Appendix 2: Ontario Universities Council on Quality Assurance

The Ontario Universities Council on Quality Assurance (the Quality Council) was established by the Council of Ontario Universities (COU) to oversee quality assurance processes for all levels of programs in its publicly assisted universities, as of March 1, 2010.

Mission

The Ontario Universities Council on Quality Assurance is the provincial body responsible for assuring the quality of all programs leading to degrees and graduate diplomas granted by Ontario’s publicly assisted universities and the integrity of the universities’ quality assurance processes. Through these practices, the Quality Council also assists institutions to improve and enhance their programs. In fulfilling its mission, the Quality Council operates in a fair, accountable and transparent manner with clear and openly accessible guidelines and decision-making processes, and through reasoned results and evidenced-based decisions.

Mandate

The roles and responsibilities of the Quality Council, while respecting the autonomy and diversity of the individual institutions, are the following:

  • to guide Ontario’s publicly assisted universities in the ongoing quality assurance of their academic programs;
  • to review and approve proposals for new graduate and undergraduate programs;
  • to ensure through regular audits that Ontario’s publicly assisted universities comply with quality assurance guidelines, policies and regulations for graduate and undergraduate programs;
  • to communicate final decisions to the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities;
  • to review and revise, from time to time for future application, the Council of Ontario Universities’ quality assurance protocols in light of its own experiences and developments in the field of quality assurance;
  • to liaise with other quality assurance agencies, both provincially and elsewhere; and
  • to undergo regular independent review and audit at intervals of no longer than eight years.

Operating Principles

    1. The Quality Council and its processes express the commitment of Ontario’s publicly assisted universities to quality assurance and will be the provincial body responsible for ensuring the academic accountability of the Ontario publicly assisted universities both individually and as a system.
    2. The Quality Council will operate in accordance with publicly communicated principles, policies and procedures that respect the individual autonomy of Ontario’s publicly assisted universities and the role of senates and other internal bodies in ensuring the quality of academic programs.
    3. Both the Quality Council’s assessment process and the internal quality assurance process of individual universities will be open and transparent, except as limited by constraints of laws and regulations for the protection of individuals.
    4. The quality assurance processes for both graduate and undergraduate programs will as far as possible mirror each other so that quality assurance program reviews will take place contemporaneously for both undergraduate and graduate programs whenever feasible.
    5. Proposals for both new undergraduate and new graduate programs shall include the report of an initial review, conducted by external reviewers identified by the university.
    6. The Quality Council shall undergo a regular periodic quality assessment review by a review committee that includes, equally, reviewers who are external to the system and to the province, and reviewers who are internal to the system and to the province.
    7. The Quality Council or OCAV may request changes to the Quality Assurance Framework at any time, subject to approval of both the Quality Council and OCAV.
    8. The Chair of the Quality Council will make periodic reports to the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities.

Authority

The Quality Council has final authority for decisions concerning recommendations for approval of new programs and compliance with audit guidelines. In all other respects, the Quality Council is responsible to OCAV and COU.

Membership of the Quality Council

There are nine voting members of the Quality Council as follows:

  • One member, who shall serve as Chair, external to OCAV but chosen by OCAV [1]
  • Two OCAV members, one from a medical/doctoral university and one from a non-medical/doctoral university
  • One graduate [2] dean or equivalent from a COU member institution
  • One undergraduate [3] dean or equivalent from a COU member institution
  • Two Academic Colleagues from the Council of Ontario Universities, excluding those member institutions represented by the graduate or undergraduate deans or their equivalents listed above.
  • One member from outside Ontario with significant experience involving a postsecondary quality assurance organization
  • One citizen member appointed by the Council of Ontario Universities through its Executive Committee

The Executive Director of Quality Assurance will serve as Secretary, non-voting.

Members (except for the Executive Director) shall be appointed by OCAV following an open nominations process for three year terms, renewable once. Initially, to ensure continuity, there will be staggered two-year and three-year terms.

The inaugural selection and appointment of the Quality Council will be conducted by OCAV. A process for subsequent selection and appointment of members to the Quality Council shall be established by OCAV.

Appraisal and Audit Committees

The quality assurance process will be undertaken by an Appraisal Committee and an Audit Committee with responsibility for making recommendations to the Quality Council on the approval of new programs and on the audits of existing programs.

Members of these committees shall be senior academics with experience in the development, delivery and quality assessment of both graduate and undergraduate programs and shall not be members of the Quality Council. The Executive Director will be an ex officio member of these committees and will convene meetings and maintain records.

Footnotes

  1. Candidate pools may include former OCAV members, former Deans or Vice-Provosts with experience in quality assurance, former Executive Heads and others with significant experience in quality assurance at the university level.
  2. "Graduate" dean means those individuals who have principal responsibilities for the overall direction of graduate programs at their institution.
  3. "Undergraduate" dean means those individuals who have overall responsibility for undergraduate programming within a Faculty or – as may be the case – across the institution.