Part One: Quality Assurance Principles for Ontario Universities and the Quality Council
As part of their ongoing commitment to a robust system of quality assurance that reflects international standards Ontario’s publicly assisted universities (institutions) renew their commitment to quality assurance with the Quality Assurance Framework. In particular, all Ontario universities and the Quality Council commit to the principles articulated below.
Experience of the Student
Principle 1: The best interest of students is at the core of quality assurance activities. Quality assurance is ultimately about the centrality of the student experience in Ontario. It is about student achievement in programs that lead to a degree or diploma; about ensuring the value of the university degree in Ontario, and of ensuring that our highly qualified graduates continue to be strong and innovative contributors to the well-being of Ontario’s economy and society.
Oversight by an Independent Body
Principle 2: While primary responsibility for quality assurance in all undergraduate and graduate programs offered by Ontario Universities rests with the institutions themselves, the universities have vested in the Quality Council final authority for decisions concerning all aspects of quality assurance.
Principle 3: The Quality Council operates at arm’s length from both the institutions and the government to ensure its independence of action and decision.
Principle 4: With this responsibility to grant and withhold approval comes the Quality Council’s recourse to substantial sanctions and remediation for use when necessary and as a last resort.
Principle 5: The Quality Council will have due and iterative processes in consultations with institutions, and have robust appeal processes.
Principle 6: The Quality Council itself will 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. This review will take place at least every eight years.
Autonomy of Universities
Principle 7: The Quality Council acknowledges and respects the autonomy of the institutions and the role of senates and other internal bodies in ensuring the quality of academic programs as well as determining priorities for funding, space, and faculty allocation.
Principle 8: The institutions have vested in the Quality Council the final authority for decisions concerning ratification of Institutional Quality Assurance Processes (IQAP), approval of new programs and compliance with the Audit Protocols. As the primary agents for quality assurance, all institutions have designed and implemented their own IQAP that is consistent not just with their own mission statements and their university Degree Level Expectations, but also demonstrably embodies the principles and procedures articulated in this Quality Assurance Framework.
Principle 9: The Quality Council operates in accordance with publicly communicated principles, policies and procedures. Both the Quality Council’s assessment process and the internal quality assurance process of individual institutions is open, transparent, and accountable, except as limited by constraints of laws and regulations for the protection of individuals.
Increased Responsibility for Quality Assurance
Principle 10: The Quality Council facilitates efficient institutional procedures, appreciating that processes for ensuring quality will be different from one institution to another, but requiring that all must comply with the broad processes identified in the Quality Assurance Framework.
Principle 11: The over-riding approach of the Quality Council is education, guidance, persuasion and negotiation. In this regard, the Council recognizes that institutional capacity for quality assurance differs between institutions and so resources of the system will be directed to those institutions that continue to face challenges.
Principle 12: The Quality Council recognizes past performance of institutions and adjusts oversight accordingly.
Continuous Monitoring and Quality Improvement
Principle 13: Quality is not static, and continuous program improvement should be a driver of quality assurance and be measurable. An important goal for quality assurance is to reach beyond merely demonstrating quality at a moment in time and to demonstrate ongoing and continuous quality improvement. The Quality Council is committed to sharing effective best practices in quality assurance to assist institutions in their quality improvement work.
Expert Independent Peer Review
Principle 14: Whether for new programs or cyclical review of existing programs, expert independent peer review is foundational to quality assurance.
Principle 15: The Quality Council’s standards are appropriate to the nature and level of degree programs, are flexible and respectful of institutions and international standards, and encourage innovation and creativity in degree programming. In applying these standards, documentation should be significantly relevant to decision-making, and not be burdensome.