1. The Elements of Quality Assurance
This Quality Assurance Framework consists of five distinct Protocols and a definition section. The Protocols (that are described briefly below) specify the minimum requirements for the internal and external quality assurance activities and the interplay between them.
The Protocol for New Program Approvals applies to both new undergraduate and graduate programs and is used to secure the academic standards of new programs and to assure their ongoing improvement. The Appraisal Committee of the Quality Council reviews the Proposals. The Council has the final authority to approve (with or without conditions) or decline New Program Proposals.
Proposals for new for-credit graduate diplomas are to be submitted for approval through the Protocol for Expedited Approvals. This Protocol can also optionally apply to requests for the Quality Council’s approval of a new field in a graduate program, as well as requests for its approval of a proposed major modification to an existing program.
The fundamental purpose for the Protocol for Major Modifications (Program Renewal and Significant Change) is the identification of major modifications to existing programs, and their approval through a robust quality assurance process. This process does not require but may include Quality Council approval, so as to assure the universities, the public, and the government of the ongoing quality of all of the university’s academic programs. While universities themselves are best placed to determine the degree of change that is being proposed, the distinction between major modifications and new programs can, at times, be difficult to determine. The Council has the final authority to decide if a major modification constitutes a new program and, therefore, must follow the Protocol for New Program Approvals.
The Protocol for Cyclical Program Reviews is used to secure the academic standards both of existing undergraduate and graduate degree programs, and for-credit graduate diploma programs (through a Final Assessment Report). The Cyclical Program Review also functions to assure the ongoing improvement of all of these programs through an Implementation Plan. Undergraduate and graduate program reviews may be conducted concurrently and in conjunction with departmental reviews, when universities so choose.
The Audit Protocol is conducted through a panel of auditors, collectively known as “the Audit Committee” of the Quality Council. Each cycle of audits spans an eight-year period and all member universities are audited at least once within each cycle. The first cycle of audits (2012-13 to 2019-20) examined each university’s compliance with its own IQAP, as ratified by the Quality Council. The Quality Council has the authority to approve or not approve the recommendations and reports of the Audit Committee.
The Definitions Section additionally contains definitions of some of the specialized vocabulary used throughout. Information on and links to best practices, guidance and templates designed to assist universities in implementing and following the Protocols, can also be found throughout the Framework.