Conduct of reviews procedure

Intent

Reviews are an important part of RMIT's global quality assurance and improvement processes. Reviews enable the Vice-Chancellor’s Executive and the area being reviewed to reflect and:

  • obtain input from stakeholders and external experts on their contribution to RMIT's strategic objectives
  • consider how the area might develop to better support RMIT strategy into the future
  • for academic and professional disciplines and vocational education, benchmark performance against relevant academic standards in the sector or internationally as appropriate; for non-academic areas, benchmark performance against internal and external reference points relevant to their areas of operation
  • identify areas of strength or risk in relation to quality and viability.

This procedure and separate review instructions set a framework for reviews.

Scope

This procedure applies to RMIT reviews of:

  • schools and organisational units
  • offshore partnerships
  • research institutes
  • other activities, including RMIT controlled entities, as approved by the Vice-Chancellor.

Exclusions

Nil

Procedure steps and actions

1. Scheduling of Reviews

A cycle of reviews of RMIT’s schools, organisational units and other major activities within the scope of this procedure will be proposed each July by the Vice-President Strategy and Governance on the recommendation of Quality and Reviews for approval by the Vice-Chancellor on advice from the Vice-Chancellor’s Executive. Reviews will be scheduled in consultation with the relevant responsible VCE member/s and having regard to strategic issues identified by VCE members, risks, performance outcomes and contractual timeframes. Eight to ten reviews will be scheduled each year, or as determined by VCE and subject to resource availability.

Review cycles will be established as follows:

  • reviews of schools and organisational units will be undertaken every 5 - 7 years having regard to strategic priorities
  • reviews of partnerships outside Australia will be undertaken every 3 – 5 years, aligned where practicable prior to contract renewal, and may apply to any partnership outside Australia
  • reviews of research institutes will be undertaken every 5 years.

Reviews of University controlled entities will be scheduled by the Vice-Chancellor as required in consultation with the Chair of the Board of the entity and the entity’s President/Chief Executive Officer.

Quality and Reviews will publish the approved schedule on the GQRCG Reviews website and advise portfolios of reviews scheduled in the coming year relating to their operations.

2. Establishment of a Review

Six months before a Review commences, Quality and Reviews will meet with relevant senior stakeholders to inform them about the requirements of the Review process and coordinate a proposal to VCE to confirm the terms of reference and panel membership and where relevant, other specific requirements of the review process.

For each Review, the VCE member with portfolio responsibility for the area or activity being reviewed should prepare a concise strategic overview aligned with the terms of reference identifying key issues for the review to investigate, for endorsement by VCE. Where a whole portfolio or controlled entity is being reviewed both the Vice-Chancellor and the relevant VCE member, or in the case of a controlled entity the President/Chief Executive Officer, will prepare a strategic overview statement. These key issues should be addressed within the area’s self-assessment and in the Review report. Where a review involves multiple portfolios, Quality and Reviews will coordinate the development of strategic overview statements across relevant portfolios.

Reviews panels will be appointed by the Vice-Chancellor in accordance with the Instruction for each Review, having regard to nominations put forward by the VCE member responsible for the area being reviewed and the advice of the Head of the area being reviewed. Review Panels should be constituted to include:

  • internal and external members with seniority and management experience appropriate to the areas of enquiry of the review
  • a balance of relevant discipline and sector expertise and where relevant to the area being reviewed, industry or community experience and expertise
  • reasonable gender balance.

The Vice-President, Strategy and Governance may attend any Review or nominate the Director, Global Quality, Regulation and Compliance Group or an alternative senior administrative staff member to attend and inform the Panel about University strategy and operations.

3. Review process

Reviews will be conducted in accordance with relevant Review Instructions.

Input from RMIT Campuses and presences: the Campus President or entity’s Chief Executive Officer will be provided with the VCE member strategic overview and invited to identify any particular issues they would like to raise with the Review Panel in relation to their activities (input may be through written comments or video-conferencing). For Academic areas, the relevant PVC will ensure that the relevant Head of Centre in Vietnam (and equivalent positions at other campuses) contribute to the discussion of areas of concern.

4. Desk audits

As part of any review, or separately, a desk audit of documentary evidence may be conducted by the Global Quality, Regulation and Compliance Group (GQRCG), focussing on alignment with strategy, viability, quality or compliance.

Where a desk audit is conducted separately from a scheduled review, the scope and process will be determined by the Vice-President Strategy and Governance in consultation with the Vice-Chancellor, relevant VCE members or in the case of an RMIT controlled entity, the President/Chief Executive Officer. Where the scope of a desk audit extends beyond a single portfolio, the scope and process will be endorsed by VCE.

Where a desk audit is conducted a copy of the outcomes will be provided:

  • to the Review Panel for consideration as part of the Review documentation
  • to the Director, GQRCG and the Vice-President Strategy and Governance
  • to the VCE member/s responsible for the activity that has been reviewed.

Where a desk audit addresses significant institutional issues and the matters are not otherwise addressed as part of a broader review report, a summary report on these issues with recommendations for further action will be provided to the Vice-Chancellor’s Executive.

5. Action plan and follow-up processes

5.1. Action plan approval

The Review report and action plan are submitted to VCE by Quality and Reviews for endorsement of the action plan.

5.2. Monitoring and reporting

The actions outlined in action plans are to be incorporated in the relevant area's annual work plan. Quality and Reviews will request updates on action plans at the end of March and September each year and provide a summary of progress to VCE highlighting any urgent recommendations. Quality and Reviews may audit area work plans for the inclusion of items from review action plans. The September report should include a summary of achievements during the year arising from implementation of review recommendations.

Reporting on action plans continues until the responsible VCE member advises that implementation of the actions is complete, actions are well progressed and embedded in work plans, or no longer apply. Completed action plans are submitted to VCE for sign-off.

Where a review results in a recommendation that falls within the responsibilities of the Academic Board the matter will be referred to the Academic Board for consideration following the endorsement of the review report by VCE. A summary report on outcomes relating to academic matters will be provided to the first Academic Board meeting each year on outcomes from review processes conducted in the previous year.

A summary report will be provided to the first Council meeting each year on outcomes from review processes conducted in the previous year.

5.3. Follow-up of compliance issues

If during a Review or desk audit process Quality and Reviews identifies a potential significant legislative or regulatory non-compliance the matter will reported to the Director, GQRCG and referred for advice (as relevant to the issue) to Quality and Regulation, Compliance, Legal Services and / or Internal Audit groups.

The Director, GQRCG will provide a report to the Vice-President Strategy and Governance for consideration, and where appropriate, further action and advice to the Vice-Chancellor’s Executive.

Where a regulatory or compliance issue has been identified as part of a review or a desk audit, the Assistant Director, Quality and Regulation or the Assistant Director, Compliance, GQRCG will liaise with the relevant area/s to identify actions to address the matter, and will monitor the implementation of rectification actions.

6. Process improvement

After each Review, Quality and Reviews will conduct an on-line survey of participants in the review. At the end of each year, the Assistant Director, Quality and Reviews will review the feedback and recommend to VCE improvements in the review process.

7. Administrative arrangements

7.1. Record Keeping, Confidentiality and Privacy

Documents or information provided to reviews will be treated as confidential on advice to the Executive Officer or the Review Panel, or where the Executive Officer otherwise identifies commercial-in-confidence, confidential or personal information. Confidential documents should be labelled appropriately.

Review findings and recommendations will be in summary form and focussed on organisational continuous improvement. Information derived from surveys or other documents will be de-identified.

Review documentation will be held by Quality and Reviews. RMIT documents collected during a Review will be made available on request to the Head of the area that was reviewed, members of VCE, or as authorised by the Vice-President, Strategy and Governance to support continuous improvement or to address compliance risks.

Review panels are required to treat any information or materials provided during Reviews as confidential. External panel members will be required to sign a confidentiality agreement.

Review Reports and Action Plans (other than confidential materials) will be published on the GQRCG Reviews staff web site (staff access only). Where a Review report relates to confidential matters, a summary report will be published on the Reviews web site.

Review Reports and completed Action Plans will be held on the University’s Records Management System (TRIM).

7.2. Declarations of Potential Conflicts of Interest

Declarations of potential conflicts of interest should be made to Quality and Reviews by:

  • panel chairs and members, for consideration by the Vice-Chancellor in relation to panel appointments
  • persons invited to participate in Reviews, for consideration by the Panel Chair of any implications relevant to the Panel’s deliberations and the Review process.

Persons making disclosures should provide advice of any matters that should be treated as confidential.

7.3. Administrative Support

  • Quality and Reviews is responsible for administering the Review including:
  • providing Executive Officer support the review, including preparing a draft report
  • drafting an interview program for the review visit in consultation with relevant areas
  • collating and publishing documents for the Review Panel
  • facilitating the monitoring of review outcomes, managing Review record keeping and reporting on the outcome of the Review process.

The area being reviewed should nominate a senior administrative staff member to assist with arranging for participants to attend review interviews and coordinate the development and compilation of their area’s documentation for submission to Quality and Reviews.

7.4. Review Costs

For external panel members, airfares, accommodation, meals, taxis and other agreed out of pocket costs directly related to a review will be covered from the GQRCG budget.

International travel or additional costs associated with Panel members’ participation in Reviews will be subject to approval by the Director, GQRCG. Where an area requests the inclusion of international members on Panels or there are other unbudgeted costs, these may be funded by the area being reviewed, subject to agreement and approval by the VCE member responsible for the area being reviewed and the Director, GQRCG.

All receipts should be returned to Quality and Reviews.

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