Courses and Awards Policy

Summary

This policy describes the requirements and principles governing Swinburne courses and awards.

Objectives

This policy aims to:

  • Provide a framework to guide decisions regarding Swinburne's academic courses and awards
  • Set clear responsibilities and accountabilities for approvals and management of academic courses
  • Ensure that academic course structures, rules and approval processes are transparent, consistent and fair

Scope

This policy applies to all award and non-award courses offered by Swinburne.

Exclusions

This policy does not apply to non-credentialed courses.
This policy does not apply to research degrees, including Professional Doctorates.


1. Academic Courses Principles

When designing and approving academic courses or making changes to courses the University should be guided by the principles of:

  • Course design that supports strategic directions of the University, including provision of pathways and flexible delivery modes;
  • Course design informed by scholarship, industry requirements and external reference points, including relevant academic standards;
  • Consideration of equity and diversity issues, and cultural respect and awareness in the development of and access to courses;
  • Course design that align learning outcomes, assessment and graduate attributes;
  • Compliance with relevant legislative and regulatory requirements;
  • Course entry requirements that are set to allow the University to admit to a course applicants the University believes can undertake the course with a reasonable prospect of success.
  • Course structures and rules that provide clear and consistent completion requirements; and
  • Regular evidence-based review, benchmarking and continuous improvement.

2. Types of Academic Courses

The University offers:

  • Award courses
  • Non-award courses
  • Non-credentialed courses

An award is a qualification that is granted or conferred by Swinburne on completion of a Swinburne accredited course, Training Package qualification or VET accredited course.

An award course may be categorised as either a Higher Education course or a Vocational Education course, depending on the appropriate regulatory framework. An award course is a structured combination of approved units which when completed qualifies a student for an award. Award courses are formally accredited by Academic Senate or by an external authority with the power to accredit or endorse Training Package qualifications or VET accredited courses.

Non-award courses are courses that although recognised by the University or other relevant bodies, do not lead to a University award (see Academic Courses Regulation 71). Examples of non-award courses include ELICOS, Foundation courses, professional year programs and University Professional Certificates.

Non-credentialed courses are not regulated under the Australian Qualification Framework or other regulatory standards, and generally do not provide a basis for academic credit. Examples of non-credentialed courses are short courses.

The University may offer tagged, double, combined, dual and joint courses and awards.

The University may offer nested suites of two or more courses in accordance with Academic Courses Regulations 37 and 69.

Award and non-award courses that are accredited by Swinburne are assigned a course code as a unique identifier.

Award courses accredited by the University, or by state or national accrediting authorities are structured to form a coherent body of knowledge, skills and application of knowledge and skills, and will have a duration of learning and/or an assigned credit point value that is indicative of total volume of learning.

A unit is a component of a course which in the case of a Higher Education unit has been approved by Academic Senate and assigned a unit code and a credit point value, and in the case of a Vocational Education unit of competency, has been endorsed by a national or state authority.

The Swinburne credit point system for Higher Education award courses is a relative measure of the proportion of the volume of learning which a unit represents to a student. The total credit points for a full-time year of a course is 100, unless specified in the accreditation instrument.

For Higher Education students undertaking an industry or work placement, the duration and/or contact hours may be used as an alternative to determine a full-time study load (for example, an industry-based learning unit requiring full-time workplace attendance taken over one year is regarded as a full-time study load notwithstanding any assigned credit points).

Roles and Responsibilities (VC delegation)

Role/Decision/ActionResponsibility*Conditions and limitations
Determination of definitions and structures for tagged, double, combined, dual and joint courses and awards

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) for Higher Education accredited courses
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (PAVE) for Vocational Education courses
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Development) for research training programs

Must be consistent with the above.
Designation of a course code for Higher Education award and non-award courses, and codes for units Vice President (Students) Must be consistent with any criteria approved by the SDVC and Provost.
Determination of course structure and rulesrequirements for Swinburne accredited award courses

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) for Higher Education courses
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (PAVE) for Vocational Education courses
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Development) for research training programs

Must be consistent with the above, and noted by Academic Senate

*(Staff holding, acting in or performing the responsible position or office)


3. The Accreditation or Approval Instrument

The accreditation instrument for University accredited award courses should include:

  • A course title, abbreviation and wording of the testamur (in accordance with the Qualifications and Awards Regulation 4 and the requirements of the Australian Qualification Framework)
  • Course learning outcomes and a demonstration of how these align with the requirements of the Australian Qualification Framework.
  • Details of total volume of learning expressed as credit points and/or hours of delivery, and total duration of the course.
  • The purpose of the course and expected graduate or employment outcomes
  • Course structures and rules (in accordance with the Academic Courses Regulations 36), and the identification of Outcome Units.
  • Details of units of study, including unit learning outcomes, requisites, key generic skills, content and assessment structures
  • Minimum entry requirements (in accordance with Academic Courses Regulations 4, 5, and 6)
  • A statement of the maximum academic credit permitted for the course (in accordance with Academic Courses Regulation 23(3))
  • Where appropriate, a statement any variations to standard academic progress requirements and consequences (in accordance with Academic Courses Regulation 62(b))
  • For Bachelor Honours courses, criteria for the calculation of merit-based honours when applied
  • Details of resourcing, including academic staffing and any special facility requirements
  • Mode of delivery: face-to-face, online, blended, workplace
  • Location of delivery
  • Details of relevant external reference points or standards, including any relevant professional body requirements.

The approval instrument for University approved non-award courses should include:

  • A course title and abbreviation (course titles must not use AQF qualification titles)
  • A statement of total volume of learning and notional duration.
  • Course learning outcomes and a demonstration of how these align with the requirements of any relevant standards.
  • The purpose of the course and expected graduate outcomes
  • Course structures and rules
  • Minimum entry requirements (in accordance with Academic Courses Regulations 4, 5, and 6)
  • Where appropriate, a statement any variations to standard academic progress requirements and consequences (in accordance with Academic Courses Regulation 62(b))
  • Details of resourcing, including academic staffing and any special facility requirements
  • Mode of delivery: face-to-face, online, blended, workplace
  • Location of delivery

The University may include other information requirements within the accreditation or approval instrument, for example: rationale, justification, demand, strategic alignment or special features.

Roles and Responsibilities (VC delegation)

Role/Decision/ActionResponsibility*Conditions and limitations
Determination of the form and content of the accreditation or approval instruments for courses approved by Academic Senate

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) for Higher Education accredited courses
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (PAVE) for Vocational Education courses

Must be consistent with the above.
Must be noted by Academic Senate.

*(Staff holding, acting in or performing the responsible position or office)


4. Accreditation or Approval

Note: This section does not apply to Training Package qualifications and VET accredited courses offered by Swinburne.

4.1. Courses in New Fields

In accordance with the delegations and guidelines set by the University’s Council, Council approval is required to create a new course that is not a sub-speciality in an existing field in which the University offers courses and that requires:

  • substantial additional resources
  • external accreditation in order to be recognised.

4.2. Business Case

Academic Senate will only consider an application for accreditation or approval if a Business Case for the relevant course has been approved by the Vice-Chancellor.

4.3. Accreditation or Approval of Courses

Accreditation is the process for approval by a legislated accrediting authority of a course of study leading to a formal award qualification. The Swinburne University of Technology Governance and Administration Statute 2012 provides authority to Academic Senate to accredit courses of study. This includes the accreditation of courses offered through a partnership with a third party.

Non-award courses that do not lead to a formal award qualification may be approved by Academic Senate for delivery by the University.

A Course Advisory Committee (being a sub-committee of ASCC established in accordance with the terms of reference and membership requirements set by Academic Senate) must be constituted to provide advice and endorsement of proposals for any new award courses prior to submission to Academic Senate for approval.  A Course Advisory Committee is not a requirement for proposals for new non-award courses.

Accreditation or approval is for a period of up to 5 years.

The University will determine:

When making decisions on the approval of a course accreditation or approval proposal, the Academic Senate will consider:

  • The Academic Course Principles listed in Section 1
  • Advice and endorsement of the Course Advisory Committee

When making decisions on the approval of a course accreditation or approval proposal that involves delivery of the course through a partnership with a third party, the Academic Senate should also consider:

  • The capability and capacity of the partner to deliver the course to achieve the same learning outcomes as when or if the course is offered directly by the University.
  • The practicality of course closure and teach out arrangements
  • Regulatory compliance in accordance with the delivery location of the course

The University and Academic Senate must monitor the quality of courses that have been accredited or approved.

Roles and Responsibilities (VC delegation)

Role/Decision/ActionResponsibility*Conditions and limitations
Determination of processes for approval of course accreditation proposals.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) for Higher Education accredited courses
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (PAVE) for Vocational Education courses

Must be consistent with the above
Endorsement prior to Academic Senate approval of course accreditation proposals

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) for Higher Education accredited courses apart from those delivered by PAVE and Swinburne Research
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (PAVE) for programs delivered by PAVE.
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Development) for programs delivered by Swinburne Research

Must be consistent with the above.
For HE programs: Must be consistent with the guidelines and standards determined by the DVC(A)

Monitoring of the quality of courses Pro Vice-Chancellor (Education and Quality) Must report to Academic Senate

*(Staff holding, acting in or performing the responsible position or office)


5. Management of Changes to Courses

Note: This section does not apply to Training Package qualifications and VET accredited courses offered by Swinburne.

Changes to courses that have been accredited or approved by Academic Senate may be classified as major changes or minor changes.

Major changes to courses include the following and must be approved by Academic Senate:

  • Changes to the course title that appears on the testamur *
  • Changes to the volume of learning or course duration
  • Changes to the AQF level
  • Changes to the course learning outcomes
  • Changes to minimum entry requirements
  • Changes to the overall course structure and rules
  • The introduction of a new tagged award outcome that appears on the testamur *
  • The introduction of a new major
  • The course to be delivered in partnership with a third party

Minor changes to courses include the following and do not need to be approved by Academic Senate:

  • Changes to the composition of majors or specialisations
  • Replacement of core units in a course
  • Creation of new units
  • Changes or additions to the mode or location of delivery of a course
  • Introduction or deletion of elective units
  • Introduction of new minors
  • Changes to the composition of a minor
  • Changes to articulation or pathway arrangements
  • Changes to the calculation of merit-based honours rules
  • Changes to the following attributes of units:
    • title
    • aims
    • learning outcomes
    • requisites
    • assessment structure or strategies
    • mode or location of delivery
    • delivery method
    • key generic skills
    • content
    • credit points or contact hours

Students who are enrolled in a Swinburne accredited or approved course that is rationalised or modified with a major change shall be permitted to either:

  • Complete the course substantially as previously accredited provided that they do so within twice the normal time they would take to complete the standard course on a full time basis from the time of enrolment;
  • Transition into a mutually agreed alternative course at no disadvantage to the student.

Major changes may require the development of a transition plan for current students.

The University will determine:

  • Roles and accountabilities of staff in relation to the development and endorsement of proposals for changes to Swinburne accredited or approved courses.

When making decisions on a proposal for a change to a Swinburne accredited or approved course, Academic Senate will consider:

  • The Academic Course Principles listed in Section 1
  • Advice of the Course Advisory Committee for changes to course titles or majors that appear on a testamur (indicated by * in the list above)
  • The need for and merit of the proposed change
  • The requirement for or adequacy of a transition plan for any current students

When making decisions on a proposal to deliver an existing course through a partnership with a third party, Academic Senate will also consider:

  • The capability and capacity of the partner to deliver the course to achieve the same learning outcomes as when the course is offered directly by the University.
  • The practicality of course closure and teach out arrangements
  • Regulatory compliance in accordance with the delivery location of the course

In special circumstances, a core unit in a student’s (or group of students) enrolled course may be replaced by the University providing that the replacement unit contributes to the course learning outcomes in an equivalent manner.  A special course of study is documented for each proposed variation to course.

Circumstances where a special course of study may be approved include:

  • Where a student has only one unit to complete their course and the unit is not available in the next compulsory teaching period for the enrolled course.
  • A core unit is unable to be offered by the University due to unforeseen circumstances.

Roles and Responsibilities (VC delegation)

Role/Decision/ActionResponsibility*Conditions and limitations
Determination of the form and content of course change instruments and processes for endorsement of course change proposals.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) for Higher Education accredited courses
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (PAVE) for Vocational Education courses

Must be consistent with the above.
Endorsement prior to Academic Senate approval of major course change proposals

Head of the accrediting Academic Unit
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Development) for research training programs

Must be consistent with the above.
Proposals for minor course or unit changes

Head of the accrediting Academic Unit
Academic positions specified by the Head of the Academic Unit and approved by the relevant DVC

Must be consistent with the above, and criteria determined by the relevant DVC
Special courses of study Head of the accrediting Academic Unit
Academic positions specified by the Head of the Academic Unit and approved by the relevant DVC
Must be consistent with the above, and criteria determined by the relevant DVC

 *(Staff holding, acting in or performing the responsible position or office)


6. Course Review

Note: This section does not apply to Training Package qualifications and VET accredited courses offered by Swinburne. 

A course review process is undertaken prior to expiration of the term of accreditation or approval of a course.  The course review process is an analysis of both the quality and success of the course, and involves feedback from relevant stakeholders and benchmarking.

The review should include consideration of the following:

  • Student academic performance data
  • Student and graduate survey data
  • Graduate employment and outcomes data
  • Any Course Improvement Plans in the recent cycle, and evidence of actions that have been addressed
  • Status of professional body accreditation (where appropriate) and evidence of actions that have been addressed from any recent accreditation reports
  • A statement of alignment with the University’s strategy and course requirements or guidelines
  • A statement demonstrating ongoing viability and demand for graduates
  • An evaluation of the curriculum against any disciplinary standards
  • A demonstration of AQF compliance
  • A report and recommendation from the Course Advisory Committee

Course reviews for courses that involve delivery through a partnership with a third party must also provide evidence that demonstrates that the course delivered through the partner achieves the same learning outcomes as when the course is offered directly by the University.

The review must include documentation of a recent independent academic benchmarking activity that demonstrates the standards of curriculum, learning outcomes and assessment.

The University will determine:

  • Roles and accountabilities of staff in relation to the development and endorsement of a course review and reaccreditation or re-approval proposals prior to submission to Academic Senate for approval

The Swinburne University of Technology Governance and Administration Statute 2012 provides authority to Academic Senate to re-accredit courses of study. 

When making decisions on the approval of a course reaccreditation or re-approval proposal, the Academic Senate will consider:

  • The Academic Course Principles listed in Section 1
  • The report on the Course Review process
  • Advice and endorsement of the Course Advisory Committee for reaccreditation
  • Reports from any benchmarking activity

The outcome of a review may result in a recommendation to Academic Senate for either:

  • Reaccreditation or Re-approval
  • Cessation

Academic Senate may impose conditions on reaccreditation or re-approval.

Roles and Responsibilities (VC delegation)

Role/Decision/ActionResponsibility*Conditions and limitations

Determination of the form and content of course review instruments and processes for course review and reaccreditation and re-approval proposals, including benchmarking.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) for Higher Education accredited courses
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (PAVE) for Vocational Education courses

Must be consistent with the above.
Endorsement prior to Academic Senate approval of reaccreditation proposals

Head of accrediting Academic Unit
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Development) for research training programs

Must be consistent with the above.

*(Staff holding, acting in or performing the responsible position or office)


7. Course Teach out and Cessation

Note: This section does not apply to Training Package qualifications and VET accredited courses offered by Swinburne.

7.1 Teach out

The University may decide to terminate a course and place the course into ‘teach out’ status. Teach out is a status where no new students can be enrolled in a course.

The Academic Senate must approve a teach out or course transition plan before a course may be moved into teach out status. The teach out or course transition plan must demonstrate how each affected student can complete the course they originally enrolled into or transition to a mutually agreed alternative course at no disadvantage to the student.

A teach out plan must allow a student to complete the course substantially as accredited provided they do so within twice the normal time they would take to complete the standard course on a full-time basis from time of initial enrolment.

Wherever possible, students who have not completed the course within the period of the teach out plan will be assisted to transition into an alternative course, to complete their course by taking outstanding units at another institution or another mode of learning, or to complete their course through a special course of study.

The University will determine:

  • Roles and accountabilities of staff in relation to the development of teach out or course transition plans prior to submission to Academic Senate for approval

When making decisions on the approval of a teach out or course transition plan, the Academic Senate will consider:

  • The Academic Course Principles listed in Section 1
  • Legislative requirements
  • Teach out requirements of regulatory authorities and professional bodies
  • Teach out requirements of any formal partnership agreements
  • That there is no disadvantage to students

A course deemed to be in teach out status is still required to be accredited until all students have either completed or transitioned out of the course. Academic Senate may approve a request for an extension to accreditation for courses in teach out status. An extension to accreditation for a course in teach out status cannot exceed two years. A further extension period may be approved.

7.2 Course Cessation

Academic Senate may approve a formal cessation of a course once there are no students remaining currently enrolled.

The University will determine:

  • Roles and accountabilities of staff in relation to the a proposal for course cessation prior to submission to Academic Senate for approval

When making decisions on a proposal for course cessation, the Academic Senate will consider:

  • The Academic Course Principles listed in Section 1
  • Cessation requirements of regulatory authorities and professional bodies
  • Cessation requirements of any formal partnership agreements

The Course Advisory Committee should be informed of the outcome of a course cessation proposal.

Roles and Responsibilities (VC delegation)

Role/Decision/ActionResponsibility*Conditions and limitations

Determination of the processes for teach out or course transition plans, and proposals for course cessation.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) for Higher Education accredited courses
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (PAVE) for Vocational Education courses

Must be consistent with the above 
Endorsement prior to Academic Senate approval of course cessation proposals

Head of accrediting Academic Unit
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Development) for research training programs

Must be consistent with the above.

*(Staff holding, acting in or performing the responsible position or office)


8. Scope of Registration

This section applies to Training Package qualifications and VET accredited courses offered by Swinburne.

ASQA has issued a Delegation Instrument and an Administrative Agreement granting delegated regulatory powers and functions to the University to make changes to its Scope of Registration. Changes may include additions, deletions and amendments.

The University will nominate a position responsible for the administration of the delegation and administrative agreement who will provide notification to Academic Senate in relation to modifications to the Scope of Registration.

In accordance with the delegations and guidelines set by the University’s Council, Council approval is required to add a course or qualification to the Scope of Registration that is not a sub-speciality in an existing field in which the University offers courses and that requires:

  • substantial additional resources
  • external accreditation in order to be recognised.

Students who are enrolled in a Training Package qualification or VET accredited course offered by Swinburne that is changed, rationalised or is ceased being offered by Swinburne shall be transitioned or taught out in accordance with AQSA’s transition and teach out requirements and other General Directions. These arrangements may include:

  • Transitioning the student into a mutually agreed alternative course
  • Assisting the student to transfer to another institution that continues to offer the course
  • Assisting the student to complete the course through a supported or modified learning program

Training Package qualifications and VET accredited courses offered by Swinburne that are ceased being offered by Swinburne must be removed from Swinburne's Scope of Registration.

The University and Academic Senate must monitor the quality of courses that are on the Scope of Registration.

Roles and Responsibilities (VC delegation)

Role/Decision/ActionResponsibility*Conditions and limitations
Determination of processes for scope change proposals and management Deputy Vice-Chancellor (PAVE) Must be consistent with the above.
Approval of scope change proposals and management Deputy Vice-Chancellor (PAVE)

Must be consistent with the above
Must be noted at Academic Senate

Monitoring of the quality of courses on the Scope of Registration Pro Vice-Chancellor (Education and Quality)

Must report to Academic Senate

*(Staff holding, acting in or performing the responsible position or office)


9. Complaints, reviews and appeals

A person dissatisfied with a decision under this policy may lodge a complaint (or in some instances students may apply directly for a review), subject to the requirements of the complaints, reviews and appeals provisions of the Review and Appeals Regulations 2012.

Delegations

This policy includes, where indicated in the tables of roles and responsibilities, delegation of power by the Vice-Chancellor under section 26(7) of the Swinburne University of Technology Act 2010.

Approvals

VersionDateApproverContact
V 1.0 5 May 2014 Academic Senate Chair of Academic Senate