DATE OF APPROVAL: 22 June 2001 (as policy A35B)

Director: Student and Academic Services - January 2011
Academic Board - May 2011
As Policy C-34 - 18 October 2012 Council Resolution 2012/5/7



A-35.A: Quality assurance and improvement: Programs, Courses and Teaching Arrangements (PDF 254KB)
Internal Audit Charter
RES-15: Quality assurance and improvement in research degrees
C-24.1 Risk Management
Guidelines for Managing Business Risk


Guidelines – Nominated and Vice Chancellor’s Reviews


 The university’s vision is that it will be a leading contributor to Australia having the best higher education system in the world, supporting the world’s best educated and most innovative, cohesive and sustainable society.

Systematic review supports the university’s efforts to realise its vision by contributing to continuous improvement and the delivery of high-quality teaching and learning, research and administration. It utilises key performance and other indicators and international benchmarks of good practice, takes into consideration stakeholder views and the external environment, and informs innovation and planning for quality improvement.

Annual reviews and internal audit are part of the regular assessment of the university’s operations. Nominated and Vice Chancellor’s reviews supplement annual reviews and internal audit and address concerns identified through comprehensive risk assessment and continuous monitoring and evaluation. This allows the university to allocate resources efficiently and to identify and respond quickly to concerns.


 This policy applies to all areas, functions, priorities and disciplines of the university.


A senior manager is a member of the university’s Enterprise Leadership Team.


  1. Under the direction of the relevant senior manager, units will undertake annual reviews of their activities. Annual reviews will include reports against targets and priorities identified in the university’s corporate plan
  2. Enterprise Leadership Team will review areas, functions and priorities as part of an annual planning and review cycle.
  3. Enterprise Leadership Team will maintain a schedule of reviews of identified functions, priorities or areas - to be known as nominated reviews. These are in addition to annual reviews.

    Nominated reviews may be undertaken of: 
  • areas, such as research concentrations and units
  • functions, such as offshore teaching, research education, clinical and work placements, unit administration and performance management
  • priorities, such as internationalisation, innovation and quality improvement
  • disciplines and groups of disciplines.
  1. The Vice Chancellor may at any time initiate a Vice Chancellor’s review of any aspect of the university’s operations.
  2. The university will benchmark its practices and achievements against those of Australian and international institutions.
  3.  Nominated reviews will utilise reviewers from outside the university to conduct reviews or to join review panels.
  4. The Audit and Risk Management Committee, a Committee of Council established under the Audit Committee Charter, will determine an annual schedule of internal audits to be undertaken by Assurance Services.
  5. Each year, the Vice Chancellor, in consultation with the Enterprise Leadership Team, will prepare for consideration by Council a corporate plan which includes information gathered from annual reviews.
  6. Each year, the Vice Chancellor will inform Council about all nominated and Vice Chancellor’s reviews conducted or in process in the previous year.
  7. The report from a nominated review panel will be presented to the senior manager who commissioned the review. That senior manager will develop an appropriate response and draft action plan. The senior manager will normally invite comment from the area that is the subject of the review. After discussion at a meeting of the Enterprise Leadership Team, the Vice Chancellor will approve an agreed action plan. Where the nominated review is of an academic function, the senior manager responsible for the review will present the report and recommended action plan to Academic Board and, if the related academic area lies within an academic unit, to the relevant unit board or equivalent body.
  8. When a program or suite of programs is the subject of an external/professional accreditation review, the relevant senior manager will present a summary of the review’s final report to Academic Board.


1. Annual Reviews

The Enterprise Leadership Team will determine the structure and timing of annual reviews and will consider their outcomes.

Where an external body such as a professional association or accrediting/registering organisation undertakes a review within the university, the relevant senior manager will include a short summary of the outcomes and any significant recommendations in the annual review of the division/portfolio.

2. Nominated Reviews

Each year, the Enterprise Leadership Team will agree to a schedule of nominated reviews for the following year. Nominated reviews may be contemplated because of internal priorities or following external feedback and will take into account other quality improvement and audit activities.

The schedule of nominated reviews will take into account previous or intended reviews by external bodies such as professional associations or accrediting/registering organisations.

Nominated reviews may cover areas of excellent, satisfactory or poor performance and should be consistent with institutional priorities.

A senior manager may, with the approval of the Vice Chancellor, initiate a nominated review outside the schedule.

The Vice Chancellor must approve the membership of the review panel and the proposed approach.

Reviews will include relevant national and international data and comparisons with other institutions.

 The Vice Chancellor will inform Council, through the Corporate Performance Report, about nominated reviews conducted or in process in the previous year.

3. Vice Chancellor’s Reviews

The Vice Chancellor will inform Council, through the Corporate Performance Report, about Vice Chancellor’s reviews conducted or in process in the previous year. 

Guidelines - Nominated and Vice Chancellor's Reviews

Approved by Senior Management Group – 18 April 2012

Key principles


  • are systematic
  • are evidence-based and incorporate benchmarking
  • take account of stakeholder views and the external environment
  • utilise external reviewers
  •  inform improvement and innovation.

Reviews will be well planned and methodical. There will be clear and logical relationships between the scope and terms of reference, methods of information gathering, analysis and interpretation, and formulation of findings.

Evidence and benchmarking
Reviews will identify, gather, analyse and interpret relevant quantitative and qualitative information. They will utilise key performance and other indicators, and undertake benchmarking against national and international good practice. Reviews will include comparison of UniSA with other institutions and organisations.

Benchmarking against good practice at a national and international level is essential to assessing UniSA's relative standing and to identifying areas of good practice that may inform improvement, future priorities or innovation.

Stakeholder views and the external environment
Reviews must take account of stakeholder views. The review panel must identify stakeholder groups and the nature of their interest, determine appropriate ways to gather such views, and ensure that their views are appropriately recorded.

Reviews must take account of the external environment, including legislation and regulation, changes in the education sector, the economy and society in general, and relevant international developments or events.

Issues such as the confidentiality or otherwise of responses and the attribution of views in any reporting need to be made clear from the outset.

Depending on the nature of the review, different approaches may be considered, including formal submissions, focus group activity, personal interviews and questionnaires.

The methods adopted must be appropriate and encourage input.

External reviewers
The policy requires that an external reviewer conduct a review or join a review panel. This ensures that the review takes broader perspectives into account and provides independent advice to the university. However, this means that the reviewer must be briefed well, understand the university and be given appropriate support.

External reviewers must sign appropriate confidentiality agreements.

Improvement and innovation
The purpose of reviews is to inform quality improvement, planning and priority setting. Review reports are therefore expected to make recommendations. These may suggest improvements or the consideration of completely new approaches.

It is also important that review is balanced, and areas of good practice or strength should be acknowledged.

Responsibility of the relevant senior manager

The senior manager who commissions the review must:
• ensure that the review is properly framed
• appoint an appropriate reviewer/review panel
• secure the Vice Chancellor’s approval as specified below
• provide adequate resources and orientation for the reviewer/review panel
• enable stakeholders to contribute to the review
• evaluate the report and prepare an appropriate action plan.

Framing reviews

The review brief needs to provide the review panel and the university community with a clear idea of the task to be undertaken, the timelines and the reporting arrangements.

Framing the review therefore needs to include:

  • an introduction to the issue and why a review is relevant
  • a clear scope that defines the boundaries of the investigation
  • the process for submissions and the range of stakeholders from whom submissions will be sought
  • the key 'problem questions' that the review is to address
  • any particular considerations to be taken into account (for example, emerging national higher education priorities, current capacity to undertake a particular function)
  • a review schedule setting out the principal milestones, including submission of the final report
  • reporting arrangements - who will the draft report and final report be sent to?
  • supporting arrangements - what resources will the reviewer be able to access in undertaking the review?

Vice Chancellor's approval
The senior manager (other than the Vice Chancellor) proposing the review must give the Vice Chancellor:

  • the review brief
  • name(s) of a suggested reviewer or review panel, with information about their qualifications, experience or other factors that make them appropriate to review the issue. The professional relationships, if any, of the external reviewer/s to any key personnel in the area under review must be clarified in order for any real or apparent conflicts of interest to be evaluated.

Selecting and briefing reviewers

The choice of reviewer will influence the quality of the review and the credibility of findings. The following considerations are relevant:

  • expertise in the subject matter of the review
  • independence and impartiality
  • experience in undertaking reviews
  • standing and reputation
  • availability for the reviewing period
  • preparedness to accept the review brief.

Where a review panel is to oversee the review, then the team as a whole needs to meet these considerations.

The effectiveness of a review is measured by the extent to which its recommendations are relevant and can be implemented. It is therefore essential to select the reviewer (or panel) carefully and to consider their expertise and any risks to the appearance of impartiality in the eyes of stakeholders.

The effectiveness and efficiency of the review process will depend on:

  • how well the reviewer is briefed on the task
  • the support provided to the reviewer.

Consideration needs to be given to the briefing process, orientation to relevant university processes, and the availability of resources necessary to the conduct of the review.

Undertaking the review

A review will involve a number of activities that need to be managed effectively and efficiently. These can include gathering, analysing and storing relevant information, meeting relevant stakeholders, undertaking benchmarking, visiting different locations and drafting reports. Reviewers may require assistance with matters such as diary management, relevant information and communication technology, information resources, research, travel and accommodation.

It is important to ensure that the relevant community is able to participate as appropriate. Relevant staff and stakeholders should, with reasonable notice, be informed of the review, provided with information about the reviewer (or review panel) and advised to make themselves available as required.

Evaluating review reports

The review report will be presented to the senior manager who commissioned the review. It is to be submitted in accordance with the reporting requirements in the review brief.

The relevant senior manager should evaluate the report and its findings against the original brief and, if necessary, discuss and resolve any issues arising with the reviewer (or panel) before formally receiving the report.

Acting on review findings

  • The following points set out the sequence of actions to be undertaken in response to the review findings.
  • The commissioner of the review will immediately forward a copy of the review report to the Vice Chancellor.
  • The commissioner of the review will consult and develop an appropriate response to the review findings - this includes an action plan that addresses each of the recommendations, and includes timelines and accountabilities. The commissioner will normally invite comment from the area that is the subject of the review.
  • The commissioner of the review will present the report and response firstly to the Vice Chancellor for discussion and then to the Enterprise Leadership Team.
  • The Vice Chancellor will approve an action plan after discussion with the Enterprise Leadership Team.
  • Where a nominated review is of an academic function, the commissioner will present the report and recommended action plan to Academic Board. If the related academic area lies within an academic unit, the commissioner will present the report and recommended actions to the relevant unit board or equivalent body.