5.2 External evaluation

5.2.1     External perspective

The IQAP will establish and describe a process for the selection and appointment of external reviewers and any others who will review the program (see Guidance), as well as the adequacy of the administrative unit’s utilization of existing human, physical and financial resources.

There will be at least two external reviewers for the review of undergraduate and graduate programs. The university may also include an additional internal member from within the university but from outside the discipline (or interdisciplinary group) of the program under review to participate in the review process. (See Guidance)

The external review of a doctoral program must incorporate an on-site visit. External review of undergraduate programs will normally be conducted on-site, but the Provost (or delegate) may propose that the review be conducted by desk review, virtual site visit or an equivalent method if the external reviewers are satisfied that the off-site option is acceptable (see Guidance). The Provost (or delegate) will also provide a clear justification for the decision to use these alternatives.

Certain master’s programs (e.g., professional master’s programs (see Definition), fully online, etc.) may also be conducted by desk review, virtual site visit or an equivalent method if both the Provost (or equivalent) and external reviewers are satisfied that the off-site option is acceptable. An on-site visit is required for all other master’s programs.

The external reviewers—normally associate or full professors, or the equivalent—will have suitable disciplinary expertise, qualifications and program management experience, and will be at arm’s length from the program under review. (See Guidance for suggestions on the selection of Reviewers and for a definition of arm’s length.) Additional discretionary members may be assigned to the Review Committee where the IQAP so provides. Such additional members might be appropriately qualified and experienced individuals selected from industry or the professions, and/or, where consistent with the university’s own policies and practices, student members.

The IQAP will also:

  1. Describe how the members of the Review Committee are selected;
  2. Describe the steps to be taken to ensure that all members of the Review Committee will understand their role and obligations, including recognition of the university’s autonomy to determine priorities for funding, space, and faculty allocation (see below), and the confidentiality required for all aspects of the review process;
  3. Identify what information the Review Committee will receive in addition to the self-study;
  4. Describe how site visits will be conducted, including how reviewers will meet with faculty, students, staff, and senior program administrators; and
  5. Describe, in the case of professional programs, how the views of employers and professional associations will be solicited and made available to the Review Committee.

Where circumstances permit, the Review Committee will submit one joint report. The report(s) (see suggested template) will:

  1. Address the substance of the self-study (see Section 5.1.3), with particular focus on responding to the evaluation criteria detailed therein;
  2. Identify and commend the program’s notably strong and creative attributes;
  3. Describe the program’s respective strengths, areas for improvement, and opportunities for enhancement;
  4. Provide evidence of any significant innovation or creativity in the content and/or delivery of the program relative to other such programs;
  5. Make at least three recommendations for specific steps to be taken that will lead to the continuous improvement of the program, distinguishing between those the program can itself take and those that require external action; and
  6. Identify the distinctive attributes of each discrete program documented in the self-study in those cases where a university chooses to simultaneously review more than one program / program level (for example, graduate and undergraduate), program modes, and/or programs offered at different locations.

It is important to note that, while the external reviewers’ report may include commentary on issues such as faculty complement and/or space requirements when related to the quality of the program under review, recommendations on these or any other elements that are within the purview of the university’s internal budgetary decision-making processes must be tied directly to issues of program quality or sustainability.

The IQAP will also:

  1. Identify to whom the Review Committee submits its report(s) and specify a timeframe for its submission; and
  2. Include a process for dealing with external reviewers’ reports that do not meet the requirements of the IQAP.