Institutional Quality Assurance Process

New Program Approvals

Proposals for all new graduate programs, regardless of whether or not the University will be applying for provincial funding, require review and approval by Western’s Senate and must be approved by the Quality Council.

Institutional Process

Steps

  1. The Notification of proposal of new program or modification of current program is submitted to the Administrative Assistant to the Vice-Provost (Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies)
  2. The proposal is developed by the academic unit and subject to the Faculty’s internal approval process. The new program proposal is identified in the Faculty’s annual planning document.
  3. The proposal for a new program is received by SUPR-G; SUPR-G appoints internal reviewers and external consultant(s) to review the proposal and conduct a site visit. The external consultant(s) submits a written report of the review; the internal reviewers prepare a summary report of the review for SUPR-G.
  4. On the basis of the external consultants’ report, the academic unit’s response to the report, and the internal reviewers’ summary, SUPR-G makes a recommendation to SCAPA.
  5. SCAPA reviews the report of SUPR-G and makes a recommendation to Senate.
  6. Senate approves the new program.
  7. Provost’s Office submits the proposal to the Quality Council for approval.
  8. The proposal is submitted to the Ministry of Training, Colleges, and Universities for funding purposes.
  9. The new program is monitored by the University through the annual planning process.
  10. The first cyclical review occurs within 8 years of the first enrolment into the program.

External Consultants

All proposals for new programs will be subject to review by external consultants. Two external consultants will be chosen by the Chair of SUPR-G in consultation with the Vice-Provost (Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies). In addition to reviewing the program brief, the consultants will conduct an on-site review, accompanied by two internal reviewers selected by SUPR-G.

Consultants will normally be associate or full professors, preferably with some program administration experience, and must be at “arms length” from the program under review. “Arms length” reviewers have no family ties, partnership links, supervisory relationships or other relationships with anyone in the program being reviewed. A conflict of interest would exist in cases where the proposed consultant has collaborated or published with a member of the program within the past 7 years, has an administrative or family link with a member of the program being reviewed, has been a supervisor or supervisee (graduate or postdoctoral) of a member of the program being reviewed within the past 7 years, is a former member of the Western’s IQAP 12 program being reviewed, is a friend of a member of the program being reviewed, or has been a recent (within the past 5 years) visiting professor in the program being reviewed.

External Consultants’ Report

The external consultants will normally provide a joint report appraising the standards and quality of the proposed program. The consultants will be instructed to submit their report to the Chair of SUPR-G within two weeks of the on-site visit.

In addition to addressing the evaluation criteria, the external consultant(s) will also be invited to comment on any innovative aspects of the proposed program and to recommend any modifications for improvement.

The report of the external consultant(s) will be shared with the relevant Dean(s) and Chair(s) or Director(s) of the proposing academic unit(s) and their response to the report will be requested. In addition, the report will be shared with the Vice-Provost (Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies), who may also provide a written response.

Institutional Approval

SUPR-G will review the proposal, the report of the external consultant(s), the academic unit’s response to the report, and the summary of the internal reviewers and will make a recommendation regarding approval to the Senate Committee on Academic Policy and Awards (SCAPA). SCAPA will review the recommendation from SUPR-G and will recommend the new program to Senate for approval.

Quality Council Secretariat

Following Senate’s approval of the new program, the New Program Proposal Brief, along with the report of the external consultant(s) and the academic unit’s response, and the summary of the internal reviewers, will be submitted to the QC from the Office of the Provost and Vice-President (Academic).

Announcement of New Programs

Following submission to the QC, the University may announce its intent to offer the new program. The University will clearly indicate that the approval of the QC is pending and that no offers of admission will be made until the program has received the approval of the QC.

Implementation Window

After a new program is approved by the QC to commence, the program will begin within 36 months of the approval date; otherwise, approval will lapse.

First Cyclical Review

The first cyclical review of the program will be conducted no more than 8 years after the date of the program’s initial enrolment and normally in accordance with Western’s program review schedule.

Monitoring

The program will be monitored through the Annual Planning Process. A section of the Faculty’s annual planning document will be devoted to commenting on progress of the new program.

Final Process

Western will undergo an audit process conducted by the Audit Committee of the Quality Council. At least one of the undergraduate and one of the graduate programs selected for the audit sample will be a new program or a major modification to an existing program approved within the period since the previous audit. The audit cannot reverse the approval of a program.

Evaluation Criteria

Objectives

Admission Requirements

Structure

Program Content

Mode of Delivery

Assessment of Teaching and Learning

Resources for Graduate Programs

Quality and Other Indicators

  1. indicators that provide evidence of quality of the faculty (e.g., qualifications, research impact, teaching effectiveness, innovation, scholarly record; appropriateness of collective faculty expertise to contribute substantively to the program);
  2. evidence of a program structure and faculty research/scholarly achievement that will ensure the intellectual/scholarly quality of the student experience.