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Curtin University
Note to staff

April 21, 2008


AUQA Trial Audit Outcomes

As most of you will be aware the University underwent a trial audit last week as part of our self assessment quality assurance and preparation for the AUQA audit in October.

Thank you to all of those who participated or contributed during this last week. Over 140 staff and students were interviewed by the Panel and your time and input is greatly appreciated.

We have learnt a great deal from the Trial, with much of what we have done to date being validated but also with some feedback and clarification of what we need to improve as we continue our progress.

The Panel Chair, Emeritus Professor Andrew Lister (who chaired our 2002 audit), in his report to the Academic Board last Friday morning, complimented us on the improvements we have undertaken since 2002. He cited a number of examples of excellence which will be written up as case studies for our final portfolio submission.

However the primary purpose of the trail was to use experts as “critical friends” to point us towards the issues which are in need of additional work or explanation. Professor Lister particularly mentioned the more extensive use of data in the portfolio, the need to clarify and better explain our approach to benchmarking, and to continue the ‘impressive’ work we have begun on developing a set of academic standards.

There are three additional issues discussed at Friday’s Academic Board meeting which I wish to particularly comment on:

Work Plans
The Panel noted that work plans and attention to the MCIG had been rolled out across the University since 2002. They commented however that there appeared to be some confusion regarding the process and its value to some staff.

Since it is a requirement that staff have current work plans and have clearly understood objectives in their work, I have requested that a range of workshops be immediately implemented to refresh everyone’s skills:

  • firstly, for supervisors and managers managing the work plan and review process with their staff; and
  • secondly, for staff developing their work plans.

The Organisational Development Unit will roll these workshops out over the rest of this year so that all staff re-fresh their skills and understanding regarding the process, and so that the University can be assured that staff all understand their obligations on this matter.

The curriculum renewal project was highly commended. The Panel was impressed with the approach, the quality of the work and the progress being made in the Faculties. They queried what we would do if progress slowed or some courses did not undergo comprehensive review. A number of people have since asked me what we might do in 2010 once this phase of the project is concluded.

It is anticipated that the C2010 project will develop into an institutionalised curriculum review unit with over sight for ensuring the continual review of courses in a comprehensive and rigorous manner. The proposals will come forward in the budget process in due course and will be reported in the normal way, mostly through the reports to Academic Board.

Our shared understanding of Internationalisation
The final issue which I wish to comment on relates to our shared understanding of what internationalisation means to Curtin. It is clear from the self assessments we have done with each area and School, and from the comments received from staff, that we need to do more work to ensure we develop a shared view of what internationalisation is for Curtin in 2008 and going forward.

I will arrange for a series of events to bring various groups of people together to ensure that this shared view is developed and then communicated across the University. I will also devote some time in my University-wide address to staff this Wednesday, 23 April, to this matter as it relates very directly to the development of our new Strategic Plan which is currently underway.

The October AUQA audit is an important and useful part of the University’s quality assurance processes. In the past two years we have worked hard and improved many aspects of our teaching and learning, research and administrative processes. We have much to be proud of even though there is still much to be done to ensure we provide the best possible experience for our students and indeed for ourselves as staff of Curtin.

I look forward to working with you as we do our final preparations for the visit in October from the AUQA Panel.