Higher Education Benchmarking

Higher Education Benchmarking Procedure

Policy Code: LT2017

Purpose

This procedure mandates how the University will review and assure the achievement of degree-level learning outcomes through conducting external benchmarking of the University’s assessment and grading of final year courses compared to similar universities. In addition, this procedure also mandates how the University will conduct external benchmarking of the University’s progression rates, attrition rates and completion times/rates against similar universities.

Scope

Program-specific benchmarking activities outside those described above should be conducted in accordance with the Review of Established Sealed Awards (Higher Education) Procedure including where a professional accrediting or registration body or similar has particular requirements for benchmarking. In such cases, a Head of School may seek permission from the DVC(A) to vary the practices in a particular school to meet any necessary requirements of an external body.

This procedure applies to all higher education award programs that are not conducted solely by research, including programs delivered at Partner Providers.

Legislative Context

  • Federation University Australia Act 2010
  • The Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency Act 2011 (TEQSA Act)

Definitions

A complete list of definitions relevant to this procedure is contained within the Higher Education Benchmarking Policy

Actions

PART A: Program-Level Benchmarking

1. Conduct external benchmarking of the University's assessment and grading of final year courses

  ACTIVITY RESPONSIBILITY STEPS
A.     Establish Memorandum of Understanding with benchmarking partner(s) DVC Academic / DVC Learning and Quality

1.     Select and liaise with appropriate benchmarking partner(s)

2.     Draft Memorandum of Understanding

3.     Gain approval from internal Legal department and benchmarking partner(s)

B.     Identify and agree on final year course study pairings to be compared with external benchmarking partners DVC (Academic) or delegate

1.          Agree timeframe with benchmarking partners.

2.          Agree proposed FedUni final year courses to be benchmarked – between two and four courses per program are to be reviewed during each benchmarking activity.

3.          Agree on assessment sampling.

C.     Prepare and provide material to external benchmarking partners in accordance with this procedure Course Coordinator

1.     Prepare and de-identify course information as outlined in Form 1 - Course/Unit Checklist including rationale for the course, information on the degree program in which it is located, description of the assessment tasks and description of the grading system.

2.   Select a random sample of assessment items and de-identify all samples as outlined in Form 2 - Assessment Checklist.

3.     Provide one copy of each assessment item with two cover sheets attached:

         I.        Form 3 - Assessment Details Coversheet (retained by the Home University).

        II.        Form 4 - Peer Review of Assessment Coversheet (sent with assessment items to Partner University).

4.     Submit package to the Head of School.

Course Coordinator

1.      Assign each assessment item a code using the protocol agreed with benchmarking partners.

2.      Submit Form 1 - Course/Unit Checklist and one copy of each assessment item with relevant coversheet to the relevant contact person at each University.

D.     Coordinate marking of external benchmarking partners’ material Course Coordinator

1.   Identify who will conduct the re-marking.

2.   Clarify timeframe and applicable requirements.

Course Coordinator

3.     Undertake cross marking and record findings using the:

      I.        Form 4 - Peer Review of Assessment Coversheet

     II.        Form 5 - Peer Feedback Form

E.   . Return to external benchmarking partner Course Coordinator 1. Return package of completed peer review forms to the nominated contact person at the Partner University.

2. Review the marking conducted by external benchmarking partners and implement recommendations where appropriate

  ACTIVITY RESPONSIBILITY STEPS
A.             Review the marking conducted by external benchmarking partners Course Coordinator 1.     Match cover sheets together to facilitate internal processing.
Course Coordinator, Program Coordinator and/or ADL&T as appropriate

2.     Review the marking conducted by external benchmarking partners.

3.     Prepare a recommendations report outlining what changes (if any) need to be made to assessments, methods and/or student grading including assessment criteria and standards for School Programs and Assessment Committee.

B.           Review recommendations and action School Programs and Assessment Committee

1.     Decide which recommendations to adopt – if no recommendations relate to changes to assessment or course, proceed to Activity C;

2.     If changes are recommended, prepare and forward to School Board as per the Modifying an Existing Course section of the Approval of New Award Programs (Higher Education) Procedure.

C.             Summarise benchmarking activity undertaken and recommendations required ADL&T 1.     Document on the centralised School register the benchmarking activity that has occurred, detailing any changes approved through relevant governance committees and any recommendations/actions taken and implemented.

PART B: University-Level Benchmarking

1. Benchmark the University's progression rates, attrition rates, completion times/rates against those of similar universities

  ACTIVITY RESPONSIBILITY STEPS
A.              Decide on an annual basis the necessary external benchmarking with partner universities DVC (Learning and Quality)

1.      Establish what data may be available that will allow cross-university comparison eg. Department of Education and Training time series student related data files for RUN.

2.      Convene meeting of internal stakeholders to discuss.

3.      Convene meeting of proposed external collaborating universities to discuss.

4.      Continue to Activity B if benchmarking will be conducted.

B.              Liaise with benchmarking partners regarding the parameters of benchmarking Director, Strategic Planning

1.      Establish which institution will carry out which component of the data analysis. These components may include, for example: enrolment, learning and assessment completions, or other areas by mutual agreement.

2.      Establish what data set(s) will be used, how it/they will be analysed and how it/they will be segmented. This may include for example,:

(a)   Enrolment: analysing the number of applications, student enrolments and student load.

(b)   Learning and assessment: analysing the student progression, retention and student pass rate(s).

(c)   Completions: analysing the number of graduates (or program completions) and the timeliness of completions.

(d)   Segmentation of: commencing/continuing, internal/external, equity demographics, attendance mode, course level, field of education etc.

3.      Establish timeframes.

C.              Conduct benchmarking As delegated by DVC (Learning and Quality)

1.     Conduct analysis as agreed with benchmarking partners.

2.     Document any relevant rules that have been used in the analysis.

3.     Highlight any instances where a collaborating university has performed significantly better or worse than benchmarking partner universities.

D.              Prepare and discuss initial findings As delegated by DVC (Learning and Quality)

1.     Develop and agree reporting template for findings and recommendations.

2.     Prepare initial findings on the understanding that they will:

(a)   Be discussed and agreed with collaborating universities.

(b)   Not necessarily be published either internally or externally.

3.      Investigate and share any insights where the university has a high/low performance for a particular metric.

4.      Reflect on/discuss benchmarking methodology/analysis and document areas for improvement where relevant.

E.             

Finalise formal findings and agree publication/

dissemination

As delegated by DVC (Learning and Quality)

1.     Add any necessary insights/further information to contextualise initialize findings.

2.     Do not publish formal cross-institutional findings unless endorsed by the DVC group and partners.

3.     Discuss any exceptions to (2) which may include:

(a)   Individual universities publishing their own findings provided that judgements and statements about benchmark performance are limited to their own university and/or

(b)   Individual universities referencing superior performance of another university subject to agreement by that university.

F.              Review findings internally and make recommendations about next steps Director, Strategic Planning

1.     Provide report to DVC (Learning and Quality). This may include:

(a)    Summary of benchmarking conducted and findings.

(b)    Recommendations for internal/external dissemination/publication.

(c)    Recommendations for the development of institutional and/or program-specific Action Plans.

DVC (Learning & Quality) 2.   Provide annual report to Academic Board.
G.              Develop and implement Action Plan(s) Academic Board 1.     Develop institutional and/or program-specific Action Plans in conjunction with the relevant stakeholders detailing responsibilities for each.
As delegated

2.     Academic Board to communicate action items to relevant university management/committees/schools to ensure implementation of specific recommendations.

3.     Academic Board to request report back on action items.

H.              Provide Academic Board with an update on progress of Action Plan(s) As delegated 1.     Academic Board to monitor recommendations through to completion.
I.                Summarise benchmarking findings and progression of associated recommendations to demonstrate continuous improvement and closing of the loop Academic Board 1.   Prepare report on institutional findings and implemented recommendations for noting by Council.
 
Deans 2.     Document on the centralised School register the benchmarking activity that has occurred and any relevant recommendations implemented

Responsibility

  • DVC Learning and Quality is responsible for monitoring the implementation, outcomes and scheduled review of this procedure.

Promulgation

The Higher Education Benchmarking Procedure will be communicated throughout the University community in the form of:

  1. an Announcement Notice via FedNews website and on the ‘Recently Approved Documents’ page on the ‘Policies, Procedures and Forms @ the University’ website to alert the University-wide community of the approved Procedure

Implementation

The Higher Education Benchmarking Procedure will be implemented throughout the University via:

  1. an Announcement Notice via FedNews website and on the ‘Recently Approved Documents’ page on the ‘Policies, Procedures and Forms @ the University’ website to alert the University-wide community of the approved Procedure;
  2. School based information sessions

Records Management

Document Title Location Responsible Officer Minimum Retention Period
Form 1 - Course/Unit Checklist School Head of School / Associate Dean Learning and Teaching 7 years after benchmarking activity completed
Form 2 - Assessment Checklist School Head of School / Associate Dean Learning and Teaching 7 years after benchmarking activity completed
Form 3 - Assessment Details Coversheet School Head of School / Associate Dean Learning and Teaching 7 years after benchmarking activity completed
Form 4 - Peer Review of Assessment Coversheet School Head of School / Associate Dean Learning and Teaching 7 years after benchmarking activity completed
Form 5 - Peer Feedback Form School Head of School / Associate Dean Learning and Teaching 7 years after benchmarking activity completed