Welcome to our new disciplines of Counselling, Psychology, Science, Social Work and new staff within our existing disciplines. With the growth of the Faculty and addition of new disciplines, it is timely for us to review our quality processes for maintaining academic standards as part of our routine activities reflected in the PIRI cycle (Planning, Implementation, Review and Improvement). These processes are audited by professional bodies for course accreditation and are part of the University’s processes for self-accreditation which will be audited by the tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency (TEQSA) in 2015.
We have recently reviewed our course governance structures, with Course Implementation Committees (CICs) now reporting to the Teaching and Learning Committees within the School, except for the Honours CIC which reports to the Faculty Research Standing Committee. This change will enable Schools to be closer to the quality processes and maintain links between learning and teaching and broader aspects of quality assurance and accreditation of courses.
To assist with course governance, FHS has two new Faculty Administrator positions. These new positions will support the Schools with course accreditation and administration of course review and development committees and support the administration of the CICs. Welcome to Carol Bradley in Brisbane - a second new person is soon to be appointed in Melbourne also.
Following a recent survey of the Schools, it seems that external benchmarking, other than course review and accreditation processes is not a regular quality assurance mechanism in all of the FHS disciplines. Recent feedback on TEQSA audits of other tertiary providers indicates that evidence of external and internal benchmarking at the unit level will be required evidence to meet the Threshold Standards.
Benchmarking according to TEQSA’s definition is recognised as a means by which an entity can: demonstrate accountability to stakeholders; improve networking and collaborative relationships; generate management information; develop an increased understanding of practice, process or performance; and garner insights into how improvements might be made. In the context of course accreditation, benchmarking involves comparing performance outcomes and/or processes of similar courses of study delivered by other providers. ‘Internal benchmarking’ against other relevant courses offered by the provider may also be undertaken.
So it’s a good time for CICs to plan benchmarking activities for this year, across campuses and with other tertiary education providers.
Community engagement, a key element of the Core Curriculum, was the focus of a 2 day workshop Making a Difference Together hosted by the Institute of Advancing Community Engagement held on the 4th-5th February. Teams considered questions and issues such as:
What are the communities asking of us?
What are the most appropriate ways for us to respond to these community needs through our Community Engagement, Teaching & Learning and Research?
Who will be our partners?
Briefing, supporting and debriefing students and staff: - Faculty perspectives - Community Engagement perspectives
Embedding community engagement into Teaching & Learning and Research agenda: Community and ACU as researchers.
The next steps are setting up a matrix of teams including campus teams to work together with IACE in precinct activities, discipline based teams and interdisciplinary teams across campuses.