Approval of New and Review of Existing Joint Programs Offered by Two or More Ontario Institutions

See the Quality Assurance Framework for a definitions of inter-institutional arrangements.

Approval of New and Reviews of Joint Programs and other inter-institutional programs are governed by the IQAPs of the participating university/universities granting the degree. Partner institutions may, but are not required to, use Joint IQAPs (which require the same approval process as IQAPs for individual institutions). Whether a joint and separately approved IQAP is used, or whether the separate institutions prefer to build their joint processes into their own IQAPs, the following are the Quality Council’s suggestions for inclusion in the IQAP related to both New Program Approval process and Cyclical Program Reviews:

The development of new and reviews of existing Joint Programs can be done jointly or can be done individually by each institution. Considerations for the creation of a new and review of an existing joint program include the following points:

  • A single new program proposal / self-study should be developed and approved by all partners that minimally addresses the Evaluation Criteria required by the relevant Protocol in the Quality Assurance Framework;
  • The new program proposal / self-study should clearly explain how input was received from faculty, staff and students (as appropriate) at each partner institution;
  • Selection of the arm’s length external reviewers should involve participation by each partner institution;
  • Selection of an “internal” reviewer might helpfully:
    • Include one internal from both partners (this is impractical if there are multiple partners); and/or
    • Give preference to an internal reviewer who is from another Joint program, preferably with the same partner institution.
    • The site visit should involve all partner institutions and preferably at all sites (with exceptions noted in a footnote[1]);
  • The external reviewers should consult with faculty, staff, and students (as appropriate for new programs) at each partner institution and as per the Framework’s requirements for in-person reviews;
  • Internal responses to the recommendations contained in the reviewers’ report should be solicited from participating units at each partner institution. Separate responses are also required by the relevant Deans;
  • All relevant internal approvals and governance steps required by the IQAP(s) of the partner institutions should be followed; and
  • All related documentation should be available on a network drive / resource at each partner institution (versus only in someone’s email) to ensure ease of access for when there may be a change in personnel/roles/responsibilities.

Considerations for the development of new joint programs only:

  • Partner institutions should agree on the year that the new joint program will receive its first cyclical review and ensure that the joint program is in the same year in each partner’s Schedule of Cyclical Reviews going forward;
  • Partner institutions should agree on the plan to monitor the new program and jointly participate in this monitoring process, as well as the subsequent monitoring reports and any other monitoring requirements;
  • Partner institutions should post the monitoring reports on their respective websites, as required in Section 2.9.2; and
  • If the Quality Council approves a new joint program to commence “with report,” each partner institution should sign off on the report before it is submitted to the Quality Council.

Considerations for Cyclical Program Reviews only:

  • Each partner institution should provide input on the development of the Final Assessment Report and Implementation Plan;
  • There should ideally be only a single Final Assessment Report and Implementation Plan;
  • The Final Assessment Report and Implementation Plan should go through the appropriate governance processes at each partner institution;
  • The Final Assessment Report and Implementation Plan should be posted on each partner institution’s website;
  • Partner institutions should agree on an appropriate monitoring process for the Implementation Plan and all monitoring reports should be posted on each partner institution’s website;
  • The Final Assessment Plan and Implementation Plan should ideally be submitted jointly to the Quality Council and co-signed by all partners; and
  • The Final Assessment Report and Implementation Plan and other review-related documentation should be shared with any incoming program Chair/Director early in the assumption of the person’s new role.

Considerations for separate institutional reviews of an existing joint program:

  • The self-study, site visit, external reviewers’ report, internal responses and preparation of a Final Assessment Report and Implementation Plan should follow the institution’s IQAP for program review;
  • A Final Assessment Report and Implementation Plan should go through the appropriate governance process(es);
  • The Final Assessment Report and Implementation Plan should be posted on the institution’s website;
  • Each institution should decide independently on an appropriate monitoring process for the Implementation Plan;
  • The Final Assessment Plan and Implementation Plan should be submitted separately to the Quality Council by each institution; and
  • The institution’s self-study, external reviewer’s report, Final Assessment Report and Implementation Plan should be shared with the joint institution, for information.

Considerations for dissolving a joint program:

Should one or more of the partner institutions wish to leave the joint program partnership and offer a standalone program only, the Quality Council will need to determine whether this can be quality assured through the major modification process, or if this rises to the level of a new program. Each situation will be unique and the Council’s decision is therefore made on a case-by-case basis.

In order to make this determination, universities are asked to provide the following details to the Quality Council:

  • A brief summary of the current joint program arrangement (for example, which universities are involved in the partnership, for how long the joint program has operated, etc.).
  • Is there already an existing “standalone” program that students can enter directly into?
  • What is the degree of “jointness” at this stage?
  • A brief explanation of the program requirements, with a focus on those aspects that are currently jointly delivered and those that are independently delivered by the institution.
  • What impact will the dissolution and subsequent offering of a standalone program have and how will those elements be offered in the future without the partner institution(s)? For example:
    • Will there be human, physical and / or other financial resource implications for no longer offering the program jointly and if so, what are these?
    • Will new courses need to be created in order to fill the gap of those previously offered by the partner institution(s)?
    • Will the program-level learning outcomes be affected and if so, how and to what degree?
    • When was the joint program last cyclically reviewed and was this review conducted jointly or separately?
    • Were there any related findings of the last program review related to the degree of “jointness” of the program?
    • Are there any governance implications arising from the separation?
    • What impact will this have on students (for example, funding, experience, research opportunities, etc.)?

[1] For all inter-institutional programs in which all partners are institutions within Ontario, the Quality Council’s standard New Program Approval and Cyclical Program Review Processes will apply to all elements of programs regardless of which partner offers them, including Ontario Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology and Institutes of Technology and Advanced Learning. For joint programs in which some partners are institutions outside Ontario, the elements of the programs contributed by the out-of-province partner will be subject to the quality assurance processes in their respective jurisdictions. The Quality Council will maintain a directory of bodies whose post-secondary assurance processes are recognized and accepted as being comparable to our own. In cases where such recognition is not available, the Quality Council will determine, on a case-by-case basis, the appropriate action to be taken on quality assurance if the collaboration is to be permitted to proceed. (Source: Quality Assurance Framework, p. 6)