Academic Programme Reviews - Academic Services - University of Canterbury - New Zealand

Academic Programme Reviews

Please refer to the Academic Reviews Policy and Guidelines in the Policy Library.


Academic reviews are a key element in the University’s Academic Quality Framework.

Objectives of an academic review include

  1. to assure the University of the quality of a qualification, by assessing whether the qualification meets expected standards
    1. at the University of Canterbury,
    2. nationally, and
    3. internationally (benchmarking objective); and
  2. to determine ways in which the qualification might be improved (enhancement objective); and
  3. to advance objectives that are specific to a qualification, for example to determine whether a qualification might be offered by alternative teaching modes, or whether a qualification is cost-efficient.

As well as the institutional objectives of benchmarking and enhancement, an academic review should therefore also be responsive to opportunities and constraints which provide the context in which it is offered.
The initial focus of a review is usually on outcomes; i.e., does the qualification meet expected and relevant standards?

Additionally, a review might explore systems and processes, especially where it is considered there is a weakness or gap in an outcome. The review report should be able to identify the processes which need to be addressed in order to achieve the standard and any improvements recommended, and suggest steps for achieving these.

Categories of Programme Review

  1. All qualifications of the University, except higher doctorates, shall be reviewed via an academic review commissioned by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) every five years. Review reports shall be made to the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic). The review schedule will be published on the Academic Services Group website (University Academic Services website). Reviews will be followed by a one-year-on report that describes progress towards the implementation of the recommendations. The Academic Services Group will have oversight of the schedule for one-year-on reports. If appropriate, an action plan will also be required, six months after the presentation of the Review Panel’s report.
  2. In addition to the scheduled reviews referred to above, ad-hoc reviews may also be commissioned. Ad-hoc reviews may be in response to a specific issue (e.g., admission criteria or when a qualification is being considered for discontinuation), or for strategic reasons. Such reviews may be commissioned by the
    • Vice-Chancellor,
    • Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic), or
    • Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the relevant college.
  3. A number of qualifications have regular reviews required by a professional body for the purposes of assuring that graduates of a qualification receive professional recognition; e.g., IPENZ review. Terms of reference for a professional accreditation review are normally set by the relevant professional body. Where possible, an academic review is undertaken in conjunction with an accreditation review.

  4. The Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) and Assistant Vice-Chancellor (Māori) shall be advised of all academic review proposals before they take place.
  5. The Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) shall commission a review of the doctorates on a cycle of not less than every 10 years.

The Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) confirms the Terms of Reference for the review, in consultation with the Pro-Vice-Chancellor.

The Panel members and a Panel Chair will be nominated by the Pro-Vice-Chancellor, in consultation with the Deputy-Vice-Chancellor (Academic) and Assistant Vice-Chancellor (Māori).
Approval of panels, including the appointment of the Panel Chair, lies with the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic).

The Review Panel will normally comprise

  • Panel Chair (normally a University senior staff member),
  • a University academic from a related discipline/faculty,
  • one or two academics from the same discipline/faculty at another New Zealand tertiary institution (at least one must be from a university),
  • one academic from an overseas university, and
  • (if relevant) one or more members of the profession or an employer of graduates.

Consideration should be given to having a student or recent graduate on review panels. The gender balance of the panel membership should also be borne in mind and at least one panel member should be able to provide appropriate advice related to Rautaki Whakawhanake Kaupapa Māori, the Strategy for Māori Development.

Panels will usually not exceed five people. Most of the panel’s work will be electronic or paper-based. Site visits will normally be of two days’ duration, preceded by an evening orientation and planning meeting. A further day may be required for analysis, formulation of recommendations and report drafting.

Reasonable travel and accommodation expenses will be reimbursed.
The Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) can advise on the review process and the Quality Assurance Coordinator (Academic Programmes) can provide support.

Step One - Commission

The review is commissioned and the Terms of Reference established.

Step Two - Collation

The review portfolio is prepared (see Appendix A in Academic Review Policy and Guidelines). The Pro-Vice-Chancellor, or a nominee as appropriately appointed, should author a self-review report.

Step Three - Review

The Review Panel considers the Self-Review Report, Portfolio, interviews key stakeholders, and evaluates the programme against the Review Terms of Reference. The Panel then prepares a draft report and makes recommendations.
Comments by the College Executive and Pro-Vice-Chancellor on the draft report on matters of fact.

Step Four - Report

Submission of the Report to the DVC (Academic) and Academic Services Group
Report distributed for comment on the recommendations to Academic Board, Academic Administration Committee, Learning and Teaching Committee, Postgraduate Committee (if appropriate)
Comments on the recommendations go back to the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic).
The College Executive discusses the recommendations and feedback received and makes decisions on their implementation.

One year after the Report is received by the Faculty a follow-up report on actions taken or not taken, in response to the review’s recommendations, is to be made by the Dean to the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) the Academic Administration Committee and Learning and Teaching Committee. AAC examines each of the recommendations against progress made. The follow-up report should also be forwarded via AAC and LTC to the Academic Board for information.

Please refer to the 2017 and 2018 Academic Reviews (Word, 18KB).

Please refer to Academic Services intranet website for completed reviews.

  • Academic Services
    University of Canterbury
    Private Bag 4800, Christchurch
    New Zealand
    Phone +64 3 369 3971 ext 93971
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