Academic audit for Waikato University released

4 December 2015

Robin Longhurst

Deputy Vice-Chancellor Academic Professor Robyn Longhurst

An academic audit has commended the University of Waikato for several initiatives including the Curriculum Enhancement Programme, which it reports “has the potential to be transformative”.

All universities undergo regular academic audits conducted by the Academic Quality Agency for New Zealand Universities (AQA). This was the University of Waikato’s Cycle 5 Audit and it focused on teaching and learning and student support, including postgraduate. The University’s most recent audit before this was in 2010.

The Cycle 5 Audit for all universities looks at themes relating to teaching and learning and investigates whether the university has in place the activities and quality assurance processes that are fundamental in good universities. Some of these areas include student engagement and achievement, how easy it is for students to enrol and transition into university, curriculum and assessment, and supervision of research students.

AQA praised many aspects of the University of Waikato, including the postgraduate area, support of Māori and Pacific students and Library and student learning space.

The agency said the University had clear and comprehensive documentation around higher degree postgraduate supervision, and praised the overall management of postgraduate research study, including work to encourage postgraduate research students to be active members of the University research community. AQA was pleased to see the University had this year approved a School of Graduate Research.

The report made special mention of the University’s initiatives that encourage students to use te reo Māori in the submission of assessment, plus its efforts to build te reo capability in students and staff.

AQA praised the University’s Teaching Advocate programme and in particular mentioned the inclusive nature of its suite of awards which recognise teaching. It also mentioned the success of the University’s ongoing evaluation of Library usage.

The agency affirmed changes being made by the University under its Curriculum Enhancement Programme (CEP). The programme aims to deliver a dynamic and forward-looking curricula that is more relevant to changing student needs, while also meeting the needs of employers and society. Changes being introduced include ensuring that all University of Waikato graduates leave university with particular attributes and are ready for the international workplace.

The report also made some recommendations, including focusing more strongly on digital learning and ensuring teaching staff are availing themselves of the digital learning support offered within the University. The agency also recommended the University review academic practices that currently sit within its faculties and schools and develop pan-University processes for these - such as managing academic integrity, and identifying and supporting students who may be at risk of under-achieving.

The University’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor Academic Professor Robyn Longhurst has welcomed the Cycle 5 Academic Audit saying it provides a comprehensive picture of the University and has some very useful ideas for further improving its systems and services for students.

“I think it’s an excellent report. AQA’s commendations, affirmations and recommendation will help us move forward. It endorses the direction we are heading in with the CEP. External auditors are often able to provide a useful window into organisations and this report is no exception.”