactorily usually undergo a short reaccreditation, only requiring the submission of course accreditation (stage 2 of the process outlined in this policy and the procedures).

Annual reporting

4.34 UAPO provides an annual report to Academic Board and the Senior Executive setting out for that year:

  • new courses set to active in CASS (the university’s curriculum and student system)
  • courses nearing the end of their accreditation period
  • courses that have been or are to be phased out or discontinued
  • courses into which intake has been suspended for a period of time.

5. Policy ownership and support

5.1 Policy owner

The Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education and Students) is responsible for the enforcement of and compliance with this policy, ensuring that its principles and statements are observed. The Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education and Students) is also responsible for approval of any associated university-level procedures.

5.2 Policy contact

The Manager, University Academic Programs Office (UAPO) in the Institute for Interactive Media and Learning is responsible for providing advice on the implementation of this policy and its procedures, and for ensuring the efficiency and integrity of the systems that support the approval process.

5.3 Others

Provost (as Vice-Chancellor’s delegate)

Approves business case (stage one), by delegation from the Vice-Chancellor, and approves the course commencement stage for new courses.

The Provost is also responsible for determining appropriate approval pathways, reaccreditation requirements, course commencement, implementation, requests for extension and suspension of intake in line with this policy and the procedures.
Teaching and Learning Committee Monitors course performance and makes recommendations on actions to improve course performance to Academic Board as appropriate.
Academic Board and Executive Committee of Academic Board (where decisions are required outside Academic Board meeting times)

Approves the accreditation of proposed awards, reaccreditation of existing award courses, and the removal or phasing out of approved or existing award courses as recommended by the Courses Accreditation Committee.

Executive Committee of Academic Board (ECAB) must report all approvals made on behalf of Academic Board to the next meeting of the Board for noting.
Graduate Research School Board (GRSB) Endorses course accreditation for research courses and makes a recommendation to Academic Board or ECAB that course accreditation approval be granted for research courses that meet, or continue to meet, the university’s educational requirements and standards for the appropriate level of award, in accordance with this policy.
Courses Accreditation Committee (CAC) Endorses course accreditation for coursework courses and makes a recommendation to Academic Board or ECAB that course accreditation approval be granted for coursework courses.
Courses Planning Committee

Endorses the business case for award courses and makes recommendation to the Provost for approval.

Makes recommendation to the Provost whether a full or simple reaccreditation process is required for existing coursework courses.
Deans

Ensure that courses offered by their faculty are developed and approved in compliance with the Student Rules, this policy and the procedures.

Submit business cases and course accreditation proposals to the relevant committees in line with this policy and the procedures.
Faculty boards Endorse proposals for new courses, reaccreditation and phasing out and discontinuation of existing courses prior to submission to CAC for recommendation to Academic Board or ECAB for course accreditation approval.

6. Definitions

These definitions apply for this policy and all associated procedures. These are presented in addition to the definitions outlined in Schedule 1, Student Rules.

Approval means the formal processes (outlined in this policy and the procedures) of:

  • establishing a new award course
  • reaccrediting an existing award course
  • phasing out or discontinuing an existing award course, or
  • in limited circumstances, extending the accreditation period for an existing award course.

Articulated courses are those linked via an articulation arrangement as outlined in the section 6 of the Admissions and Recognition of Prior Learning Policy.

Business case means the documentation submitted by faculties to seek in principle approval/endorsement for new courses and reaccreditation of existing courses.

Discontinuation means the cessation of an existing award course as approved by Academic Board. Discontinuation is a status in CASS referring to a course that is no longer offered to new students. No existing students may be admitted to the course.

Extension of course accreditation means the temporary extension of the accreditation period for an existing award course to enable more time for preparation and submission of reaccreditation documentation in line with this policy and the procedures.

Interlinked courses mean those courses that are or were connected (for example, stand-alone degrees and their combined degrees, bachelor degrees and their related bachelor honours degree). Courses may be formally interlinked with an articulation arrangement.

Phasing out means the gradual process of discontinuation via a process of Academic Board approved stages. Phasing-out is a status of a course in CASS where Academic Board has approved that the course no longer be offered to new students, but that students currently admitted to the course can continue their studies in accordance with the existing course structure and requirements.

Reaccreditation means the reapproval of an existing award courses in line with the provisions of this policy and the procedures.

Approval information

Policy contact Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education and Students)
Approval authority Academic Board
Review date Three years after approval or at the point of systems roll out
File number UR18/2484
Superseded documents Award Course Approval and Reaccreditation Policy 2011 (UR10/1182)
Version history
Version Approved by Approval date Effective date Sections modified
1.0 Academic Board (by flying minute) 21/11/2018 01/01/2019 New policy.
2.0 Academic Board (AB/19-1/7) 27/03/2019 18/04/2019 Multiple modifications to reflect development of new procedures.
2.1 Director, Governance Support Unit 24/04/2020 29/04/2020 Clarification to language and process relating to doctoral degree by research with a coursework component (DRC) and masters degree (research) with a coursework component (MRC).

PDF version

Award Course Approval Policy (PDF 188KB)

References

Award Course Approval Procedures

Admissions and Recognition of Prior Learning Policy

Course Name and Award Title Nomenclature Policy

Curriculum design

Curriculum Design Principles (PDF, Staff Connect)

Curriculum Principles and Practice — majors, sub-majors and streams (PDF, Staff Connect)

Cotutelle Framework (PDF, Staff Connect)

Faculty approval processes (Staff Connect) for changes to award courses and study packages

Graduate attributes

Guide to developing a new course proposal (PDF, Staff Connect)

Offshore activities:

Standing orders for faculty boards, in particular, duties and powers (section 2)

UTS Model of Learning

UTS Rules: