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Accountability framework: quality cycle

Overall, the aim is to provide University Council, the Vice-Chancellor, Deans, Heads of Department and senior managers with systematic feedback on the performance of the programs for which they are responsible, and to promote a culture of rigorous self-analysis and review from which continuous improvement initiatives are identified and implemented.

The University of Melbourne seeks to conduct a comprehensive, integrated program of quality assurance that is both tailored to its own particular needs and satisfies the reasonable expectations of external quality review agencies. The University is committed to ensuring that its internal quality assurance programs are able to validate the extent of progress towards the fulfilment of its mission at University, Faculty, Department and Administrative unit levels. The University also undertakes its quality assurance activities in a manner that obviates, to the greatest level possible, the need for rework or duplicated effort in order to meet external reporting obligations.

Overall, the aim is to provide University Council, the Vice-Chancellor, Deans, Heads of Department and senior managers with systematic feedback on the performance of the programs for which they are responsible, and to promote a culture of rigorous self-analysis and review from which continuous improvement initiatives are identified and implemented.

A key feature of the quality assurance cycle is a systematic evaluation program through which key constituencies are surveyed to provide feedback on the quality of the University programs, services or outcomes in which they have a particular interest.

Through this matrix of evaluation:

The conduct of this program of evaluation on a regular and systematic basis provides valuable trend data which enable successes in continuous improvement activities to be monitored. A commitment to reporting to the Academic Board and Council on the outcomes of the evaluation surveys and the action proposed in response to survey findings ensure that academic managers are held accountable for initiating actions that will result in improved outcomes in areas identified as requiring improvement.

Academic departments and administrative units complete annual quality self-assessments, a concise but targeted appraisal as to whether they have the systems and processes in place to enable them to contribute effectively to the goals and strategies in the Strategic Plan. As indicated above, quality self-assessments will be progressively incorporated into the annual operational planning now being adopted by academic and administrative departments. A rolling four-year program of academic department audits and administrative department reviews, both reporting through to the annual Operational Performance Review, ensures that heads of department and senior administrators have the opportunity to demonstrate to the wider University community the value of their activities and the validity of their processes.

Identifying and managing risk is an inherent component of a quality assurance program within any large and complex organisation. At the University faculties and administrative divisions undertake on an annual basis a strategic risk assessment across each of their broad program responsibilities. The risk profile and management reports that result from such assessments are integrated into a University risk assessment which is reported annually to Council through its Audit and Risk Management and Finance Committees. Faculty and Administrative Division risk assessments are scheduled to coincide with preparation of annual operational plans so that the implications associated with managing identified risks are appropriately recognised and taken into account at the time of decision-making about future planning and budget priorities.

Three annual processes provide structure and strategic focus for the University's quality assurance activities:

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