Program and course life-cycle procedure

Intent

This procedure sets out:

1. the responsibilities of University committees and management for actions in the program and course life-cycle, and

2. the approval processes and documentation required for:

  • new programs and program offerings
  • new courses, course offerings and VET skill sets
  • new specialisations not linked to specific programs
  • changes to programs
  • cessation of intakes to programs and program offerings
  • discontinuation of programs and program offerings
  • transition of students where programs or program offerings are discontinued

Scope

RMIT accredited coursework programs and courses

Nationally recognised training package qualifications, skill sets and accredited courses

Short courses and non-award courses

Exclusions

VCE and VCAL programs

RMIT quality assured programs for enterprise clients

Higher degree by research programs

Procedure steps and actions:

Part A: Program and course approval processes

1. New Offerings and Discontinuations List

1.1 The New Offerings and Discontinuations List (NOD) is maintained by Policy and Planning to ensure that all stakeholder units are aware of proposals to introduce programs or program offerings, and impending discontinuations, and can monitor their status.

1.2 The Dean/Head of School proposes to their College Pro Vice-Chancellor proposals to be added to the NOD. Such proposals can include:

  • All types of program proposal requiring Gateway 1 approval (see section 2);
  • New nationally recognised VET qualifications, VET skills sets and accredited courses.

1.3 The Dean/Head of School proposes to their College Deputy Director, TAFE or equivalent, the addition to the NOD of replacement versions of nationally recognised VET qualifications and accredited courses that are classified as non-equivalent by the national VET regulator.

1.4 Requests for additions to the NOD are submitted using the New Offering pro forma.

1.5 Course and Program Administration create the program shell in the Program Guide System for any new program, program version or program offering added to the NOD.

1.6 The NOD is provided to the Vice-Chancellor’s Executive twice a year.

1.7. New programs and program offerings must be added to the NOD far enough in advance to ensure adequate lead time for marketing. Where the program is aimed at an international student market, where practicable it must be added to the list at least a year before the date on which it is intended to commence offering the program.

2. Academic and Business Case process

The Academic and Business Case process is used to assure feasibility and academic quality of proposals to develop new programs, or amend existing programs, where there are significant financial or other risks. The process may involve three approval gateways, as follows:

  • Initial review of feasibility to proceed with a program development or amendment (Gateway 1): see section 3.
  • Approval of feasibility (Gateway 2A): see section 4.
  • Academic approval (Gateway 2B): see section 5.

3. Gateway 1: initial review of feasibility and approval to proceed

3.1 The Pro Vice-Chancellor of the relevant College submits the following types of program proposal to the Vice-Chancellor’s Executive for the Vice-Chancellor’s approval to proceed (Gateway 1). (See section 3.5 for types of proposal that do not require Gateway 1 approval, and the approval process for these.)

  • A new RMIT accredited program at AQF level 5 or above
  • A new double degree from existing awards
  • A new offering of an RMIT accredited program at an approved partner or RMIT campus outside Australia
  • A new offering of a nationally recognised VET qualification or accredited course at an approved partner or enterprise outside Australia.
  • A change to a program offered at a partner outside Australia, leading to changes in the agreement with the partner, which is identified by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) and the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (International and Development) as requiring Gateway 1 approval.*
  • A new delivery of a program or VET skill-set through Open Universities Australia
  • A change of duration of an RMIT accredited program at AQF level 5 or above
  • A change to a program for Australian Qualifications Framework compliance
  • A change to a program resulting in a major resource shift across Colleges (defined as >50 EFTSL)
  • Addition to the RMIT scope of registration of a nationally recognised VET training package qualification or accredited course in a discipline/industry area not previously delivered by RMIT University; or where addition of a qualification has significant strategic and/or resource implications.

[* The Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) and Deputy Vice-Chancellor (International and Development) have discretion to identify as minor, changes which nevertheless result in the need for a change to the agreement. Minor changes to programs requiring changes to the agreement with the partner are reported to the Vice-Chancellor’s Executive.]

3.2 Before the first program to be offered at a new global partner can be submitted for Gateway 1 approval, the partnership must first undergo strategic assessment by the process set out under the International partnerships and collaborations policy and procedure.

3.3 The required documentation for proposals submitted for Gateway 1 comprises:

3.3.1 For all types of proposal except proposals to offer existing programs through Open Universities Australia (OUA):

    • a brief business case using the Gateway 1: Feasibility pro forma
    • input from relevant stakeholders in support portfolios identifying the resource requirements of the proposal (consult the Feasibility consultation matrix), and
    • the preliminary sections of the program guide (extracted from the Program Guide System) listed in the Gateway 1: Feasibility pro forma.

3.3.2 For all proposals to offer existing programs through OUA:

    • the completed OUA proposal pro forma that is included in the Gateway 1: Feasibility pro forma
    • forecasts endorsed by Financial Services Group and
    • preliminary sections of the program guide (extracted from the Program Guide System) listed in the Gateway 1: Feasibility pro forma

3.4 Approval of proposals to proceed beyond Gateway 1 rests with the Vice-Chancellor. Gateway 1 has four possible outcomes.

A. The proposal is approved to proceed for academic approval without further work on financial forecasts or analysis of the business case. (Refer to Gateway 2B below.) This approval may be given in straightforward cases such as proposals to:

  • amend existing awards for Australian Qualifications Framework compliance,
  • offer an existing award at an offshore campus where demand for the program has already been established, or
  • offer a new double degree from two existing programs.

B. The proposal may proceed subject to further work on costings or analysis of the business case to inform the decision of the proposing College Pro Vice-Chancellor. The Pro Vice-Chancellor may take the final decision on feasibility of the proposal and report this back to the Vice-Chancellor’s Executive. The proposal may not be submitted for academic approval until the Pro Vice-Chancellor has approved feasibility. (Refer to Gateway 2A below.)

C. The proposal may proceed but significant further work on costings or analysis of the business case should be done. The proposing Pro Vice-Chancellor should bring a detailed proposal back to the Vice-Chancellor’s Executive. The proposal can proceed through the academic approval process without waiting for feasibility approval. (Refer to Gateways 2A and 2B below.)

D. The proposal is not supported for further development.

3.5 The following types of program or course proposal do not require Gateway 1 approval. For each proposal type, a cross-reference is given to the section of this procedure with the appropriate approval pathway.

3.5.1 Changes to award title require academic approval only (refer to section 5 below).

3.5.2 All other changes to RMIT accredited programs are approved by College Boards, which may delegate this approval to the relevant College committee (see section 7 below).

3.5.3 Introduction of a new specialisation that will appear on students’ academic transcript but that is not part of a specific program requires academic approval only (refer to section 5 below).

3.5.4 Replacements of existing nationally recognised VET training package qualifications and nationally accredited courses, introduction of new qualifications of this type within a discipline or industry area already taught by the relevant school, and introduction of new VET skills sets, are approved by the Director TAFE, who may delegate this authority to College Deputy Directors TAFE or equivalent (see section 8 below).

3.5.5 Introduction of non-award and short courses is approved by the Dean/Head of the offering School (see section 9 below).

4. Gateway 2A: approval of feasibility

4.1 This stage of approval is required where, at Gateway 1, the proposing Pro Vice-Chancellor has been:

  • authorised to make the final decision on feasibility informed by further work on financial forecasts or analysis of the business case, or
  • asked to bring a detailed proposal back to the Vice-Chancellor’s Executive with significant further work on financial forecasts or analysis of the business case.

4.2 Where the Pro Vice-Chancellor has been authorised to make the feasibility decision, the Vice-Chancellor will indicate the additional analysis and/or costings required for the decision. There is no pro forma for the type of information or level of detail required in these cases. The outcome is reported by the Pro Vice-Chancellor to the Vice-Chancellor’s Executive.

4.3 Where a detailed proposal must be brought back to the Vice-Chancellor’s Executive, the proposal is prepared using the Gateway 2A: Business Case and Cost Analysis pro forma and the academic approval documentation required for Gateway 2B.

4.4 Final approval of detailed proposals brought back to the Vice-Chancellor’s Executive rests with the Vice-Chancellor.

5. Gateway 2B: academic approval

5.1 Academic approval at this gateway is required for all proposals listed under Gateway 1 above, and for proposals to introduce new specialisations not linked to specific programs.

5.2 Proposals in relation to RMIT accredited programs at AQF level 5 or above, including changes to award titles, are submitted for endorsement by the College Board (which may delegate this approval to the relevant College committee) and Policy and Programs Committee, for approval by Academic Board. Proposals of new or amended programs must include a completed program guide, any Gateway 1 business case forms for the proposal, and part A course guides for all new courses in the program structure, and any courses of which the learning outcomes have been significantly changed for the proposal.

5.3 Proposals to introduce a new specialisation that is not linked to a program, but which is available to any program with sufficient open electives in the program structure, are submitted for endorsement by the College Board (which may delegate this approval to the relevant College committee) and Policy and Programs Committee, for approval by Academic Board. Proposals of new specialisations must include part A course guides for all RMIT University courses in the specialisation.

5.4 Proposals to add a nationally recognised VET training package qualification or accredited course in a new discipline/industry area to the RMIT University Scope of Registration, are submitted by the Dean/Head of the relevant School, to the Deputy Director TAFE of the relevant College. These proposals must include documents required by the National VET Regulator for the accreditation/reaccreditation of programs.

6 Approval required before advertisement or commencement

6.1 No new program or program offering, or amended program offering can be advertised or commence until the relevant RMIT University approval authorities have:

  • approved its feasibility (where required), and
  • approved the academic proposal.

6.2 No new program or program offering

  • requiring Australian Commonwealth financial support under the Higher Education Support Act can commence until it has been registered with the Commonwealth Government;
  • intended to be available to international students in Australia can commence until it has been issued a CRICOS code; and/or
  • required to be registered with any other national regulator of tertiary education programs, can commence until it has been registered

7. Changes to programs and courses requiring College Board approval

7.1 College Boards may approve changes to RMIT accredited programs other than

  • those requiring Gateway 1 approval (see section 3.1 above), and
  • changes to award titles (see section 3.4 above).

All proposals for such changes must include an amended program guide.

7.2 A program guide must be submitted to the College Board for approval of any change to the list of courses in the program structure.

7.3 A part A course guide must be submitted to the College Board for any new course to be added to the program structure.

8. Approval of new and replacement nationally recognised VET qualifications, skill sets and accredited courses within the RMIT Scope of Registration

8.1 The Dean/Head of the relevant School submits the following types of proposals for approval by the Director TAFE, who may delegate this authority to College Deputy Directors TAFE or equivalent.

  • Replacement of a nationally recognised training package qualification with a new version.
  • Introduction of a new nationally recognised training package qualification within a discipline or industry area already taught by the School, where there are no significant resource implications and the qualification is intended for the same market as those already taught in the discipline or industry area. (If these criteria are not met, follow the process in section 2 above.)
  • Introduction of a new VET skill set.

8.2 Each College will establish a process to ensure that substantial amendments to replacements of nationally recognised training package qualifications and accredited courses (for instance, those involving changes in resourcing of the program and/or a substantial change to the units of competency required for the qualification) are visible to all Schools in the College, so that implications for articulation arrangements and teaching of units of competency across the College can be considered.

8.3 Such proposals include the documents required by the National VET Regulator for the accreditation/reaccreditation of programs.

9. Approval of non-award short courses

The Dean/Head of School of the relevant School may approve delivery of courses that do not result in an enrolment on the student management system, for which only a statement of attendance is issued. Such proposals comprise a short course proposal pro forma.

The School is advised to seek advice from the RMIT University Tax Accountant on GST exposure.

Part B: Program discontinuation and transition processes

11. Timeliness and forward planning

11.1 It is essential that, as far as possible, discontinuation of a program or program offering is:

11.1.1 planned in advance to identify all actions that will be required in relation to

    • teaching staff
    • students (including those on leave of absence),
    • applicants for admission (including those who have deferred an offer of admission),
    • articulation pathways,
    • related programs,
    • partner institutions and
    • professional accreditations; and

11.1.2 initiated well before a further intake commences (Discontinuation during an intake, or after commencing students have enrolled, is far more resource-intensive than timely discontinuation, and is likely to impair the student experience.)

11.2 Discontinuations must be added to the New Offerings and Discontinuations List (see section 13 below) at least six months before the intake in which it is intended to cease admissions, to provide adequate notice to all stakeholder units.

12. Approval of program and program offering discontinuations

12.1 Program discontinuations arise from the Program Annual Review and profile setting processes, where programs/program offerings are found to be non-viable or to have lost relevance, or where quality issues are identified. Discontinuations are approved by the Pro Vice-Chancellor of the relevant College in consultation with the Dean(s)/Head(s) of the relevant School(s).

12.2 Discontinuation of nationally recognised training package qualifications may also occur when a qualification is replaced by a new version of the qualification. In these cases no approval of the discontinuation within RMIT University is required.

12.3 All discontinuations of RMIT accredited programs are submitted for noting by the College Board, and the relevant standing committee of Academic Board. The submission comprises a committee submission cover sheet stating the details of the discontinuation, the program guide amended to state the discontinuation, and a completed discontinuation and transition template with appropriate attachments. The relevant standing committee of Academic Board approves the transition plan (see section 16 below).

12.4 The College Academic Development Committee monitors the list of College programs being discontinued.

13. New Offerings and Discontinuations List

13.1 Proposals to discontinue programs or program offerings are entered into the discontinuations section of the New Offerings and Discontinuations List. This ensures that communication, publication and database actions necessary for the communication are carried out in good time.

13.2 The Dean/Head of the relevant School proposes to the Pro Vice-Chancellor of the College the addition of an RMIT accredited program/program offering to the discontinuations section of the list.

13.3 Course and Program Administration requests the addition of nationally recognised training package qualifications to the discontinuations section of the list when the training package expiry date is known.

14. Cessation of intakes, inactivation and reactivation

14.1 Where intakes to a program or program offering cease, this is treated as a discontinuation, to ensure that only currently active programs/program offerings are active on the student management system.

14.2 Once the program/program offering has no more active students, Course and Program Administration make it inactive on the student management system.

14.3 The Dean/Head of the relevant School has the option of requesting reactivation of the program/program offering if it is decided to revive it after it has been made inactive. Such requests are subject to the same approval processes as new programs/program offerings: see sections 1-9 above.

15. Transition

15.1 The relevant School is responsible for supporting students and applicants for admission in their transition when a program or program offering is discontinued. Central units provide advice and support to the School in this task, and carry out actions to vary students’ enrolment and applicants’ offers. For the process a School follows in discontinuation and transition, refer to the instructions in the Discontinuation and Transition pro forma.

15.2 The School provides the completed Discontinuation and Transition pro forma to the College Deputy Pro Vice-Chancellor (Learning and Teaching), for submission to Policy and Programs Committee for approval.

15.3 Where a program is replaced by a new program version or another similar program, as far as possible students’ enrolment is transferred immediately to the replacement version or other program.

15.4 Where a program is discontinued without replacement, current students have a right to complete the program within a reasonable time-frame (full-time duration/part-time duration); offered applicants have a right to receive counselling about their study options to achieve their career objectives. The School should approach other institutions with equivalent programs to arrange, if possible, preferential entry.

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