Murdoch University - Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency

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AUSTRALIAN
UNIVERSITIES
QUALITY AGENCY
Report of an Audit of
Murdoch University
August 2006
AUQA Audit Report Number 44
ISBN 1 877090 56 5
© Australian Universities Quality Agency 2006
Level 10, 123 Lonsdale Street
Melbourne, VIC 3000
Ph 03 9664 1000
Fax 03 9639 7377
[email protected]
http://www.auqa.edu.au
The Australian Universities Quality Agency receives financial support
from the Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments of Australia.
CONTENTS
OVERVIEW OF THE AUDIT ..................................................................................................................1
Background ..............................................................................................................................................1
The Audit Process ....................................................................................................................................1
CONCLUSIONS..........................................................................................................................................3
Introduction to Findings...........................................................................................................................3
Commendations........................................................................................................................................4
Affirmations .............................................................................................................................................5
Recommendations ....................................................................................................................................6
1 ORGANISATIONAL OVERVIEW AND CURRENT ENVIRONMENT.......................................8
1.1
Murdoch University ......................................................................................................................8
1.2
Merger Discussions with Curtin University of Technology .........................................................9
1.3
Implications for Quality at Murdoch University in the Current Environment..............................9
2 ORGANISATIONAL AND MANAGEMENT STRUCTURE AND GOVERNANCE.................11
2.1
University Organisational Structure............................................................................................11
2.2
University Management Structure ..............................................................................................11
2.2.1
Senior Executive Group .......................................................................................................11
2.3
University Governance ...............................................................................................................12
2.4
University, Divisional and School Committees ..........................................................................13
2.5
Risk Management .......................................................................................................................13
2.6
The Quality of Organisational and Management Structure and Governance at Murdoch ..........14
3 STRATEGIC PLANNING, BUDGET METHODS AND POLICY MANAGEMENT.................16
3.1
Strategic Planning .......................................................................................................................16
3.2
Budget .........................................................................................................................................17
3.3
Management of University Legislation and Policies ..................................................................18
3.4
The Quality of Strategic Planning, Budget Methods, and Policy Management at Murdoch ......19
4 INSTITUTIONAL QUALITY IMPROVEMENT............................................................................20
4.1
Whole-of-Institution Audits........................................................................................................20
4.2
Academic Organisational Unit Reviews .....................................................................................21
4.3
Internal Audits ............................................................................................................................22
4.4
Reviews of Research and Other Quality Reviews ......................................................................22
4.5
Institutional Quality Improvement Processes at Murdoch..........................................................22
5 EDUCATION .......................................................................................................................................24
5.1
Course Profile and Structures, and Academic Planning at Murdoch University ........................24
5.2
Student Recruitment....................................................................................................................25
5.3
Students — Administration and Non-academic Support ............................................................26
5.4
Student Learning and Flexible Learning.....................................................................................26
5.5
First Year Experience & Postgraduate Coursework Students’ Experience ................................27
5.5.1
First Year Experience ...........................................................................................................27
5.5.2
Postgraduate Education ........................................................................................................27
5.6
Graduate Attributes and Outcomes, and Ethical Academic Practice ..........................................28
5.7
Student Equity and Social Justice ...............................................................................................28
5.8
Support and Resources for Academic Development...................................................................30
5.9
Transnational Education .............................................................................................................31
5.10
The Quality of the Provision of Education at Murdoch University ............................................34
6 RESEARCH AND RESEARCH TRAINING....................................................................................36
6.1
Research and Research Training at Murdoch University............................................................36
6.2
Research Management and Research and Development Boards and Committees .....................36
6.3
Intellectual Property, Technology Transfer and Commercialisation ..........................................37
6.4
Key Research Strategies..............................................................................................................38
6.5
Research Training .......................................................................................................................39
6.6
The Quality of Research and Research Management and Training at Murdoch ........................40
7 ENGAGEMENT...................................................................................................................................42
7.1
Engagement at Murdoch University ...........................................................................................42
7.2
Management of Engagement.......................................................................................................43
7.3
Regional Engagement through Education...................................................................................43
7.4
Regional Engagement through Research and Scholarship..........................................................44
7.5
The Quality of Engagement Activities at Murdoch ....................................................................45
8 CORPORATE SERVICES .................................................................................................................47
8.1
Office of Human Resources ........................................................................................................47
8.2
Office of Information Technology Services................................................................................50
8.3
Office of Commercial Services ...................................................................................................50
8.4
Office of Financial Services........................................................................................................51
8.5
Office of Corporate Communications and Public Relations and Office of Development ..........51
8.6
The Quality of Corporate Services at Murdoch ..........................................................................51
9 CONCLUSIONS/LOOKING AHEAD...............................................................................................52
APPENDIX A: Murdoch University........................................................................................................55
APPENDIX B: AUQA’S MISSION, OBJECTIVES, VALUES AND VISION..................................57
APPENDIX C: THE AUDIT PANEL ....................................................................................................59
APPENDIX D: ABBREVIATIONS AND DEFINITIONS...................................................................60
Murdoch University
Audit Report
OVERVIEW OF THE AUDIT
Background
In 2005 the Australian Universities Quality Agency (AUQA) appointed an Audit Panel to undertake a
quality audit of Murdoch University.
This Report of the audit provides an overview, and then details the Audit Panel’s findings,
recommendations, affirmations and commendations. A brief introduction to Murdoch University
(hereinafter ‘Murdoch’, or ‘the University’) is given in Appendix A; the mission, objectives, values and
vision of AUQA are shown in Appendix B; membership of the Audit Panel is provided in Appendix C.
Appendix D defines abbreviations and technical terms used in this Report.
The Audit Process
AUQA bases its audits on each organisation’s own objectives, together with the MCEETYA National
Protocols for Higher Education Approval Processes (which can be found at
http://www.mceetya.edu.au/mceetya/), and other relevant legal requirements or codes to which the
organisation is committed. The major aim of the audit is to consider and review the procedures an
organisation has in place to monitor and achieve its objectives. Full details of the AUQA audit process are
available
in
the
AUQA
Audit
Manual
(which
can
be
found
at
http://www.auqa.edu.au/qualityaudit/auditmanuals/index.shtml).
On 10 February 2006 Murdoch presented its submission (Performance Portfolio) to AUQA, including 11
pieces of Supporting Material. The Audit Panel met on 6 March to consider the Performance Portfolio.
The Audit Panel Chairperson and Audit Director undertook a Preparatory Visit to the University on 4
April. During that visit, the answers to questions and additional information requested to be supplied in
advance were discussed with Murdoch, as well as the Audit Visit program, and the logistical
arrangements for that program. The Murdoch Quality Audit team were highly efficient and responsive in
providing the requested information which was mainly supplied as embedded documents on CD ROM;
this greatly reduced the amount of paper. Some of the requested course documentation was also made
available to the Audit Panel during the site visit in hard copy. The University supplied the Audit Panel
with an additional 86 requested Supporting Materials.
The Audit Panel Chairperson and Audit Director visited Murdoch’s offshore partners that had been
selected as part of the audit visit program on 18–20 April: NET Co Ltd, Kurashiki, Japan; the Singapore
School of Management (SMa), Singapore; and KDU College, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
The main Audit Visit took place over 7–11 May. The Panel visited the main South Street campus in the
Perth suburb of Murdoch for a tour on Sunday 7 May, and spent the first two full days of the Audit Visit
there. On the next day the Panel spent the morning at the Peel campus, near Mandurah, approximately
70km south of South Street, and the afternoon at the Rockingham campus, approximately 40km south of
South Street. On the final day the Audit Panel held further sessions with selected senior staff and
interviewed some additional early career academic staff.
In all, the Audit Panel spoke with over 300 people during the Audit Visits, including visits to Murdoch’s
offshore partners. Sessions were also available for any member of the Murdoch community to meet the
Audit Panel and five people took advantage of this opportunity — four at South Street and one at
Rockingham.
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Audit Report
Murdoch University
This Report relates to the situation current at the time of the Audit Visit, which ended 11 May 2006, and
does not take account of any changes that may have occurred subsequently. It records the conclusions
reached by the Audit Panel based on the documentation provided by Murdoch, as well as information
gained through interviews, discussion and observation. While every attempt has been made to reach a
comprehensive understanding of Murdoch’s activities encompassed by the audit, the Report does not
identify every aspect of quality assurance and its effectiveness or shortcomings.
This Report contains a summary of findings together with lists of commendations, affirmations and
recommendations. A commendation refers to the achievement of a stated goal, or to some plan or activity
that has led to, or appears likely to lead to, the achievement of a stated goal, and which in AUQA’s view
is particularly significant. A recommendation refers to an area in need of attention, whether in respect of
approach, deployment or results, which in AUQA’s view is particularly significant. Where such matters
have already been identified by the University, with evidence, they are termed ‘affirmations’. In this
Report the number of affirmations and observations of an affirming nature is relatively high and this
reflects positively on the thoroughness of Murdoch’s process of self-review.
It is acknowledged that recommendations and affirmations in audit reports may have resource
implications, and that this can pose difficulties for the University. Accordingly, AUQA does not prioritise
these findings; it is the responsibility of the auditee to respond in a manner consistent with its local
context.
The Audit Panel has structured this Report to generally reflect the structure of the University’s
Performance Portfolio. The last subsection in each chapter of the Report has been included to cater for
findings that either relate to the quality of outcomes achieved, or the need for improvements for that
particular area of activity.
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Audit Report
CONCLUSIONS
This section summarises the main findings and lists the commendations, affirmations and
recommendations. It should be noted that other favourable comments and suggestions are mentioned
throughout the text of the Report.
Introduction to Findings
The first AUQA audit of Murdoch University came at an important time in the University’s development.
In 2005 the University became involved in advanced discussions towards a merger with Curtin University
of Technology, until it was decided towards the end of the year “that a merger was not appropriate”. (PF
p23) Strategic planning and some high-level operational processes were effectively on hold during these
discussions and these had only regathered momentum at the time of the audit. These developments
coincided with the conduct of Murdoch’s Whole-of-Institution Audit and the preparation of the selfreview Performance Portfolio for the AUQA audit.
In the area of Education, the allocation of 470 new government-supported places to Murdoch in 2005 had
created a window of opportunity for the University to refine its academic profile and bed-down
arrangements required to generate income from other sources. From the curriculum perspective, the
embedding of graduate attributes and developments in flexible learning had reached important stages of
development, as had the need for developments in quality assurance for transnational education.
With respect to research, with the introduction of a national Research Quality Framework on the horizon,
the University was in the process of building on its already solid research performance, and was moving
to improve its realisation of commercialisation opportunities and research training.
On the community engagement front, developments were also in a state of transition, moving from a
regionally specific approach, to the adoption of a broader “scholarship of engagement” across the
University. Balancing the interests of external stakeholders during this period was significantly important.
Finally, all this was happening in a context of a growing realisation by University management through
the findings of the Whole-of-Institution Audit of the need to find an appropriate balance in the
management of the University’s human resources, to ensure that a dysfunctional corporate–collegial
tension did not develop within the University’s organisational culture. The Audit Panel considers that this
issue is critical to the success of the University.
In this context, the Audit Panel commends Murdoch for the strength of the institutional culture of identity
and enthusiasm, shared by students, staff and external stakeholders, as well as for its commitment to the
enhancement of the student experience through various means. The University gains commendations for
its approach to curriculum development; for its strong teaching and learning and research performance;
and for its commitment to the principles of equity and social justice and engagement. The University also
receives praise for its well-developed approach to Whole-of-Institution quality review.
The Audit Panel makes a large number of affirming findings and observations, this in itself being noted as
an indicator of the University having undertaken a thorough self-review. In this category of finding, the
Panel affirms the University’s decisions to: communicate more effectively with and value its staff,
especially in relation to strategic planning; review the University’s academic profile; make improvements
in risk management; pay closer attention to the timetabling of follow-up actions in response to self-review
findings, and to the timetabling of units and exams; provide greater consistency in the quality assurance
of transnational education; clearly communicate the approach to commercialisation and intellectual
property; invest in improved information and communications technology systems infrastructure; and to
implement the “scholarship of engagement”.
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With respect to recommendations and suggestions for improvement, the Audit Panel makes findings in
the following areas:
In academic governance and management: to provide greater clarity on the role of the Research and
Development Board.
In relation to education at Murdoch: to ensure that educational development and support programs
provided by the Teaching and Learning Centre and the Graduate Centre are available on a more flexible
basis; and in relation to transnational education, to check with the University’s Japanese partner if there
are any advantages in gaining recognition as a foreign university’s Japanese campus.
In relation to research and research training at Murdoch: to improve communication and disseminate best
practice in research and research training across the University, in matters such as succession planning
and mentoring.
With respect to Murdoch’s engagement with the external communities it serves: to clarify the allocation
of management responsibility for the regional campuses; and to clarify the role of the campuses in the
context of the University’s mission.
In relation to the provision of corporate services, the University needs to: assist the human resource
management function to operate more effectively within a University context; clarify its commitment to
gender equity; to improve the opportunities for early career academics, the availability of training
opportunities for Heads of School, and professional development opportunities for staff more generally;
and to extend succession planning to a whole-of-institution basis.
The Audit Report concludes with a validation of the University’s own assessment of its performance
during this period of transition, namely: “the Audit Panel agrees absolutely with the University that
during this period of transition, merging the evident corporate and collegial cultures in a sensitive and
intelligent manner will be absolutely crucial to the University’s chances of achieving sustainable success
in the longer term”. (p52)
A summary of all commendations, affirmations, and recommendations follows. These are not prioritised
by the Audit Panel, but are listed in the order in which they appear in the Report.
Commendations
1.
AUQA commends Murdoch University for its strong institutional culture of identity,
enthusiasm, and commitment shared by students, by staff, and by external stakeholders................10
2.
AUQA commends Murdoch University for its initiatives to broaden and strengthen the
funding base of the University; and particularly in terms of the commercial partnerships with
government bodies, the private sector, and other educational institutions........................................18
3.
AUQA commends Murdoch University for its capacity to provide systems and people capable
of providing the information requested by AUQA in a timely and responsive manner....................21
4.
AUQA commends Murdoch University for adopting authentic, external whole-of-institution,
cyclic quality audits, synchronised with external AUQA audit and in-house quality audit and
review cycles.....................................................................................................................................23
5.
AUQA commends Murdoch University for its ongoing and effective focus on the quality of
the student experience at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels, and notes the
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Audit Report
enthusiasm of academic and general staff and of students to ensure the continuation and
enhancement of this experience. .......................................................................................................27
6.
AUQA commends Murdoch University for the embedding of graduate attributes into the
curriculum, and the attention shown to the development of these attributes in the course
development, teaching and learning, and quality assurance processes. ............................................28
7.
AUQA commends Murdoch University for the range and quality of the enabling and
foundation units, particularly in terms of the way in which they assist students in various
equity categories and from disadvantaged and lower socio-economic backgrounds to enter the
university through multiple mechanisms. .........................................................................................29
8.
AUQA commends Murdoch University for the quality and determination of the staff of the
Teaching and Learning Centre and the libraries and their activities and resources in support of
staff and students across campuses. ..................................................................................................31
9.
AUQA commends Murdoch University for its use of Foundation Units as a distinctive feature
of the educational experience of undergraduate students..................................................................34
10.
AUQA commends Murdoch University for achieving consistently high outcomes in the
course experience questionnaire survey, and for flexibility in meeting the learning needs of a
broad array of students; such as through the creation of Careers “Combo” courses at the Peel
Campus. ............................................................................................................................................35
11.
AUQA commends Murdoch University for achieving high research performance outcomes for
a university of its age and size. .........................................................................................................40
12.
AUQA commends Murdoch University for its clear demonstration of social justice and equity
and community engagement principles, for example through initiatives such as the nursing
programs at the Peel campus.............................................................................................................44
13.
AUQA commends Murdoch University for the development of effective and close
engagement with its educational partners: on campus in the form of Murdoch College and
Murdoch Institute of Technology; with Schools and TAFE providers in the Murdoch
metropolitan region and the Kwinana/Peel/Rockingham corridor; and with its educational
partners offshore. ..............................................................................................................................46
Affirmations
1.
AUQA affirms the decision by Murdoch University to apply risk management and business
planning techniques to the financial and operational management of the assets and activities
of the University, and notes the importance of ensuring that these techniques are understood
and used effectively across the university.........................................................................................14
2.
AUQA affirms Murdoch University’s decision to focus on the drawing up of a revised
Strategic Plan; and urges the University to ensure that staff at all levels have meaningful
opportunities to actively participate in the development and implementation of the
University’s high-level plans. ...........................................................................................................19
3.
AUQA affirms the findings of the 2005 Murdoch University Whole-of-Institution Audit and
self-review for AUQA, relating to the implementation and management of change, and the
need to successfully merge corporate and collegial cultures and to ensure sufficient two-way
communications at all levels of the University. ................................................................................21
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Murdoch University
4.
AUQA affirms Murdoch University’s intention to better adhere to the timetable for
responding to, approving and reporting on the implementation of AUO Review
recommendations. .............................................................................................................................23
5.
AUQA affirms Murdoch University’s recognition of the need to deal with courses and units
with small numbers of students, the development of a more efficient and structured approach
to determining the continuation or cessation of these courses and units, and the need to focus
on the improvement of student retention and completions. ..............................................................25
6.
AUQA affirms Murdoch University’s intention to develop a more structured approach to the
timetabling of units and examinations and notes that a speedy resolution of this issue is
needed. ..............................................................................................................................................26
7.
AUQA affirms Murdoch University’s approach to bring greater focus and consistency to its
transnational education activities and relationships with overseas partners and that greater
attention should be paid to the preparation of inexperienced academic staff, and their
involvement in the delivery of their course material.........................................................................33
8.
AUQA affirms Murdoch University’s recognition of the value of adopting an innovative
approach to the scholarship of engagement in the University’s business as witnessed by the
creation of the jointly funded Regional Chairs; and agrees that closer attention needs to be
given to the recognition of this form of scholarship in the career development and
progression of staff............................................................................................................................45
9.
AUQA affirms Murdoch University’s decision to focus on improving the provision of the
information technology infrastructure and associated services; particular attention needs to
be given to ensuring all relevant staff and students, including those associated with
international partners, have an equality of access. ............................................................................50
10.
AUQA affirms Murdoch University’s intention to attend to its IT Review recommendations
as soon as possible in 2006 in order to enhance the University’s capacity to communicate
internally and externally, as well as enhance to successful functioning of all parts of the
University..........................................................................................................................................51
11.
AUQA affirms the intention of Murdoch University to align and integrate “corporate” and
“collegial” approaches to discussion and decision-making; particular efforts should be placed
on a wider array of communication strategies between the Senior Executive Group and other
staff of the University........................................................................................................................52
Recommendations
1.
AUQA recommends that Murdoch University identify the role that it wishes the Research
and Development Board to play in the academic governance and management of the
University; and ensure that this role is communicated and acted upon in a clear and open
manner...............................................................................................................................................15
2.
AUQA recommends that Murdoch University ensure that educational development and
support programs provided by the Teaching and Learning Centre and the Graduate Centre
are available to staff and students at intervals through the academic year, and where
appropriate, by blended or flexible learning. ....................................................................................31
3.
AUQA recommends that in offering Chiropractic training opportunities in Japan, including
programs introduced for the school-leaver market, Murdoch University examines with its
Japanese partner the possibility of registering with the Japanese Ministry of Education and
Training in order to gain designation as a “foreign university’s Japanese campus”.........................34
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Audit Report
4.
AUQA recommends that Murdoch University ensure the systematic communication and
integration of best practice approaches, such as research mentoring and succession planning
across the University.........................................................................................................................41
5.
AUQA recommends that Murdoch University urgently clarify and resolve the allocation of
management responsibility for the regional campuses and for the engagement of the
University with the regional stakeholders.........................................................................................43
6.
AUQA recommends that Murdoch University identify the role that it wishes each of its
campuses to play in meeting the University’s mission concerning teaching, research, and
engagement, and to ensure that the activities associated with those campuses are consistent
with this role......................................................................................................................................45
7.
AUQA recommends that Murdoch University develops within Human Resources an
enhanced understanding of the particular role of human resource management within a
University context, and in particular in the context that Murdoch finds itself..................................48
8.
AUQA recommends that Murdoch University more clearly define its commitment to gender
equity, and urgently implement an action plan to provide opportunities for women to
advance in their careers and in a range of leadership roles across the University. ...........................49
9.
AUQA recommends that Murdoch University urgently develops systems to attract, support,
and advance early career academics across all aspects of teaching, research, and engagement;
and encourages such staff to engage in the University’s strategic change processes, so they
can be actively involved in the shaping of the institution’s future....................................................49
10.
AUQA recommends that Murdoch University urgently develops systems to provide
structured training specifically designed for Heads of School and others in important line
management roles. ............................................................................................................................49
11.
AUQA recommends that Murdoch University extends the succession planning strategy for
researchers to a whole-of-university staff succession planning process as a means of
addressing the looming retirement of the cohort of long-term academic staff. ................................50
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Murdoch University
ORGANISATIONAL OVERVIEW AND CURRENT ENVIRONMENT
In addition to the statements of Mission, Vision, Values and Goals, the Murdoch Strategic Plan
2003–2007, ‘Growing Together’, includes the following ‘defining themes’:
1.
Equity and Social Justice
2.
Sustainability
3.
Global Responsibility
4.
Innovation and Entrepreneurship
The related goal statements, key strategies, or desired outcomes for each dimension of the
University’s mission will be identified at the start of each relevant section of the Audit Report.
1.1
Murdoch University
In 2005, Murdoch University had 13,503 students, with 82.6% enrolled in undergraduate courses,
a further 10.5% enrolled in higher degree courses, and the balance enrolled in postgraduate
diplomas and certificates as well as non-award studies. The University’s taught load in 2005 was
9,424 EFTSL (equivalent full-time student load), with 86% coming from undergraduate courses.
Murdoch employed 1,383 FTE staff on either a full-time or fractional full-time basis in 2005. Of
these, 39% were employed in an academic teaching or research capacity, and the remainder were
employed in non-academic positions. A more complete description of Murdoch University is
available at Appendix A, while the main organisational, management and governance
arrangements are described in section 2.
In his foreword to the Murdoch Strategic Plan 2003–2007, Growing Together, the ViceChancellor stated that: “Murdoch University is differentiated from other universities by the way
we pursue our mission. This difference lies in the emphasis that we place on diversity, human
values and sustainability. Taken together these features define the ‘Murdoch Ethos’, and are
encompassed in the Vision, Values and Defining Themes and Goals of our Strategic Plan.” (p1,
words in italics are AUQA-added emphasis.)
In its Performance Portfolio, Murdoch University introduced itself by way of reference to the
following key characteristics:
•
a research-based university with comprehensive disciplinary coverage
•
a strong commitment to innovation and an interdisciplinary focus
•
a medium-sized institution with an outstanding reputation in teaching and with a strong
research profile
•
a ‘Five Star’ Good Universities Guide rating for good teaching in ten of the last eleven
years, and
•
in 2004, ranked 8th in Australia for competitive block research grants income per full-time
equivalent (FTE) research-active academic staff.
Murdoch is also an original member of the Innovative Research Universities Australia (IRUA)
group which is comprised of six universities that were established in the 1960s and 1970s and
which are popularly regarded as ‘student focused’ and ‘research intensive’ institutions.
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Audit Report
The Audit Panel noted that the introductory ‘snapshot’ of the institution provided in the Murdoch
Performance Portfolio addressed the ‘global’ dimension of the University’s mission by making
reference to the status of transnational education at Murdoch, but that it did not cover the
University’s regional or community engagement mission, except by indirect reference to the
receipt of infrastructure funding grants. Observations and findings on the transnational education
dimension of the University’s mission are to be found in section 5 of this report, and observations
and findings on the engagement dimension are to be found in section 7.
1.2
Merger Discussions with Curtin University of Technology
In 2005, the University undertook a feasibility study of a possible merger with Curtin University
of Technology. Reports from the time indicated that the federal government had provided funding
towards the conduct of this feasibility study. The Audit Panel learned that the merger discussions
reached a critical stage at about the same time that Murdoch received the report of the Whole-ofInstitution Audit (known by the acronym WOIA) it had commissioned and was in the process of
developing the Performance Portfolio for the AUQA audit. In the Performance Portfolio, the
situation is described in these terms:
“During this process it was determined that a merger was not to proceed. While this study
provided an additional self-examination, it also meant that some activities, e.g. offshore
course approvals and an IT review, were put on hold. Murdoch has quickly begun to
progress these activities in the last few months.” (PF p5)
Not only does the Audit Panel confirm these Murdoch observations, but also it believes that the
conjunction of the merger discussions and the preparations for the AUQA audit may have
sensitised members of the Murdoch community to the distinctiveness of their institution,
heightened sensitivities to the possibility of losing that distinctiveness, and focused the
University’s questioning about its future as a continuing organisation. To a certain extent, the
future for Murdoch, with its distinctive mission was unclear until the merger issue was resolved.
For example, the Audit Panel noted that the development of the next iteration of the Murdoch
Strategic Plan was also (understandably) put on hold while the merger with Curtin was under
examination. However, once it was clear that the merger would not proceed there was a
redoubling of effort by University management to progress the development of the strategic
planning process.
For reasons that will become apparent below, it is the Panel’s considered view that it is now
vitally important that the senior management and Senate of the University take the entire
Murdoch community with them in the next stage of Murdoch’s evolution as a continuing entity,
not only within the context of its relations with other Western Australian universities, but also
within the rapidly diversifying Australian higher education sector.
1.3
Implications for Quality at Murdoch University in the Current Environment
During the Audit Visit the Panel was increasingly struck by what members came to call ‘the
passion’ exhibited by Murdoch’s staff — the large majority of whom have had a very long
association with the University, the students, and the community stakeholders — for ‘their
University’ as being a distinguishing characteristic of what was described in the University’s
Strategic Plan as the ‘Murdoch Ethos’. Even when quite critical comment was being evinced by
interviewees, it was clear that their primary motivation was either to protect or improve the
institution, so as to ensure the survival of a distinctive Murdoch identity of diversity, human
values, and sustainability as an organisational culture in a climate of change. In the context
described above, the Audit Panel found this commitment to the ‘Murdoch Ethos’ to be wholly
understandable and commendable.
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Commendation 1
AUQA commends Murdoch University for its strong institutional culture of
identity, enthusiasm, and commitment shared by students, by staff, and by
external stakeholders.
Clearly the leadership of the University, including the Vice-Chancellor and the Senate, have
much to be proud of at Murdoch. But in making this commendation, the Audit Panel wishes to
signal that it also detected some discernable threats to the continuation of this ethos.
It would be unfair not to acknowledge that these ‘threats’ are mostly products of the turbulent
policy environment in which all Australian universities currently operate, where there are
competing and sometimes opposing pressures to be resolved. There are numerous dichotomies,
such as:
•
the need to achieve and maintain high academic standards while promoting equity and
social justice principles to achieve related enrolment targets;
•
simultaneously generating fee-for-service income and trying to encourage young teachers
to become innovative and entrepreneurial as early career researchers;
while increasingly academics are being employed on a casual basis, are experiencing increasing
teaching loads, and are operating under a less academically friendly industrial relations climate.
However, there is also something in this characterisation that is intrinsically an acknowledgement
of the nature of the ‘Murdoch Ethos’ and many of the comments made in this Report reflect
positively on the strength of that ethos. In this respect, the Audit Panel especially noted two
sympathetic findings of the University’s WOIA that preceded the AUQA audit:
•
•
“Murdoch University acknowledges that to successfully implement any change, it also
needs to ensure strategies successfully merge corporate and collegial cultures, as noted in
the 2006 Audit Report”, and
“To effectively manage change, Murdoch University recognises that continuing efforts
aimed at ensuring sufficient two-way communication should be fostered by all levels of
the University”. (PF p7)
These two self-identified findings came up in a number of the Audit Panel’s deliberations
throughout the entire audit process, and are highly relevant to a number of the findings in this
Report.
AUQA is firmly of the view that finding a balanced approach to the successful merging of the
corporate and collegial cultures at Murdoch is the key to ensuring the University’s survival and
success. That balance can be difficult to find and AUQA urges the entire Murdoch community to
take on board the affirmative findings and the recommendations of this Report to sustain the
University during this period of transition. The Panel believes that it is especially important,
given the age profile of Murdoch staff, to address those findings that relate to the management
and development of the University’s early and mid-career staff.
There are further findings and comments on these particular issues to be found in section 4,
Institutional Quality Improvement, section 8, Corporate Services, and finally, in section 9,
Conclusions/Looking Ahead.
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ORGANISATIONAL AND MANAGEMENT STRUCTURE AND GOVERNANCE
The 2003–2007 Strategic Plan includes the following goal statements with respect to
organisational and management structure and governance:
To achieve Murdoch University’s strategic objectives by providing effective leadership, and
applying our human, financial and physical resources in a planned and accountable fashion.
Murdoch University should lead the way in its governance and business practices by being
ethical, innovative, efficient and effective in the provision of services to our external stakeholders
and clients. (p8)
As in the corresponding section of the Murdoch Performance Portfolio, a considerable proportion
of this section is descriptive of the University’s organisational arrangements, and this should
assist readers to better understand the organisational context for the sections of the Report that
follow. However, some audit findings that relate to particular aspects are also included here.
2.1
University Organisational Structure
At the time of the AUQA audit, the University had three Academic Divisions and three
Administrative Divisions. Academic Divisions are made up of multiple Schools. Administrative
Divisions are made up of Offices. The main organisational units are identified below as academic
or administrative:
Academic:
• Division of Arts
•
Division of Health Sciences
•
Division of Science and Engineering
Administrative:
• Division of Academic Affairs
•
Division of Corporate Services
•
Division of Research and Development
•
Vice-Chancellor’s Office, comprising the Office of the PVC (Strategy) and the Office of
Legal and Governance.
This structural arrangement requires coordination and cooperation across major administrative
units with corporate responsibilities, and academic units organised by field of study.
2.2
University Management Structure
The Vice-Chancellor (VC) heads the University, under the guidance of the Chancellor and
Senate. Pro Vice Chancellors (PVCs) head the Administrative Divisions, with associated Offices
headed by Directors, except for the Office of Legal and Governance (OLG), which is headed by
the General Counsel and University Secretary (GCUS). The Academic Divisions are headed by
Executive Deans (EDs) and associated Schools by Heads of Schools (HoS).
2.2.1
Senior Executive Group
The VC, PVCs, EDs and GCUS comprise the nine members of the Senior Executive Group
(SEG). The President of Academic Council and the Director, Office of Policy and Planning, have
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attendance and speaking rights at the SEG. The SEG is responsible for initiation and
implementation of strategic, policy and procedural matters affecting the operation of the
University and its relationships with external stakeholders. In the Performance Portfolio, the
broad areas of responsibility of the individual members of SEG are described as follows:
The VC has overall leadership and strategic direction of the University, including broad
responsibility for the academic, administrative and financial business of the University, including:
planning and resource allocation; management of the University’s operational activities, and
liaison with the University’s Senate and with Government.
The PVC (Academic) has responsibility for academic policy development and review; policy and
planning for the University’s overall quality assurance program; and policy development and
review of the University’s learning and teaching quality. This includes line management of the
TLC, Library, Central Student Administration, and Student Equity and Social Justice.
The PVC (Corporate) is responsible for the provision of effective leadership and application of
the University’s human, financial and physical resources in a planned and accountable fashion to
support the strategic direction established through the Strategic Plan.
The PVC (Research) is responsible for research and research training policy and planning,
including the commercial development of the University’s intellectual property and expansion of
both government and non-government research-related revenue.
The PVC (Strategy) is responsible for implementation of the Strategic Plan and coordination of
operational plans and the initiation and development of specific key projects in line with the
Strategic Plan, such as higher education policy, university statistics, international business
development, student recruitment, international student support, residential services, careers and
alumni.
The Executive Deans are accountable for the application at the Divisional level of the policy
direction set by the VC and PVCs, in line with the Strategic and Operational Plans of the
University, including: Management and administration of the financial, human and physical
resources of their respective Divisions, including teaching, research, consulting and community
activities, as well as development of the Divisional course profile.
These descriptions are provided to indicate that organisational and management structures for the
coordination of academic management responsibilities occurs horizontally at the point of
intersection of the portfolios of the PVCs and the EDs. Within the Academic Divisions, the
quality of the interface between the Executive Deans and the Heads of School is of critical
importance; as indicated in some sections of this Report below, there was evidence that this
interface is not optimal in some instances.
2.3
University Governance
Murdoch University’s governing body is called the Senate. In accordance with the requirements
of the Murdoch University Act 1973, the Senate has established, under authority of Statute, the
Academic Council (AC). The Senate’s primary responsibilities are:
12
•
the appointment and performance management of the VC
•
setting strategic directions for the University
•
monitoring University performance against strategic objectives, including through the VC
and AC, the academic activities of the University
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•
setting risk-management policy and critically monitoring the management of risk across
the University, including commercial undertakings
•
setting policy on strategic matters and on other matters reserved for Senate
•
setting and monitoring broad budget and planning frameworks, approving the annual
budget and business plan, ensuring that the University finances are sound and taking
major financial decisions
•
oversight of management
•
overview of any controlled entities, and
•
legislative role, including ensuring that the University is acting ethically and in
conformity with all legal requirements.
The Audit Panel noted that in the Performance Portfolio, Murdoch had identified the review and
improvement of its Senate processes and the relationship that exists between Senate and
University management as “Organisational and Management Structure and Governance
Strengths”. (PF p20) The Panel met a selection of external members of Senate and was able to
confirm that there had been recent improvements in the orientation and induction of Senators to
assist them in their governance role. These improvements reflected in part recent progress in the
induction of Murdoch Senators into the role of University governance.
2.4
University, Divisional and School Committees
The Academic Council (AC) is the senior policy body on academic matters within the University.
The Portfolio describes how “on matters of academic policy, it makes the final decision; on some
matters, it recommends to Senate.” (PF p16) The AC has a number of associated standing
committees: Academic Policy Committee (APC), Academic Quality Audit Committee (AQAC),
Assessment Committee; Committee on University Entrance; Flexible Learning Implementation
Committee; Student Equity and Social Justice Committee; and a Student Appeals Committee, a
sub-committee of the Assessment Committee.
The Audit Panel considered this to be a large and potentially problematic number of committees
to be dealing with academic matters and noted that from 2001 AC membership and its processes
and functions had been subject to several reviews, and that further review was to come. The Panel
considered that such further review could usefully focus on more obviously defining areas of
responsibility, and more precisely to ensure clarity in decision-making and accountability for AC
and its numerous standing committees.
Another important standing committee of AC with University-wide responsibilities is the
Research and Development Board (RDB). The RDB is described as “the major decision making
body on research matters in the University”. (PF p68) The RDB also has two standing
subcommittees: the Research Degree and Scholarships Committee (RDSC) and the Committee
for Centres and Areas of Research Strength (CCARS). Each Division also has a Divisional
Research and Development Committee. The Chairs of these Committees are standing invitees to
the RDB. There is further comment about the RDB in sections 2.6 and 6.
2.5
Risk Management
The management of risk is described in the Portfolio as “a governance responsibility” (PF p19),
and the University has a Risk Management Policy. The Director, Internal Audit and Risk
Management, provides education, facilitation, coordination, quality assurance and a reporting role
for risk-management activities.
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The Audit Panel reviewed the arrangements for the management of risk across the University and
examined the various risk-management plans that had been developed. The Panel reviewed the
2005 Senate Approved Strategic Risk Management Plan, noting that it contained only two
strategic risks assessed as ‘high’:
•
a high proportion of course offerings not in high demand from prospective students, and
•
lack of IT strategic planning resulting in insufficient capacity or functionality to perform
to requirements.
The significance of the first-listed of these strategic risk items was described in these terms:
“Inability to fill undergraduate loads across a breadth of courses with qualified students
who choose Murdoch first Commonwealth government supported student load in courses
is now heavily regulated. Murdoch needs to offer courses that ensure that all load
(EFTSL) for that course is filled and is made up of qualified students who have chosen
Murdoch over other options. Failure to do so will risk losing load as the options for
moving load are now limited. Similarly, failure to provide courses that are attractive to
privately funded students (domestic full fee paying and international fee paying) will
result in loss of income from this source. Therefore, we need to have courses of high
quality that students wish to study and which students choose to stay in once enrolled.”
(Quoted in AUQA Requests for Additional Information)
The item in question was subsequently reviewed at the 2 November 2005 meeting of the Audit
and Risk Management Committee (ARMC) and the risk assessment revised to “moderate” as a
result of actions that had been implemented. There are several observations and findings that
relate to this particular risk item in later sections of this Report. There is also a finding in relation
to the remaining ‘high-risk’ IT item in section 8 of this Report.
There is evidence that operational-level plans are reviewed annually by the head of the area and
their immediate supervising officer. Any operating risks that are assessed as extreme or high are
recorded in an operational risks register and action is then taken.
The Panel also noted the adoption of a “business case development” approach to guide and
evaluate key decisions, but found both the concept and application of this approach to be
differentially understood (and misunderstood) across the University. AUQA considers that the
arrangements being put in place for risk management by Murdoch are satisfactory, but that there
is a need to consider the broader use of these types of management tools across the University,
especially in the context of the acknowledged need “to merge the corporate and collegial
cultures” noted above.
Affirmation 1
AUQA affirms the decision by Murdoch University to apply risk
management and business planning techniques to the financial and
operational management of the assets and activities of the University, and
notes the importance of ensuring that these techniques are understood and
used effectively across the university.
2.6
The Quality of Organisational and Management Structure and Governance at Murdoch
The Audit Panel noted that in 2002 the functioning of AC was reviewed and a “statement of
purpose” for AC was subsequently issued. In interview sessions with both management and
academic staff, it was evident to the Panel that although the role that AC and its committees
perform in maintaining academic standards is now clearer than it had been before the “statement
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of purpose”, there is still scope for its academic quality monitoring and review role to gain better
understanding and application.
The Panel also recognised that the University had identified the “need for clear process for
renewal of membership and regular review and improvement processes for Academic Council
standing committees” as an opportunity for improvement in Organisational and Management
Structures and Governance. (PF p20) There is a strong need for Murdoch to more clearly identify
the role that it wishes AC and its Standing Committees to play in the governance of the
University; to ensure that this role is communicated and acted upon in an obvious and open
manner, and to ensure that it converges with, rather than clashes against, the responsibilities of
those in senior management roles, especially relating to research and development.
With specific respect to the role of the RDB, Statute 24 states that Board is involved in:
•
making recommendations to Academic Council on University research and development
policies and strategy
•
administering candidature for postgraduate research degrees and the allocation of
postgraduate scholarships, and
•
the allocation of research and development funds assigned to it by the Vice-Chancellor,
subject to any conditions the Vice-Chancellor may specify.
In the Research and Research Training section of the Performance Portfolio, the RDB is
described as “the major decision-making body on research matters within the University.” (PF
p68) However, the Panel noted in interviews that there was substantial inconsistency in the
understanding of the reported responsibilities and reporting relationships of that Board to AC, and
to the PVC (Research). The evidence that came to the Panel indicated strongly divergent views as
to who or what was in charge of policy and processes associated with research and development
at Murdoch. One school of thought is that AC should focus only on teaching and learning issues,
with research to be managed by RDB and the PVC (Research). The other school of thought was
that AC should play a substantial role in setting the policy and process parameters in which
research should be managed.
Recommendation 1
AUQA recommends that Murdoch University identify the role that it wishes
the Research and Development Board to play in the academic governance
and management of the University; and ensure that this role is
communicated and acted upon in a clear and open manner.
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Murdoch University
STRATEGIC PLANNING, BUDGET METHODS AND POLICY MANAGEMENT
The 2003–2007 Strategic Plan includes the following goal statements with respect to strategic
planning, budget methods and policy management:
To achieve Murdoch University’s strategic objectives by providing effective
leadership, and applying our human, financial and physical resources in a
planned and accountable fashion.
The generation of increased revenue from diversified sources is essential for the
long-term stability of Murdoch University. This will be facilitated by projection
of a strong image as a successful research-intensive university with
demonstrated pedagogical quality. (p8)
A summary of Murdoch’s overall achievement against these goals is included at section 3.4.
3.1
Strategic Planning
Prior to 2006 the structure of the planning process at Murdoch has been as follows:
(a)
(b)
(c)
(d)
(e)
Murdoch University Strategic Plan.
Four Operational Plans, one for each of the strategic goals.
Academic Divisional Plans.
School Plans (under the relevant Academic Divisional Plan), and
Administrative Office/Unit Plans (under relevant Operational Plan(s). (PF p22)
As outlined above, the proposed merger with Curtin was a transient distraction to the strategic
planning process at Murdoch; however, it also made a contribution to that process. The
Performance Portfolio put it in these terms: “It became evident towards the end of the year [2005]
that a merger was not appropriate, but the feasibility exercise along with the emerging Research
Quality Framework (RQF) and other government initiatives, brought to light the need for
Murdoch to re-examine its strategic plan so to keep itself progressive in an increasingly
competitive higher education market. To this end the revised strategic plan is being developed
this year [2006].” (PF p23)
Following the Portfolio Meeting in February 2006 the Audit Panel requested a progress report on
development of the revised Strategic Plan.
The Panel received evidence that a number of meetings had taken place. The VC gave a
presentation to and sought feedback from all staff in December 2005. After further discussions by
SEG and Senate, the VC gave a second presentation entitled “The Way Ahead – Key
Considerations for the Review of the 2003-2007 Murdoch University Strategic Plan”. A series of
staff consultations were scheduled to occur in the second half of May, with one session per key
strategic priority area: Education; Research and Development; Student Recruitment; and
Corporate Services
There was also a stated intention for senior management to provide presentations at the
Divisional level designed to “further engage the University community in the preparation of the
Strategic Plan 2006–2010”.
The Audit Panel formed the view that this pattern of events was consistent with the
recommendations of the 2005 WOIA noted in section 1, “to merge corporate and collegial
cultures” aimed at “ensuring sufficient two-way communication should be fostered by all levels
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of the University”, but was concerned that the ‘People and Culture’ strategic priority risked being
quarantined to discussions within the Corporate Services area.
The Audit Panel noted that in the Strategic Plan 2006–2010 presentation materials, the future
structure of the planning system was presented thus:
•
University Vision
•
University Mission
•
Strategic Priorities (Goals)
—
Key Strategies
—
Key Performance Indicators
•
Administration Office/Unit Plans
•
Academic Divisional Plans
•
Research Centre Plans/School Plans.
There is further comment and a finding in relation to the University’s approach to Strategic
Planning in section 3.4.
3.2
Budget
The University’s current Mission statement says:
“Murdoch University will have increased financial reserves and more diverse sources of
income as a result of an entrepreneurial outlook combined with prudent management that
will ensure long-term independence.” (p2)
The Performance Portfolio provided an overview of the University’s current financial situation,
and the budget process, including its review and improvement, was provided, including mention
of the Budget Book, Description of the Operating Budget 2006, which is available in hard copy
and on the Web for staff to view. Financial papers included with the University’s Annual Report
indicate that the University’s overall financial position had improved in recent years, but that
year-to-year comparisons were complicated by the timing of the receipt of some large grants.
The University has benefited considerably from additional Commonwealth places and is currently
operating with a modest surplus, it had not quite met the total weighted load target in 2005, the
‘pipeline’ effect and funding for complying with National Governance Protocols and workplace
compliance requirements, the Learning and Teaching Performance Fund, and for “better than
national average funding” performance in competitive block grants in Research. There is thus a
window of both ‘opportunities and risks’ for Murdoch to “achieve a sound financial performance
over the next three to five years” (PF p25).
The Audit Panel requested additional information on the deployment of the budget process,
including detailed financial performance data at the organisational unit level and was generally
satisfied with the information provided, which indicated that the process has the capability to
satisfactorily deal with such requests.
In his ‘The Way Ahead’ presentation to the Murdoch community, the Vice-Chancellor had this to
say under the heading “Getting the Balance Right”:
“Critically we must ensure that the breadth of our activity must not exceed our capacity
to resource courses of requisite quality.”
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Elsewhere in this presentation the Vice-Chancellor characterised the nature of the financial
situation confronting the University in these terms:
•
public funding subsidies for disciplines are not well matched to the actual costs of
delivery
•
operating grants have not kept pace costs of infrastructure and service delivery for some
years
•
projections for school leavers and mature age students in WA were static
•
there is increased competition from private providers through their access to Fee Help
•
research, already highly competitive, about to become even more so through the RQF
•
the need for Murdoch to grow funding from a range of other sources, including
endowment, and
•
the need for Murdoch to develop commercial acumen in all activities with a view to
increasing efficiency and financial returns.
The Audit Panel had the opportunity to test a number of these propositions during the Audit Visit
and commends the University for adopting a proactive stance in order to ensure its “long-term
independence”. This approach is consistent with the “course offerings not in high demand”
strategic risk argument identified in section 2 above.
Commendation 2
AUQA commends Murdoch University for its initiatives to broaden and
strengthen the funding base of the University; and particularly in terms of
the commercial partnerships with government bodies, the private sector,
and other educational institutions.
For examples of these initiatives, see findings in later sections of this Report on educational
partnerships, research commercialisation, community engagement, and the work of the Murdoch
University Foundation at section 8.
3.3
Management of University Legislation and Policies
The Audit Panel noted the following:
•
Senate approves those policies reserved for the exercise of its legislative responsibilities
•
AC approves most academic and research policies, but some are approved by the VC on
the recommendation of Council
•
the VC is authorised to approve Human Resources policies, but that this responsibility
had been delegated to the Director of Human Resources, and the VC’s responsibilities for
financial policies had been similarly delegated to the PVC (C)
•
Divisional policies are approved by the EDs and School policies by Heads of School
(HoS), and
•
though there are a number of ways in which policy dissemination and compliance is
handled, there was “no formal mechanism for disseminating approved delegations” and
there were “a number of methods for accessing information on delegations, but none were
current.” (PF p31)
The section on policies in the Portfolio concluded with the following self-review findings:
“Despite the procedures described above, the University sees policy compliance as an area where
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further improvement can be made”; and, “Review and other legislation and policies tend to be
non-compliance driven or where flagged as part of internal or external audits…..There is no
formal review cycle comparable to that established for academic policies.” (PF p32)
AUQA agrees with the need to review policy and process throughout the organisation; and notes
the need for a more systematic and consistent approach to ensuring that relevant
recommendations are included in the ongoing operations of the University.
3.4
The Quality of Strategic Planning, Budget Methods, and Policy Management at Murdoch
The Audit Panel formed the view that by taking a more coherent and longer-term view, the
University was heading in the right direction. This was most evident in: the recent revitalisation
of the strategic planning process post completion of the merger discussions, and which should
now involve more opportunities for ‘bottom-up’ involvement by staff; the recognition by the
University of the need to broaden its funding base and become more efficient and effective; and
through further encouragement of the development of an organisational culture of good policy
management.
Affirmation 2
AUQA affirms Murdoch University’s decision to focus on the drawing up of
a revised Strategic Plan; and urges the University to ensure that staff at all
levels have meaningful opportunities to actively participate in the
development and implementation of the University’s high-level plans.
For other observations in relation to this finding, please see closing comments of this Report in
section 9.
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4
Murdoch University
INSTITUTIONAL QUALITY IMPROVEMENT
The 2003–2007 Strategic Plan includes the following goal statement with respect to institutional
quality improvement in order to provide “high quality contemporary education”:
The notion of quality improvement will infuse our processes and culture.
Mechanisms such as accreditation, fitness for purpose analysis through quality
audit and benchmarking will inform our self-reflection. Improved outcomes will
be achieved through regular review and implementation of necessary changes. (p5)
A summary of Murdoch’s overall achievements with respect to this quality improvement goal is
in section 4.5.
In the Performance Portfolio, the overview of the chapter entitled Institutional Quality
Improvement stated that Murdoch’s internal review processes include the following: “Whole-ofInstitution Audit (known by the acronym WOIA), Academic Organisational Unit (AOU) [School]
Reviews, internal audits and reviews of research centres and Areas of Research Strength (ARS).”
(PF p34)
4.1
Whole-of-Institution Audits
The Portfolio describes how when the Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training
and Youth Affairs (MCEETYA) formally established AUQA in March 2000, the University
immediately expanded its five-yearly reviews to include university-wide audits. The Audit Panel
noted that the University’s first WOIA was undertaken in November 2000, and its report was
released in April 2001.
The Panel also noted that in line with a five-yearly cycle for such reviews, Murdoch conducted its
second WOIA in November 2005. The structure of the 2005 WOIA Performance Portfolio was
influenced by AUQA’s audit practices, and an AUQA auditor chaired the WOIA panel. That
panel’s report was released in January 2006 and the full WOIA report was included in Murdoch’s
2006 Performance Portfolio for AUQA.
Key documents reviewed by the AUQA Audit Panel were the WOIA Implementation Plan —
Progress Reports. The Audit Panel received several of these for the 2005–2006 WOIA, including
one dated “as at 06 May”, that is, the day prior to commencement of the Audit Visit. This just-intime approach was taken by the Panel as an example of the thoroughness of the progress
reporting provided to AUQA.
The WOIA Implementation Plan reports are structured according to the findings of the WOIA
reports — firstly, the recommendations and then the affirmations. The 2006 WOIA Audit Report
made five recommendations and twelve affirmations that were to be read with the 44 subUniversity level “self-identified opportunities for improvement”. All of these are included in the
WOIA Implementation Plan: for each Area of Improvement, the University has specified the
officer responsible, the implementation strategy, target date(s) and evidence of progress.
Of these 56 improvement items, the Audit Panel noted that not only had the high-level
recommendations of the 2006 WOIA Audit Report that dealt with the management of change and
merging of corporate and collegial cultures at Murdoch made their way into the WOIA
Implementation Plan, but also they had been picked up in the AUQA Performance Portfolio. The
Audit Panel noted that responsibility for actions in response to these recommendations lay with
the Executive Deans, the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Corporate), and the Vice-Chancellor. The Panel
affirms the value and importance of these recommendations and planned actions, and underscores
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the need to “successfully merge corporate and collegial cultures” and to “ensure sufficient twoway communications…at all levels of the University.”
Affirmation 3
AUQA affirms the findings of the 2005 Murdoch University Whole-ofInstitution Audit and self-review for AUQA, relating to the implementation
and management of change, and the need to successfully merge corporate
and collegial cultures and to ensure sufficient two-way communications at
all levels of the University.
With respect to the impact that the adoption by Murdoch of such a thorough whole-of-institution
quality review process can have, attention is drawn to the high number of Affirmations and other
positive observations that are made in this Report, and in particular to Affirmation 11 in section 9.
Overall findings with respect to WOIAs and the other internal quality review processes at
Murdoch are made in section 4.5. However, in preparing for the Murdoch audit, and during all
phases of the audit process the AUQA, the Audit Panel was struck by the highly professional
approach to quality review exhibited by the University’s Quality Audit team, and by their ability
to respond to all the Panel’s requests for additional information in a timely and effective manner.
Commendation 3
AUQA commends Murdoch University for its capacity to provide systems
and people capable of providing the information requested by AUQA in a
timely and responsive manner.
The Panel believes that this capability should now be directed towards more effective retrieval of
information for in-house management applications.
4.2
Academic Organisational Unit Reviews
Additional to the cyclic high-level WOIAs are the cyclic reviews of AOUs.
The Academic Council (AC) introduced five-yearly “Programme Reviews” in 1994. The
guidelines for these reviews were substantially revised so that they were undertaken at the School
level, which could then include a number of “programmes” (now known as courses).
AC then extended these ‘School Reviews’ to include the Library, offshore courses, Foundation
Units, bridging and enabling courses, the Teaching and Learning Centre (TLC) and student
services. Initially, individual policies were developed for each of these AOUs based on the
Guidelines for School Reviews. However, as many of the requirements overlapped, a single
unified policy on AOU Reviews was approved in November 2005.
The Audit Panel noted that the AOU review process has the same pattern of self review followed
by peer review as subsequently adopted for WOIA and as used by AUQA, with each AOU
review panel consisting of three members with expertise in the area of the AOU under review,
including a Chair and member external to the University, and the third member drawn from
another part of the University. The Audit Panel also noted that it can take up to six months for
AOU recommendations to be considered by AC, but that similar to the WOIAs, the Academic
Quality Audit Committee (AQAC, another standing committee of AC) also monitors the progress
of AOU reviews. The Panel noted that the follow-up on recommendations from AOU reviews,
however, is inconsistent, and is an aspect that requires attention, and this is something that
AUQA will be following up in subsequent audits.
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The Audit Panel also agreed with the University’s intention to provide easier access to statistical
data for School and other reviews and noted the progress towards this detailed in the WOIA
Implementation Plan (Progress as at 6 May 2006), pp30-31.
4.3
Internal Audits
On the non-academic review side, the Act and Financial Administration and Audit Act 1985
(amended 2005) requires the University to have an effective internal audit function. Senate has
the Audit and Risk Management Committee (ARMC) to oversee internal audit and riskmanagement activities, which are undertaken by Internal Audit and Risk Management (IA&RM).
ARMC forwards an annual report to the Senate covering the extent to which it has achieved the
Senate’s terms of reference for the committee, including IA&RM performance against key
performance indicators (KPIs).
The Portfolio argues that IA&RM ensures the quality of its operations via a number of
mechanisms, including independent external peer-review every five years, annual reviews of its
files by the Office of the Auditor General (OAG), periodic detailed audits by the OAG, and client
satisfaction surveys issued to client areas on the completion of each internal audit.
The Audit Panel learned that the last detailed OAG audit of six university audit offices identified
four good practices, three of which were at Murdoch and that benchmarking of KPIs places
IA&RM’s practices in the top 10% of a group surveyed by the Australian National Audit Office.
The Audit Panel’s findings in relation to IA&RM’s activities are located in section 2 of this
Report.
4.4
Reviews of Research and Other Quality Reviews
With respect to other internal quality review processes at Murdoch, the Audit Panel noted that
there are a number of other academic and non-academic reviews, including:
4.5
•
reviews of Research Centres and Areas of Research Excellence overseen by the
Committee for Centres and Areas of Research Strength
•
professional accreditation reviews for many of the University’s courses, e.g. Psychology
and Veterinary Science
•
ad hoc internal reviews of university-wide services currently not covered by the
School/AOU Reviews, eg the current IT Review
•
external audits of various operations, eg specific activities by the Office of Financial
Services and Office of Human Resources are reviewed annually by the OAG.
Institutional Quality Improvement Processes at Murdoch
In forming the conclusions that follow, the Panel had the opportunity to interview both Murdoch
Staff and external participants in the WOIA and AOU peer-review processes.
As indicated above, there is a well-developed system of academic and non-academic cyclical
reviews and audits at both the whole-of-organisation level and the organisational unit level at
Murdoch, as well as a range of ad hoc reviews. What stood out most for the Audit Panel was the
way that the University had been able to coordinate these processes and harmonise the in-house
reviews with various external review requirements. In particular, the Panel concluded that the
University’s early adoption of Whole-of-Institution quality audit is worthy of commendation.
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Commendation 4
AUQA commends Murdoch University for adopting authentic, external
whole-of-institution, cyclic quality audits, synchronised with external AUQA
audit and in-house quality audit and review cycles.
However, although the 2001 WOIA Audit Report went to Academic Council (as do the reports of
AOU reviews), the 2006 WOIA recommendations were first considered by the SEG, with only
“the outcomes” to be reported to Academic Council and Senate. This prompted the Panel to ask
how the WOIA and AUQA audit findings will be addressed in the University’s strategic and
operational planning and performance reporting processes, and in particular, what role the Senate
has in approving the WOIA Implementation Plan.
After affirming that SEG members were assigned individual responsibility for action
implementation (noted above), Murdoch indicated that it is up to individual SEG members
whether items are significant enough to incorporate in their area’s strategic and/or operational
plans, or be incorporated into ongoing business activities. Although the Panel considered the
possibility of inconsistency in this approach, it also noted that it is intended that the WOIA
Implementation Plan will be monitored by the AQAC, and that progress will be reported
quarterly. The University also commented that following receipt of AUQA’s report on Murdoch’s
audit, a combined Implementation Plan will be developed, and any additional AUQA
recommendations will be added.
Nevertheless, the Audit Panel considered that there is a need to more rigorously monitor and
follow-up the implementation of actions in response to the findings of the 2005 WOIA; similarly,
the Panel considered that there will be a need to address the AUQA audit findings, using similar
transparent and accountable monitoring and reporting processes.
In Summary, and considering the full range of internal quality review, audit, and improvement
systems and processes at Murdoch, the Audit Panel detected that there have been a number of
instances where various review findings had not been addressed in a timely manner. However, it
considered that the systems were generally robust, and agreed with the University’s intention to
better adhere to the timetable for responding to, approving and reporting on the implementation
of AOU Review recommendations.
Affirmation 4
AUQA affirms Murdoch University’s intention to better adhere to the
timetable for responding to, approving and reporting on the implementation
of AUO Review recommendations.
Finally, the Audit Panel noted that although benchmarking had been identified as part of the
Institutional Quality Improvement process at Murdoch, examples of systematic benchmarking
were not much in evidence on the ground, and that indeed the University had identified the need
to address benchmarking in these terms: “Murdoch University will strive for more effective,
appropriate benchmarking exercises that feed into the existing Quality Management
Frameworks.” (PF p40) The Panel noted that to engage in consistent and informed benchmarking,
appropriate systems, structures and resources are needed. Overall, though, the University’s
commitment to quality assurance and quality improvement appeared to AUQA to be a distinctive
feature of the institution.
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5
Murdoch University
EDUCATION
The 2003–2007 Strategic Plan inter alia has the following goal statements with respect to the
provision of education:
To provide quality contemporary education which empowers the students of
today to live and work in the world of tomorrow.
All graduates require in-depth knowledge of a field of study with an awareness of
other disciplines, and the capacity to communicate effectively, work
collaboratively and independently, think critically and creatively and understand
ethical and social justice issues. These are expressed in the University’s
statement of Graduate Attributes. (p5)
With respect to the “defining themes” that distinguish Murdoch’s approach to education, as noted
in section 1, the University is committed to: Equity and Social Justice; Sustainability; Global
Responsibility; and, Innovation and Entrepreneurship. An evaluation of Murdoch’s overall
achievement in relation to these aspects is in section 5.10.
5.1
Course Profile and Structures, and Academic Planning at Murdoch University
The Performance Portfolio claimed that Murdoch’s courses and its learning environment are
distinctive through the combination of the following features:
•
Accessibility: no specific high-school prerequisites for any course; multiple-entry
pathways.
•
Support: student learning and pastoral support, especially for equity students; division of
the curriculum into Part I and Part II studies; and obligation to complete a Foundation
Unit as a component of Part I.
•
Flexibility: major and minor sequences and choice of electives; Independent Study
Contracts; External mode of study for many units.
•
Contemporary curriculum: ongoing embedding of graduate attributes with disciplinespecific attributes; student-centred unit design and teaching methods; and regular review
over the last 12 years. (PF pp41–2)
Given this emphasis, the Audit Panel noted alignment with the University’s stated commitment to
equity and social justice, and investigated what steps the University is taking to monitor the
performance of courses and units of study within a profile with these characteristics.
Performance measures used to monitor and evaluate the quality of education at Murdoch are: the
external Graduate Destination Survey (GDS) and Course Experience Questionnaire (CEQ); and
First Year Experience (FYE) Survey administered by the University of Melbourne; student unit
evaluations and the Whole-of-University (WUE) Survey performed by the Teaching and
Learning Centre (TLC, in-house survey); Student Progress Rate (SPR) and Student Retention
Rate (SSR); and various other in-house stakeholder survey results. Some of these outcomes are
aggregated into a “Course Quality Index” (see below).
The Portfolio stated that: “Murdoch is constantly reviewing its course profile based on demand
and course quality.” (PF p43) It is claimed that this is done by two different mechanisms:
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•
Executive Deans initiate new courses and retire existing courses on the basis of “market
need, student demand, financial viability and staff capacity.” (PF p43) The Academic
Policy Committee (APC) facilitates this, with final resolution being by Academic
Council, and
•
Evaluation of Undergraduate Courses Policy, approved by Academic Council late in
2003. This Policy stipulates that course data derived from the CEQ, the GDS, the SPR,
and unit evaluations conducted by the TLC on core units, be aggregated to a numerical
figure, the Course Quality Index, on which courses are ranked. Courses on the bottom
10% of the index are examined with a view to discontinuation.” (PF p43)
The Audit Panel noted that courses of “strategic importance to the University” in this category
could be required to undergo “revitalisation” and would be closely monitored over a period of
three years, and that, “if no improvement occurs then the course is discontinued.” (PF p43) The
Audit Panel also noted some “recent improvements” in the planning process (i.e. throughout
2005), including “establishment of a Course Review Register and compulsory approval of
Business Plans by the SEG prior to Academic Council approval.” (PF p46)
The Audit Panel sought additional information about the introduction of Business Plans and what
happens at the unit, as well as the course level. The Panel was advised that more attention is now
being paid to courses and units with small numbers of students via the mechanisms noted above
and that performance measures used in the monitoring and review process are Student Progress
Rate (SPR) and Student Retention Rate (SRR).
In the Performance Portfolio, Murdoch’s outcomes for these measures were described in the
following terms: “Generally, Murdoch’s (SPR) results are below the State average….at FoE
(Field of Study) level, there is significant variability in the SPR….Schools that teach into those
FoE with relatively lower SPR have been alerted to this”; and, “Generally Murdoch’s (SRR)
results are average when compared with national data. A significant improvement has been made
in the last year, in part due to strategic targeting of the first year learning experience.” (PF p63)
The Audit Panel affirms the need for continuing this degree of scrutiny, even given Murdoch’s
commitment to social justice and access considerations in setting and adjusting its course profile.
Affirmation 5
AUQA affirms Murdoch University’s recognition of the need to deal with
courses and units with small numbers of students, the development of a
more efficient and structured approach to determining the continuation or
cessation of these courses and units, and the need to focus on the
improvement of student retention and completions.
5.2
Student Recruitment
Overall entry standards are monitored by the University’s Committee on University Entrance,
which is a Standing Committee of Academic Council, with operational responsibility for
domestic student recruitment being handled by the Prospective Students’ and Admissions Centre,
and international student recruitment being the responsibility of Murdoch International. Both
these organisational units report operationally to the PVC (Strategy), which although a rather
unusual organisational arrangement, aims to ensure the alignment of these units’ operations with
the University’s strategic directions.
There is further comment on Murdoch’s catering for the needs of its domestic students in other
Sections of this Report, while comment on Murdoch’s approach to transnational education is
primarily in section 5.9.
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5.3
Murdoch University
Students — Administration and Non-academic Support
In contrast to the strictly bifurcated arrangement for the recruitment of domestic and international
students described above, Murdoch states that it provides administrative support to students
“centrally” through the Office of Central Student Administration, as well as through Murdoch
International, and through Divisional and School Offices. The Audit Panel noted initiatives
resulting from recent self-review activities that the University claimed would give a “focus on the
University–Student interface (regardless of the Office responsible), and how this may be made
more supportive.” (PF p48) A particular initiative cited in this respect was the establishment of
the new Student Services Advisory Committee.
The Panel had numerous opportunities to discuss with students their perception of the ‘studentcentredness’ (or otherwise) of the Murdoch culture. Though generally affirming, there was a
consistent and recurring pattern of complaints about problems with the timetabling of classes and
examinations as a persistent source of frustration. Examples given ranged from timetable clashes,
problems with allocated room suitability, and the ‘clustering’ of examinations for the same course
in close succession, through to an alleged lack of concern about the impact of some timetabling
decisions on students with disabilities.
The Audit Panel noted that although “more effective utilisation of existing space through
improved timetabling” had been identified as an area for improvement in the WOIA
Implementation Plan (Progress as at 6 May 2006, pp23–4), apart from steps to improve
interfacing between the Celcat (the TT database) and Callista (the student records system), there
was little acknowledgement of the impact this should have on improving timetabling from the
students’ perspective, including that of disabled students, or the lack of urgency. For example, the
Panel noted that the review of space (not of the timetabling of classes) would be “ongoing” and
that changes to Laboratory usage would be subject to a “Trial in Science and Engineering” in
2006 [WOIA Implementation Plan (Progress as at 6 May 2006), pp23–4)]. These observations
prompted the following affirmation.
Affirmation 6
AUQA affirms Murdoch University’s intention to develop a more structured
approach to the timetabling of units and examinations and notes that a
speedy resolution of this issue is needed.
5.4
Student Learning and Flexible Learning
In the Performance Portfolio, the section on Student Learning gives primacy to the work of the
TLC to “provide direct assistance to both undergraduate and postgraduate students enabling them
to acquire the language and academic skills necessary for success at university.” (PF p52)
In particular it was stated that: “TLC pays particular attention to students from equity target
groups, local and international ESL students, and students wishing to develop better numeracy
skills.” (PF p52) There is further comment on the valuable contribution of the TLC to the quality
of both teaching and learning at Murdoch in section 5.8.
With respect to flexible learning, the Performance Portfolio states that “Murdoch University has
always had a flexible approach to learning based on the Open University model from the UK and
has offered many of its units in both internal and external mode since 1975.” (PF p53)
More recently the University has moved into using online technology. In 1999, Murdoch installed
WebCT as its online course management system and in 2001 reviewed its overall approach, and
adopted a model of flexible access to units, overseen by the Flexible Learning Implementation
Committee (FLIC), as noted above, a subcommittee of Academic Council.
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The Panel noted the introduction of the iLecture system and online library systems for further
asynchronous learning opportunities, and also the development work and ongoing support for
flexible learning provided by TLC.
The Audit Panel concluded that there is a genuine commitment to enhancing the quality of the
student experience at Murdoch through these various initiatives and the commitment of many in
the teaching staff to fostering a student-centred approach to university-level education.
Commendation 5
AUQA commends Murdoch University for its ongoing and effective focus on
the quality of the student experience at both undergraduate and
postgraduate levels, and notes the enthusiasm of academic and general staff
and of students to ensure the continuation and enhancement of this
experience.
5.5
First Year Experience & Postgraduate Coursework Students’ Experience
5.5.1
First Year Experience
Consistent with the equity and social justice theme, another dimension of undergraduate
education at Murdoch is the importance placed on the student experience in first year. From the
Performance Portfolio the Panel learned that Murdoch participated in a survey of first year
experience conducted by the University of Melbourne in 2004 and 2005. This participation along
with the analysis of retention rate data noted earlier, led the University to identify “particular
areas of the University where retention could be improved.” (PF p54)
In the 2005 WOIA Implementation Plan — Progress as at 6 May 2006 document, one of the
Areas for Improvement identified was to: “Support first year Unit Coordinators to ensure that
Small Group Teaching Principles are put into operation” (p38–40). The Panel agrees with this
observation, and notes also the feedback received about the value of student mentoring schemes
in those areas that had introduced them. The Panel particularly notes the reported success of the
student mentor program in the School of Psychology, and considers that the adoption of this sort
of practice across the University would be of value.
There is comment on other aspects of the first year experience in undergraduate education in
section 5.10.
5.5.2
Postgraduate Education
The Portfolio described coursework postgraduate offerings as undergoing “exponential growth”
and stated that the University had gone the route of providing “nested qualifications” with
multiple exit points.
In 2005, the University undertook a double-coding policy compliance audit, and as a result of this
and other review findings the University had identified the “postgraduate student learning
environment, the impact of double-coded units; and the establishment of clear reporting and
monitoring for this cohort of students”, as an area for improvement [WOIA Implementation Plan
– Progress at 6 May 2006), pp32–3]. A working party had reported to SEG in December 2005;
and at the time of the Audit Visit the recruitment of a Director Postgraduate and Professional
Education was underway.
AUQA notes the University’s commitment to improve support for postgraduate students and
suggests that greater emphasis be given to ensuring a consistency of information and processes
across the University.
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5.6
Murdoch University
Graduate Attributes and Outcomes, and Ethical Academic Practice
As noted at the start of this Chapter, Murdoch states that it is committed to its graduates
acquiring: in-depth knowledge of a field of study, with an awareness of other disciplines; the
capacity to communicate effectively, to work collaboratively and independently; to think
critically and creatively; and, to understand ethical and social justice issues. There is also the
educational transmission of the “defining themes” of sustainability, global responsibility, and
innovation and entrepreneurship to consider.
The Portfolio describes how the University developed a set of graduate attributes in 2000 and
reviewed these in 2002, in these terms: “The existing set of nine attributes and 25 sub-attributes
was formally adopted by Academic Council and Senate in 2002. In addition, a program aimed at
embedding the attributes into all courses was adopted and implemented by the TLC on a Schoolby-School basis.” (PF p55)
Noting the importance attributed to the acquisition of appropriate graduate attributes at Murdoch,
the Audit Panel paid particular attention to their identification and assessment in the course
development and delivery phases of the curriculum development cycle. The Panel investigated
the use made of a web-based mapping tool, the Graduate Attribute Mapping Process (GAMP),
used “to align each graduate attribute with the learning outcomes, assessment and learning
activities in each unit of a course.” (PF p55) This program was integrated into the School
Development Process in 2003. The Panel examined a number of the colour-coded Pathway
Matrix by Graduate Sub-attribute as outcomes of GAMP mapping at the unit and course level, by
which the completeness of the coverage of graduate attributes across the curriculum can be
identified, and noted the involvement of TLC in the mapping process.
Commendation 6
AUQA commends Murdoch University for the embedding of graduate
attributes into the curriculum, and the attention shown to the development
of these attributes in the course development, teaching and learning, and
quality assurance processes.
However, in examining the latest available version of the WOIA Implementation Plan, the Panel
noted that plans to further develop the GAMP tool for student use had been put on hold due to a
lack of available resources. Resources will be needed to further develop the GAMP tool for this
application if the full benefits of the mapping are to be made more easily available to students.
There are also remaining gaps at the graduate sub-attribute level in some units, which is a
curriculum design issue. To maintain the momentum of the good work done so far, AUQA
suggests that the University needs to ensure that there is greater consistency in the understanding
and application of Graduate Attributes across the discipline and professional areas through
ongoing use of the GAMP tool and curriculum design.
Also relevant are the lower than average graduate employment outcomes being achieved by
Murdoch compared to other universities in Western Australia. Continuing attention to the
inculcation of graduate attributes is warranted.
Another area that the University examined in its Portfolio under this heading is the processes that
it has put in place to ensure academic integrity. AUQA considers this to be an area of quality
assurance that was well covered by University.
5.7
Student Equity and Social Justice
As noted, equity and social justice is one of the University’s ‘defining themes’ that is said to be
distinguishing Murdoch from other research-intensive universities. A key aspect of this
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commitment is the suite of enabling courses offered by Murdoch that provide “alternative entry
paths for a range of designated equity groups.” (PF p57) The main courses are:
• UniFocus — a full-time, ten-week bridging course for students who would like to study at
Murdoch’s Peel or Rockingham campuses. This enabling course is clearly part of the
University’s community engagement strategy in the Peel/Kwinana/Rockingham region.
•
UniAccess — a four-week, on campus, pre-university course held in January each year at
the South Street campus, and targeted at students from equity groups, including:
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders; ESL students; and Year 12 students who are not
enrolled in Tertiary Entrance Examination subjects.
•
UniQuest — a full-time, one-week, on-campus, free pre-university course held in August
and October at both South Street and Rockingham campuses. It too targets designated
equity groups, including from low-income, rural and remote categories.
In addition to taking these alternate entry courses, in Part I of their undergraduate course at
Murdoch all students are required to take a Foundation Unit. There is further comment on the
Foundation Units in section 5.10. The TLC also offers a transition unit, “TLC120: Introduction to
University Learning”, for students experiencing serious difficulty with the transition to university
study. Such students are recommended to take TLC120 and a Foundation Unit concurrently.
The University reviewed the Enabling Courses in 2004 and the Panel learned that the retention
rates for students entering courses via enabling programs were poor. The Panel noted that this
was cause for concern within the University and that the TLC was working with the Divisions to
examine equity group transition and to improve retention rates within this group. Despite this
concern the suite of enabling, foundation, and transition units provide a substantial number of
‘first generation’ university students with access to, and a good initial grounding in, universitystyle education.
Commendation 7
AUQA commends Murdoch University for the range and quality of the
enabling and foundation units, particularly in terms of the way in which
they assist students in various equity categories and from disadvantaged and
lower socio-economic backgrounds to enter the university through multiple
mechanisms.
Murdoch has developed some significant educational partnerships, one leading to the
establishment of a secondary school on the South Street Campus (Murdoch College, established
in 2002), and more recently, Murdoch Institute of Technology, which commenced operation in
2006, providing a further “opportunity for students who are not university-ready to prepare for
university entry through completion of Diploma-level qualifications and English language
classes.” (PF p6) The University has developed close relationships with TAFE institutes within
the typical Murdoch student catchments areas. Because the students of these institutions are not
students of Murdoch University, findings in relation to these partnerships have been reserved for
the Engagement section of this Report.
With respect to Indigenous education at Murdoch, as noted above, the University provides
alternative entry programs to Aboriginal and Torres Straits Islanders (ATSI). The University also
has an Indigenous centre, the Kulbardi Aboriginal Centre (KAC), located organisationally within
the Division of Arts. The Centre offers a Diploma in University Studies in its own right, and
various Schools and disciplines in association with the Centre run a number of specialist
programs such as the Koora Kudidj and the Pre-Law Program. The Division of Health Sciences
offers the Wardong Program, for students seeking entry into Veterinary Science.
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Murdoch University
The Audit Panel visited the KAC and spoke with students, staff, and members of the Aboriginal
community. While there were positive comments on the support given by some individuals
within the University, the Panel detected a rising level of frustration with the rate of progress in
moving forward with the agenda approved by the University Senate in 2001 under the “9 Point
Plan to Progress Reconciliation”. Although the Panel notes the University’s recognition of the
need for commitment to Indigenous reconciliation, it suggests a clearer consideration of the
implementation steps that need to be taken in a way that is consistent with the “9 Point Plan to
Progress Reconciliation”. There was, for example, a call made to the Panel for the study of a unit
on Indigenous matters to be made compulsory for all students at Murdoch. In this respect, the
Audit Panel noted that at least two of the Foundation Units reviewed covers Australian
Indigenous issues: “Reinventing Australia”; and “World Indigenous Knowledge”.
5.8
Support and Resources for Academic Development
In its Performance Portfolio the University states that: “Teaching is valued through recognition in
selection, probation and promotion procedures and through teaching excellence awards. It is also
supported through provision of academic staff development”. (PF p58)
Academic staff development at Murdoch takes a number of forms including: skill-focused
workshops; or more theoretical programs; and is tailored to support staff at various stages of their
careers. Again the TLC features as a key provider of these activities. Inter alia the TLC provides
a variety of programs, including:
•
Tertiary Teaching Course — although Murdoch like many research intensive universities
does not require its teaching staff to have formal teaching qualifications, it is a
probationary requirement for all new staff on continuous or three to five-year contracts
who do not have formal teaching qualifications to take this course
•
Academic Work Matters Series — a seminar series covering a wide range of teaching and
learning and research-related topics
•
Teaching Skills Development — a program catering for tutors, sessional staff, and
laboratory demonstrators.
The TLC has been mentioned already in several other parts of this Report for its significant
involvement in other activities, such as the School Development Process; curriculum
development activities, including the mapping of graduate attributes; and the evaluation and
review of units of study and teaching. In addition the TLC provides an ongoing program of
learner support programs for students.
Not to be forgotten in this respect are the Library services and resources available to Murdoch
students across the three campuses. There are two libraries situated on the South Street Campus
— the Main Library and the specialist Veterinary Branch Library. At Rockingham there is the
impressive Rockingham Regional Campus Community Library which serves three stakeholder
groups: Murdoch students and staff; TAFE students and staff; and members of the Rockingham
community. At Peel, library services are operated by the Mandurah Senior College.
Although the libraries at Murdoch have identified a number of areas for improvement, including
making services and resources available to Murdoch students studying offshore, the TLC and the
libraries are held in high regard by their clients, be they students, staff, or members of the
external community.
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Commendation 8
AUQA commends Murdoch University for the quality and determination of
the staff of the Teaching and Learning Centre and the libraries and their
activities and resources in support of staff and students across campuses.
However, one consistent complaint about the support programs provided by TLC was the
inflexibility of their scheduling during the academic year. A number of students and staff
commented that they were unable to access TLC programs that started at the commencement of
the academic year because of delays in either the issuing of timetables, or in completing
appointment contracts. Postgraduate students made similar observations about programs provided
by the Graduate Centre.
Recommendation 2
AUQA recommends that Murdoch University ensure that educational
development and support programs provided by the Teaching and Learning
Centre and the Graduate Centre are available to staff and students at
intervals through the academic year, and where appropriate, by blended or
flexible learning.
A final observation about the provision of student support services at Murdoch is the extent to
which the University and the MU Student Guild are reliant on continuing mutual cooperation and
goodwill to provide services for Murdoch students, including the provision of facilities such as
appropriately located common rooms for use by various student groups.
5.9
Transnational Education
The University describes its transnational education mission and related quality assurance in
these terms: “While transnational education has not been a major characteristic of the University
in the past, procedures established during 2004 for implementation and quality assurance (QA) of
offshore courses has provided the platform to build this aspect of its business. Murdoch does not
have any international campuses and offers transnational education through partnership
arrangements. There has been an expansion in course offerings during 2005 and this is expected
to continue in 2006 in both number of courses offered and load associated with these offerings.”
(PF p6)
After reviewing the information provided by Murdoch about its onshore and offshore activities,
the Audit Panel decided to visit a sample of Murdoch’s offshore partners. These were: NET Co
Ltd (Kurashiki, Japan); School of Management (SMa Singapore, owned and operated by the
Singapore Manufactures’ Federation); and KDU College (Petaling Jaya, Malaysia). These
partnerships varied in a number of major respects, in addition to the obvious ones of country and
cultural context. These were:
Purpose of partnership from the partner perspective was seen to be quite distinctive:
• NET Co Ltd is filling a niche market for the emerging Chiropractic profession in Japan,
with Murdoch as its only partner, after the transfer of responsibility for the delivery of a
Chiropractic conversion course from the Southern California University of Health
Sciences.
•
SMa is aiming at a particular market of professionals wishing to undertake part-time
study with the Murdoch ‘brand’ providing programs as one of a number of international
partners
•
KDU is aiming at forming a strategic long-term relationship with Murdoch as its
preferred Australian university partner for the mainstream full-time student Malaysian
school leavers market.
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Murdoch University
Similarly, the educational products being delivered varied widely:
• NET Co Ltd — the BHSc ‘conversion program’ is for Japanese ‘chiro-practitioners’ and
they are now moving into initial ‘full program’ training in chiropractic for Japanese
school leavers
•
SMa — BCom and Masters of Human Resource Management
•
KDU — BCom and BA, with other programs under consideration.
The nature and the function of the staffing provided also varied considerably:
• NET Co Ltd effectively only provides Japanese/English translators and interpreters for
the delivery of Murdoch materials, with Murdoch providing the academic and clinical
expertise and NET Co Ltd the students and facilities, including the potential development
of a “new campus” in the Tokyo area
•
SMa effectively hires staff and runs Murdoch programs for its own clientele but these
programs are accredited by Murdoch University
•
KDU effectively runs Murdoch programs under franchise.
The operations are of quite different sizes:
• NET Co Ltd currently has 100 part-time students with scope for expansion in this market
limited because of the niche nature of the market in Japan; however, there is some, as yet
untested, scope for expansion into the school-leaver market
•
SMa currently has 185 Murdoch students and has scope for expansion, but only if SMa
wants to offer additional Murdoch ‘product lines’
•
KDU currently has 350 Murdoch students and there is considerable scope for expansion
to offer additional Murdoch courses.
All of these differences reflect, and are part of the maturity of the partner(ship):
• NET Co Ltd is a relatively young organisation in a relatively new partnership (c. 3 years)
•
SMa is also a fairly young organisation in a reasonably new partnership (2 years)
•
KDU is a mature and sophisticated partner in a longer-term relationship (10 years).
Various positive aspects of these partnerships were identified on the offshore visits, as were
aspects to be checked against information and views provided by Murdoch, and issues that are
potentially interfering with the quality of these offshore activities of Murdoch. These issues can
be grouped in the following ways: the identity of the partnership (including differentiation of
provider, product and students); the effective implementation of policies and procedures of
Murdoch (in terms of administrative matters, academic matters, and alumni matters); the quality
and frequency of the interaction with Murdoch staff in Australia (by academic staff, by students,
and by systems); the nature and quality of the instruction provided to overseas students (in terms
of language, online material, curriculum material, equivalence of material, and moderation of
presentation and assessment of material); and the future imperatives of the partners (in terms of
perceived purpose of present relationship with Murdoch and possible future relationship with
Murdoch).
The Audit Panel concluded that through development of the Manual for the Development and
Implementation of Offshore Courses the attention now being given to quality assurance,
especially to issues during the contracting phase, has improved significantly. There are also
distinct signs of improved follow-through on offshore quality assurance matters. However, as
Murdoch acknowledged in its self-review, there was still work to be done to ensure greater
consistency and “equivalence in the learning environment, in both outcomes and student
experience across all cohorts of students, and at all locations and in all modes.” (PF p66)
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Affirmation 7
AUQA affirms Murdoch University’s approach to bring greater focus and
consistency to its transnational education activities and relationships with
overseas partners and that greater attention should be paid to the
preparation of inexperienced academic staff, and their involvement in the
delivery of their course material.
In relation to this affirmation, a useful booklet had been specifically developed to help prepare
Murdoch staff involved in offshore delivery, but knowledge of it among those teaching offshore
is patchy and in need of reinforcement. Thus, although the recent efforts to bring focus and
consistency to the international activities of the University and the relationships with overseas
partners is appreciated by all, increased and urgent attention is needed in terms of the preparation
of academic staff who are involved in the delivery of course material at overseas locations.
During the audit the Panel also scrutinised the local quality assurance requirements that applied to
Murdoch’s offshore partners. For example, in Singapore, SMa has attained “Case Trust for
Education” status, and was in the process of pursuing “Singapore Quality Class for Private
Education Organisation” certification. The Panel views these as positive developments that again
point to the need for Murdoch to develop its partnerships in ways that recognise the sharing of
quality assurance responsibilities.
However, while preparing for the offshore visits, a particular issue that was brought to the
attention of AUQA by one of the Japanese External Quality Assurance agencies was the question
of the recognition of Murdoch’s operations in Japan as ‘a foreign university’. The Audit Panel
had learned that Chiropractic is not a regulated vocation in Japan, and so NET Co Ltd is not
formally required to be registered with the Japanese Ministry of Education and Training (MEXT)
in order to offer Chiropractic training. However, it was noted that MEXT does have a process for
the recognition of a ‘foreign university’s campus’.
AUQA received the following advice from MEXT: “Designation as a ‘foreign university’s
Japanese campus’ means an official confirmation that [a] branch campus is part of a programme
(sic) provided by a higher education institution ‘recognised’ by the authority of its home country.
By gaining the designation, it becomes clear that the Japanese branch campus is part of a
‘recognised’ foreign higher education institution, and it will be treated in the same way as the
home campus in Australia in regards to the recognition of [a] degree for the purpose of advanced
studies, credit transfer etc.”
Murdoch’s stated transnational education strategy is that it “does not have any international
campuses and offers transnational education through partnerships” and so the term “branch
campus” does not technically apply in this case.
However, as Murdoch is about to expand its offerings through NET Co. Ltd in Japan by entering
the school-leaver market via the introduction of new programs in Chiropractic, and at a “new
campus”, it would be wise for Murdoch to now discuss with its partner to determine if there are
any advantages to be gained for them both (and for Murdoch in particular, for its students, both
those studying in Japan, and those in Australia), if its operations in Japan were to gain
designation as a “foreign university’s Japanese campus”.
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Recommendation 3
AUQA recommends that in offering Chiropractic training opportunities in
Japan, including programs introduced for the school-leaver market,
Murdoch University examines with its Japanese partner the possibility of
registering with the Japanese Ministry of Education and Training in order
to gain designation as a “foreign university’s Japanese campus”.
(See also section 7.5 for a finding in relation to the overall quality of Murdoch’s relationships
with its offshore partners in the context of a general finding on the University’s relationships with
its educational partners.)
With respect to the other dimensions of transnational education at Murdoch, such as
arrangements for the teaching and support of international students onshore, student exchange
programs, and internationalisation of the curriculum, the AUQA is satisfied with the
arrangements for quality assurance.
5.10
The Quality of the Provision of Education at Murdoch University
A distinctive feature of curriculum design at Murdoch is the educational role of the Foundation
Units. In the section of the Performance Portfolio headed “Provision of Education at Murdoch
University” the Foundation Units are described in the following terms:
“All undergraduate students complete a Foundation Unit as part of their Part I studies
unless exemption has been granted. The primary purpose of Foundation Units is to enable
students new to the University to develop a range of study skills and to introduce students
to a variety of discipline areas that will provide a foundation for subsequent university
studies. The Foundation Units offered cover a range of topics, with each unit developing
an interdisciplinary approach to a particular theme and drawing on the resources and
skills of staff from several Schools. Students are free to choose any Foundation Unit,
regardless of the course in which they are enrolled.” (PFp44)
The Audit Panel reviewed some of the Foundation Units (eg “Life & the Universe” and “Age of
Information”) through the sample courses, and during the Audit Visit, in addition to interviewing
some of the Foundation Unit Coordinators and teaching staff, the Panel looked at some additional
Foundation Unit materials, including FDN106 “World Indigenous Knowledge”; and FDN150
“Reinventing Australia”. In addition, undergraduate and postgraduate students interviewed were
asked to reflect their experience of taking Foundation Units.
Through these checks the Panel was able to confirm the educational value of these units,
especially through their adoption of multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary perspectives, and
inclusion of topics that enables Murdoch to address issues germane to its ‘defining themes’ of
Equity and Social Justice; Sustainability; Global Responsibility; and Innovation and
Entrepreneurship.
Commendation 9
AUQA commends Murdoch University for its use of Foundation Units as a
distinctive feature of the educational experience of undergraduate students.
More generally, over an extended period Murdoch has an impressive record in achieving results
for good teaching, generic skills and for overall satisfaction in the national CEQ survey. The
1999–2004 CEQ aggregated outcome data supplied by the University shows Murdoch
comfortably outperforming both the averages for WA and the national averages in all three
categories.
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And although as the University itself notes: “Research indicates that changes within 10
percentage points of national mean are not significant unless there is a continuing trend” (PF
p119), Murdoch had been given a ‘five star Good Universities Guide rating’ (given to universities
who are rated in the top 20%), for the past four years and ten out of the last eleven years. The
Audit Panel makes the following commendation for Murdoch achieving this sort of consistency
over time while also successfully addressing the University’s Equity and Social Justice
objectives.
Commendation 10
AUQA commends Murdoch University for achieving consistently high
outcomes in the course experience questionnaire survey, and for flexibility in
meeting the learning needs of a broad array of students; such as through the
creation of Careers “Combo” courses at the Peel Campus.
(For further information about the Careers “Combo” courses at the Peel Campus see section 7,
Engagement.)
Overall, the Panel saw convergent evidence for the quality of the student experience at both
undergraduate and postgraduate levels, and the enthusiasm of academic and general staff and of
students to ensure the continuation and enhancement of this experience.
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6
Murdoch University
RESEARCH AND RESEARCH TRAINING
The 2003–2007 Strategic Plan includes the following goal statements with respect to research and
research training:
To contribute to the knowledge, wellbeing and sustainability of society by
conducting high quality multi-disciplinary research and development.
Many aspects of Australian natural and social environment are unique and
require unique solutions. Murdoch will conduct research in areas that are
aligned with national, State and community priorities. The University will
continue to build on its record of research excellence through focused,
innovative and enterprising approaches.
Maintenance of a productive research culture requires a pool of talented
postgraduate research students. Murdoch University will ensure they have
quality supervision, clearly defined projects, sufficient resources and
opportunities for developing generic skills.
Long-term and enduring partnerships will be built between Murdoch University
researchers and other complementary national and international government
agencies, universities, industrial and commercial partners and venture
capita.(p6)
A summary of Murdoch’s overall achievement in relation to Research goals is in section 6.6.
6.1
Research and Research Training at Murdoch University
In the Performance Portfolio, Research and Research Training at Murdoch are described in these
terms:
“Murdoch is a medium-sized university by international standards. In 2005 (as at 31
August), the University enrolled 13,503 students (9,055 EFTSL) of whom 688 (515
EFTSL) were doctoral research students and 147 (70 EFTSL) Masters by research
students and employed 443 FTE academic teaching and research staff.
Since 2002, when the competitive research funding system was introduced, linking
research funding directly to research performance, Murdoch has consolidated a strong
position as one of Australia’s top performing research universities on a per capita basis,
with research income more than doubling in that five-year period.” (PF p67)
There is further comment and findings in relation to this performance in section 6.6 of this
Report.
The Portfolio goes on to describe the anticipated impact of the introduction of the RQF, and the
participation of Murdoch in a RQF trial, and that “in the first half of 2006 Murdoch will lead the
six Innovative Research Universities Australia in a larger scale RQF trial exercise” (PF p67).
6.2
Research Management and Research and Development Boards and Committees
The management of research and research training is coordinated within the Division of Research
and Development (R&D). The Division is structured into a set of offices to cover aspects of
research and research training management. Each office is headed by a manager and the day to
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day management of the offices is overseen by the Director of R&D. The Director is responsible to
the PVC (Research) and advises on all aspects of strategic research management.
Research and development are supported by the RDB and a number of committees that set or
recommend policy, develop strategy, and report on all regulatory aspects to ensure compliance
with national standards. As already noted in section 2.6, the RDB is the major decision-making
body on research matters in the University and has two standing subcommittees: RDSC and
CCARS. Each Division has a Divisional Research and Development Committee. The chairs of
these committees are standing invitees to the Board. A finding in relation to the role of RDB in
academic governance is in section 2.6.
Research involving either human participants or the use of animals requires approval from the
relevant ethics committee before experimental work commences. The Animal Ethics Committee
and Human Ethics Committee report to the PVC (Research). (PF p68)
6.3
Intellectual Property, Technology Transfer and Commercialisation
In line with one of the University’s ‘defining themes’, innovation and entrepreneurship is one of
Murdoch’s research strategies. In the Performance Portfolio the strategy is described in these
terms:
“In 2003 the University initiated a focused commercialisation strategy….
Murdoch’s commercialisation strategy attempts to match innovative commercialisation
project opportunities at various stages of development with the business and investment
interests of the private sector….
The University’s objective for intellectual property is to facilitate the development,
protection and commercialisation of intellectual property from innovative research.
Performance indicators with annual reporting include: the number of commercial projects
initiated, number of patents filed, number of technologies licensed, number of spin-off
companies registered, research income from Australian business and research income
from Australian business as a percentage of total research income.” (PF pp68–9)
Two significant commercial ventures were established in 2004, namely the Murdoch Westscheme
Enterprise Partnership (MWEP) and MurdochLINK Pty Ltd. Currently the University has three
operational arms involved in technology transfer, the Industry Liaison Office operating within the
Division of R&D, MurdochLINK Pty Ltd and MWEP. The focus of MurdochLINK is on the
provision of consulting services to industry and the community. The focus of MWEP is the
provision of seed funding to invest in innovative technology and knowledge transfer projects that
demonstrate commercial potential.
The Audit Panel interviewed research staff and students from across the University, including
those from “Established Areas of Research Strength”, and from “Emerging” areas and in the
Divisions (see section 6.4). Although there is much good R&D work being done by the staff of
the R&D Division, MurdochLINK, and MWEP, there appeared to be a lack of consistency of
understanding about the strategic significance and direction of that work across the University.
The Panel noted various claims of “ownership” and “responsibility” and saw the possibility of
substantial inconsistency and “territoriality” interfering with the progression of research and
development activities.
The Portfolio enumerated a number of mechanisms by the Division of R&D to raise awareness of
the commercial value of intellectual property (IP) within the Murdoch research community
including: publications; education and training, including orientation; and consulting services.
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The Audit Panel learned that late in 2005 the University had initiated moves to improve the QA
of its commercial research operations, particularly in relation to the management of intellectual
property through revision of Statute No.18 – Intellectual Property and development of a new set
of IP Regulations. However, at the time of the Audit Visit these changes had not yet been
considered by Senate.
In addition, the Panel noted that the following had been identified by the University as
opportunities for improvement: Establishment of a “Commercialisation Advisory Committee”;
and “improvement of R&D information and resources”. (PF p81) There was also a recognised
need to hold “additional information sessions to the University community to explain drivers and
strategies for allocating research funds to researchers and the Divisions”. (PF p81)
In taking up these actions, the University is urged to ensure clear communication of its approach
to the management of research commercialisation, particularly in relation to the management of
intellectual property; and that it establish and monitor transparent processes to ensure the
consistent understanding and effective implementation of this approach.
6.4
Key Research Strategies
As indicated above, following enactment in 2000 of a resolution of Senate for the University “to
focus its research effort into areas where it can achieve leadership and a sufficient concentration
of resources”, Murdoch has a number of Established Areas of Research Strength (ARS):
•
Agricultural and Veterinary Biotechnology & Bioinformatics
•
Contemporary Asia
•
Hydrometallurgy
•
Social Change and Social Equity
•
Technologies and Policies for Sustainable Development
•
Ecosystems Management and Restoration.
And, two identified as “Emerging ARS”:
•
Interactive Media
•
Learning, Leadership and Policy.
AUQA considers that these concentrations are consistent with the University’s ‘defining themes’
and approximate the discipline mix, except perhaps for Business. The Panel also observed that
Established ARS are reviewed every five years, in line with the University’s established five year
review cycles, whereas the performance of Emerging ARS is reviewed every three years.
Other distinctive aspects of the University’s research strategies (and associated strategic focus)
mentioned in the Portfolio are:
38
•
focus on National and State Research Priorities — for example the Centre of Organic
Waste Management (sustainability)
•
Research Centres and Institutes — total 40 in number, including twelve Cooperative
Research Centres (CRCs) and seven state and federally funded Centres of Excellence.
Research Centres and Institutes showcased in the Portfolio are: AJ Parker CRC for
Hydrometallurgy; State Agricultural Biotechnology Centre; and the Centre for Clinical
Immunology and Biomedical Statistics (recipient of a one-off AUD $12 million grant in
2004); and the ARC Centre of Excellence in Antimatter-Matter Studies
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•
ARC Linkage Grants — 44 ARC Linkage grants in the last three years
•
the Academy of Advanced Studies — originally established to recognise “energetic single
researchers or small research groups” not in ARS, but now to recognise Murdoch’s top 30
active research leaders.
The value of these strategies to the University is reflected in Murdoch’s research performance
and there are related findings with respect to this in section 6.6.
6.5
Research Training
The Research Training section of the Performance Portfolio states that:
“A key research strategy for Murdoch is to strengthen postgraduate research. A number of
initiatives are in place to implement this strategy, and are assessed by the achievement of
targets established by the University. These initiatives are summarised below:
•
Improve the recruitment of external Australian and international postgraduate
students.
•
Enhance the quality of postgraduate supervision and research infrastructure for
postgraduate research students.
•
Increase number and quality of postgraduate research students in ARS through
enhanced marketing.
•
Increase the rate of completions and reduce the time taken to complete.
•
Provide a diversity of research proposals involving community, industry and
Government, including the Rockingham-Kwinana and Peel Regions.
The Graduate Centre, which provides a focal point for postgraduate research activity within
the University, reports annually on performance against these targets.
The research training strategy requires that the University’s postgraduate students have
quality supervision, clearly defined projects, sufficient resources and opportunities for
developing generic skills.
Analysis carried out by the Graduate Centre shows a strong correlation of successful
completion of studies over the optimum time (3.5 years full-time) with scholarship support
and full-time enrolment….Murdoch University has adopted a policy of encouraging full-time
study by providing a strategic allocation of block research funds for its own scholarships. In
2005 Murdoch spent more than $5.3 million ($2 million Australian Postgraduate Awards
(APA) and APA-Industry (APA-I), and $3.3 million internal funds) on postgraduate research
student scholarships.” (PF p76)
Setting aside the issue of whether these are “initiatives” or “targets”, the Portfolio goes on to
describe the three main stages of the “structured research training program”, as:
•
Induction and Planning
•
a Supportive Environment of Students and Supervisors
•
the Completion Phase.
The Audit Panel noted the higher than national average level of overall satisfaction rating
Murdoch received in the Postgraduate Research Experience Questionnaire (PREQ) across 1999
and 2003. Consistent with this, during interviews with research students and supervisors a picture
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of a high level of satisfaction with research supervision and training opportunities in particular
areas was evident. However, it was not evident that effective mechanisms are in place for the
support and training of early career academics in terms of developing the skills of research
supervision.
6.6
The Quality of Research and Research Management and Training at Murdoch
Under the heading “Research Performance Indicators” in the Portfolio, the following outcomes
were reported with respect to Murdoch’s research and research training performance:
•
Research Income — increased by 23% from AUD $29 million to $36 million between
2003 and 2004 (although this is explicable by the receipt of the large one-off research
grant in 2004 noted above)
•
Research completions — completions growing and completion times decreasing, and
•
Research publications — some decline over 2002–2004, majority in refereed conference
papers.
There was also comment on strategies for improving the funding of “Emerging research”, and
research funding allocations to the Divisions and reporting. The Portfolio also mentioned the
implementation in 2004 of a “Research Succession Plan” with a budget allocation the purpose of
which is to allow “University-wide strategic appointments to be made”, in order to:
•
“Replace research leaders whose recent or imminent retirement may place continuation of
a research group in jeopardy.
•
Fund potential research leaders at a junior to mid-career stage of development.
•
Provide bridging support in special circumstances for current externally funded fellows
that are not renewed (e.g. holder of ARC Fellowships).” (PF p79)
Elsewhere in the Performance Portfolio, the following national research productivity performance
rankings for Murdoch were given (Note: These are on a per capita basis, total number of
institutions in the ranking table, 39):
Year
2001
2002
2003
2004
Ranking
14th
13th
11th
8th
(PF, Appendix 7, p139)
These figures are used by Murdoch to indicate to AUQA that the University improved its
performance relative to other IRUA universities over this period, and that in 2004 it became the
best performing university without a medical school on a per capita basis on this index. (The
equivalent figures for 2005 were not available at the time of writing.)
Commendation 11
AUQA commends Murdoch University for achieving high research
performance outcomes for a university of its age and size.
The Panel noted that a proportion of this improved productivity performance could in part be
attributed to the impact of a very large one-off grant in 2004, but that the underlying trend was
still generally positive. The Panel also noted the self-identified downward trend in some research
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publication categories, the potential reasons for this, and the measures the University had
identified to address this trend, including a review of the publications reporting process. Whatever
the reasons, the University will need to ensure the structured and active engagement of the entire
Murdoch research and development community in its endeavour to achieve its ambitious 2007
research income target of $40 million.
With respect to this observation, the Audit Panel acknowledges the value of the Research
Succession Plan within this strategy, and further comment is made on this initiative in the
Corporate Services section of this Report. The Panel believes that there is a need for these
developments to be communicated and implemented in a clear and consistent manner, Universitywide.
Recommendation 4
AUQA recommends that Murdoch University ensure the systematic
communication and integration of best practice approaches, such as
research mentoring and succession planning across the University.
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7
Murdoch University
ENGAGEMENT
The 2003–2007 Strategic Plan includes the following goal statements with respect to engagement:
To engage with communities in the Rockingham-Kwinana and Peel Region and
the sphere of influence of our campuses to build productive partnerships in order
to expand community participation in lifelong learning, support the sustainable
development of the region through relevant social and scientific research, and
enrich the cultural life of the community.
Murdoch University will actively participate in the provision of research
expertise and research outcomes in the South West corridor by becoming a key
partner in the planning, development, implementation and problem resolution
process. (p7)
In addition, it includes this comment:
Its strong commitment to the communities within the sphere of influence of its
campuses is evidenced in its decision to partner communities in the South West
corridor, with particular emphasis on Melville, Fremantle, Cockburn and the
Rockingham-Kwinana and Peel Region.
A summary of Murdoch’s overall achievement in relation to its Engagement goal is to be found
in section 7.5.
7.1
Engagement at Murdoch University
The Engagement section of the Murdoch Performance Portfolio stated that the University’s
“Regional Engagement Goal is currently under review”, and noted that:
“In accordance with this goal, Regional Engagement with the Rockingham/Kwinana/Peel
region to Murdoch’s south has been the primary focus of community engagement over
the past three years. Congruent with its history, community service has continued to
occur in all the University’s activities and at all locations. The University’s Strategic Plan
spelled out new initiatives to be built on the existing foundations and so the University
community decided to prioritise this region, not to the exclusion of other localities, but as
a way of focusing attention and resources to where its two regional campuses were being
developed and where participation rates and other educational and social indicators were
poor. Insufficient indexation of Commonwealth income, coupled with additional
expenses in establishing and maintaining these regional campuses are challenging for a
University of Murdoch’s size and age.
This focus towards engagement in the regions has resulted in successful outcomes for the
University and these are overviewed within this chapter. However, as the University
moves into a phase of consolidation of successful activities in the region, it is intended
that the University will return towards engagement more broadly in all its business. This
goal is yet to be fully articulated and early 2006 will see significant work towards
crystallizing the path required to achieve this.” (PF p82)
The Audit Panel considered this shift in strategy, away from the provision of services to
communities within the particular region(s), towards “engagement more broadly in all its
business” as a further example of Murdoch being in active transition. The Panel decided that it
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needed to visit both the Rockingham and Peel campuses and to interview a range of community
stakeholders, not only at these locations, but also those at the South Street Campus.
7.2
Management of Engagement
For a University that claims it has “always been explicitly committed to community engagement”
(PF p82), the management of this shift in the University’s engagement strategy is critical to an
understanding of the University’s performance in relation to its currently stated engagement
goals.
The Audit Panel noted the recent retirement of the PVC (Regional Development) and that there
had been a “refocus away from primarily a regional view” (PF p85), which culminated in the
disestablishment of that office in 2005, and that as a consequence of that decision, “the Executive
Deans took more direct responsibility for the Rockingham Campus and for the emerging Peel
Campus.” (PF p85)
The Audit Panel also noted that a Regional Campuses Steering Committee and a range of other
“expanded groups” had been established. The Panel had opportunities to meet with members of
these committees and other members of the local communities serviced by the University.
Although these stakeholders had much to say about their interactions with the University that was
extremely positive (see sections 7.3 and 7.5 for examples), there was also a recurring theme of
them experiencing increased difficulty with communications and identifying responsibility for
decision-making.
Though the reasons for the disestablishment of the regional office are understandable, a strong
argument can be made that, during a period when there is a strategic shift in engagement policy,
this is exactly the time when strong focus and unity, rather that dissipation, of leadership is
required. For the University not to provide such leadership is to risk losing the reserve of goodwill and support that has so carefully been built up in those communities over time. The Panel
noted substantial ambiguity and latent concern among various external stakeholders as to the
“message” that the University’s internal structures and responsibilities sends to the communities
with which the University is wishing to engage. It was not clear to either the external stakeholders
or to the Panel that the Executive Deans are effectively exercising the responsibility that has been
given to them by the University in terms of the Rockingham and Peel Campuses.
Recommendation 5
AUQA recommends that Murdoch University urgently clarify and resolve
the allocation of management responsibility for the regional campuses and
for the engagement of the University with the regional stakeholders.
There is a particular observation with respect to engagement at the Rockingham campus in
section 7.5.
7.3
Regional Engagement through Education
In relation to the University’s engagement with the region through its educational activity, the
Audit Panel noted an extensive list of initiatives, including: development of courses to meet local
needs and links with local industry and community partners; and alternative entry arrangements,
including regional articulation arrangements with TAFE. In these categories, the Audit Panel
noted the development of Careers “Combo” courses in Nursing, Business, and (from 2006) in
Education, in collaboration with Challenger TAFE. These “Combos” offer a mix of TAFE and
Murdoch University units and provide a TAFE qualification and a university entry into a relevant
Murdoch course, and reference has already been made to their educational value in
Commendation 10 in section 5.10.
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In combination with what was learned of the establishment of a new School of Nursing at Peel,
and the partnership with the Peel Health Campus, the Audit Panel felt that the University’s
activities in Nursing were particularly noteworthy.
Commendation 12
AUQA commends Murdoch University for its clear demonstration of social
justice and equity and community engagement principles, for example
through initiatives such as the nursing programs at the Peel campus.
7.4
Regional Engagement through Research and Scholarship
Notwithstanding the shift from regional engagement to the “scholarship of engagement in all its
business”, the desired outcome stated in the current Strategic Plan is “to increase research income
stemming from research based in the Rockingham Kwinana Peel region.” (PF p87)
An extensive list of “current and potential collaborative research activities” within the region was
noted, but the Audit Panel concluded that the best examples of the “scholarship of engagement”
in action were the three externally funded “Regional Chairs” (PF pp87–8).
The Portfolio describes how the Research and Development Board identifies priorities and
opportunities for funding that result in the creation of senior positions to provide academic and
research leadership in disciplines that can directly address regional community priorities. A result
that was stated was the appointment of three “Regional Chairs” supported by approximately
$390,000 over three years in each case:
•
City of Rockingham Chair in Education — to provide high-quality leadership for the
teacher education course based at the regional campus and address issues of low school
retention and university participation rate in the Rockingham region (appointed July 2005
and has won an ARC Linkage grant of $200,000+ to seek solutions in partnership with
local teachers).
•
PHC Chair in Nursing — to provide high-quality leadership for the new Nursing course
at Murdoch’s Peel Campus and carry out research in partnership with this private/public
hospital to address local health and wellbeing issues and to provide on-site professional
development for the hospital’s nursing staff (appointed July 2005).
•
City of Mandurah Chair in Entrepreneurship and Business Innovation — to provide highquality leadership for the new business course at the Peel Campus, to carry out relevant
research into business development and to offer workshops to support and stimulate local
small business in this predominantly small business economy (appointed August 2005).
The Audit Panel met with each of these “Regional Chairs” and although it had doubts about some
of the claims made with respect to the utility of the “scholarship of engagement”, the Audit Panel
was satisfied with the value of the work currently being done and the potential for increased flowon effects in terms of generating future research and scholarship opportunities.
With respect to the shift away from a regional community service model towards adoption of the
“scholarship of engagement”, the Audit Panel noted the following assessment by the University
of its current situation:
“Murdoch aspires to build on its long-established commitment and growing success by
developing robust and deeply embedded QA processes within a framework of the
“scholarship of engagement” (Holland, 2005). This will require ensuring that engagement
is built into staff selection and other key processes, as well as being made more
significant (in status as well as “score”) in processes such as staff development and
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promotions. This ‘mainstreaming’ will be the next stage and is seen as an area for
improvement.” (PF p89)
Even though the Portfolio included details of the University giving increased recognition of
service in the Academic Promotions policy (PF p83), the Audit Panel considered this to be an
astute and accurate assessment by Murdoch of its current situation with respect to the deployment
of the “scholarship of engagement”.
Affirmation 8
AUQA affirms Murdoch University’s recognition of the value of adopting an
innovative approach to the scholarship of engagement in the University’s
business as witnessed by the creation of the jointly funded Regional Chairs;
and agrees that closer attention needs to be given to the recognition of this
form of scholarship in the career development and progression of staff.
7.5
The Quality of Engagement Activities at Murdoch
The Audit Panel’s visits to the Rockingham and Peel campuses took place during an important
period of transition at both campuses. At Peel, the campus is still at an early stage of
development, and there are some healthy signs of productive collaboration that bode well for its
future directions. At Rockingham, however, the Panel noted not only the intention to withdraw
some areas of activity such as Engineering back to South Street, but detected a sense of
uncertainty and a potential lack of confidence and commitment among students, staff and
community stakeholders with respect to the University’s plans for the campus. These
observations may well have been consequences of the shift in Engagement philosophy noted
above.
Recommendation 6
AUQA recommends that Murdoch University identify the role that it wishes
each of its campuses to play in meeting the University’s mission concerning
teaching, research, and engagement, and to ensure that the activities
associated with those campuses are consistent with this role.
In this regard, the Audit Panel observes that the purpose and functioning of the Rockingham
campus appears to require special attention.
With respect to the University shifting from a community service model with a strong regional
focus, to a broader “scholarship of engagement in all its business”, despite statements that there is
already provision for “increased recognition of service” in the current Academic Promotions
policy, the reality is that under current policy settings the vast majority of academic staff
invariably are promoted for the quality of research and scholarship in their discipline, rather than
via the “scholarship of engagement”. The University will need to ensure that it can successfully
engage its own community with the “scholarship of engagement” by embedding it within the
emergent corporate and collegial culture of the organisation, through policy and procedure, and
by implementation of its strategy. As noted in Affirmation 10, particularly important in this
regard are the policies and procedures associated with the appointment, promotion, and
recognition of academic staff.
Overall, the Audit Panel reflected on Murdoch’s “broader engagement in all its business” across a
wide range of educational partnerships as they related to the University’s educational mission,
including teaching and learning, research and scholarship, and related consulting, and also with
its transnational educational partners offshore. When these are considered in addition to the
specific engagement initiatives in the Rockingham, Kwinana and Peel region, the Panel had no
hesitation in making the following commendation for engagement.
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Commendation 13
AUQA commends Murdoch University for the development of effective and
close engagement with its educational partners: on campus in the form of
Murdoch College and Murdoch Institute of Technology; with Schools and
TAFE providers in the Murdoch metropolitan region and the
Kwinana/Peel/Rockingham corridor; and with its educational partners
offshore.
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CORPORATE SERVICES
The 2003–2007 Strategic Plan includes the following goal statement and key strategies with
respect to Resource Management:
To achieve Murdoch University’s strategic objectives by providing effective
leadership and applying our human, financial and physical resources in a
planned and accountable fashion.
To increase income from a diversified range of sources.
To attract, develop and retain highly skilled staff within an environment that
motivates them to support Murdoch University’s objectives and to achieve their
full potential
To nurture a strong community spirit. (p8)
“Resource Management” has now been renamed Corporate Services.
Findings and observations on Murdoch’s achievement in relation to its goals for its Corporate
Services are to be found throughout the section.
8.1
Office of Human Resources
The Audit Panel noted that the Office for Human Resources (HR) has operational responsibility
for the following HR functions:
•
Personnel Administration and IT Systems
•
Staff Training and Development [Professional Development Review (PDR) and General
Training and Leadership Development]
•
Recruitment
•
Academic Promotion and Probation
•
Remuneration and Benefits Administration
•
Employee Relations, and
•
Communications.
In the Performance Portfolio the HR Services section is introduced in the following manner:
“The Director, appointed in April 2004, identified through internal review that
communication was minimal throughout the organisation, as well as within HR itself, and
that HR made no tangible ‘value-add’ at the strategic planning table. As well, imperatives
such as deregulation and increased competition in the higher education sector, significant
industrial relations reforms and onerous employer compliance regimes highlighted the
need for proactive HR management.” (PF p91)
As already noted in section 1 of this Report, the key recommendations and the identification of
areas for improvement in both the 2005 WOIA and the AUQA Performance Portfolio were to do
with organisational culture and resolving related HR management issues, such as those listed
above.
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The suite of recommendations that follow are intended to assist the University to resolve these
issues, and hence help Murdoch to address the more complex organisational culture issue that lies
at the heart of both the self-identified and externally validated review findings.
As the University transitions to an environment of continued policy and funding changes as well
as increased competition, the accountability of individuals and groups for meeting performance
outcomes is likely to increase. While the change in the external and internal operating
environment may require greater attention to these areas, this attention will need to be balanced
with the ongoing Murdoch ethos.
The impact of the transition will be felt across many aspects of the University’s operations, but is
likely to be most evident in areas where typical corporate functions such as Human Resources,
Finance and Corporate Services/Facilities Management interface with the core university
activities. AUQA has noted that strong views on the merging of corporate and collegial cultures
exist in some areas of the University and confirm the 2005 WOIA observation regarding the risks
to Murdoch if these cultural emphases are not managed appropriately.
HR has an integral role to play in ensuring new requirements are conveyed in a sensitive and
informed way, and HR management must be orientated towards Murdoch’s particular set of
organisational characteristics. Equally all staff have a responsibility to develop awareness of the
changing environment in which the University is operating as well as to provide input to the
transition process so as to develop a sustainable balance between the corporate and collegial
needs of the University.
A particular aspect of disenchantment was the diminishing resource level available for staff to
enable them to participate in professional development activities, and along with this a perception
that the University’s Performance Development Review (PDR) system was not working as it
should. The Performance Portfolio had this to say with respect to the PDR system:
“The key for improvement will be to complete the roll out of PDR throughout the
University by revising the voluntary nature of the adaptation and participation in PDR to
improve its take up and effectiveness. Linking PDR to promotions, planning, budgets and
staff development is also seen as an area for improvement.” (PF p93)
This management process must be handled in a sensitive, open and consistent manner.
Recommendation 7
AUQA recommends that Murdoch University develops within Human
Resources an enhanced understanding of the particular role of human
resource management within a University context, and in particular in the
context that Murdoch finds itself.
During the Audit Visit these observations were confirmed in the interviews with staff, both
academic and general, and across all levels and parts of the University. There is a need to bring
efficiency to the business services and activities that support the academic services and activities
of the University, but there is evidence to suggest that some initiatives are hampering, rather than
enhancing, the academic services and activities. In addition to this, there have been a number of
shifts in the apparent management culture and profile of the University. For instance, there is a
significant gender imbalance in the senior management of the University, and structured career
advancement opportunities for female staff has, if anything, diminished in the last few years. The
fact that some in senior management did not see this as a matter of concern is itself a matter of
concern to AUQA.
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Recommendation 8
AUQA recommends that Murdoch University more clearly define its
commitment to gender equity, and urgently implement an action plan to
provide opportunities for women to advance in their careers and in a range
of leadership roles across the University.
During the course of the interviews, the Audit Panel made the observation that apart from those
sessions where it had specifically requested to meet with junior or recently appointed staff, a
large number of Murdoch staff interviewed, and especially the academic staff, had been with the
University for considerable periods of time. This observation led the Panel to request an
additional interview session with “eight junior/new academic staff, including sessional and
contact staff who met with the WOIA Panel” on the last day of the Audit Visit.
The overall impression gained from these various interactions, as mentioned earlier in section 1
of this report, was that Murdoch staff exhibit great enthusiasm for the University, its mission, and
that they value its distinctive organisational culture. However, the Panel also discerned an
opportunity for the university to involve staff in high-level decision-making processes, especially
those staff who believe that they have a contribution to make.
The capability of the University to undergo revitalisation and cultural renewal will to a large
extent be dependent on the organisation’s ability to reinvigorate its staffing profile.
Recommendation 9
AUQA recommends that Murdoch University urgently develops systems to
attract, support, and advance early career academics across all aspects of
teaching, research, and engagement; and encourages such staff to engage in
the University’s strategic change processes, so they can be actively involved
in the shaping of the institution’s future.
Another factor requiring urgent attention is the apparent lack of preparation and support provided
to Heads of School in the performance of their duties. Although this, in part, is a responsibility of
the Executive Deans, the Panel was not convinced that this is a responsibility being given priority
or attention by those senior managers. The Audit Panel interviewed a significant number of
Heads of School, and although there was some variation across the University, the majority
indicated that they had not had any formal induction for, or training in, their important roleresponsibilities.
In university management structures, the Head of School is often situated exactly at the point
where ‘the corporate’ and ‘the collegial’ dimensions of the organisation intersect. Given the clear
acknowledgement by the University of the need to “successfully merge corporate and collegial
cultures”, it is particularly important to ensure that the Executive Deans are able to meet their
agreed responsibilities to communicate with, mentor, and support their Heads of School.
Recommendation 10
AUQA recommends that Murdoch University urgently develops systems to
provide structured training specifically designed for Heads of School and
others in important line management roles.
The question of whether such training should be mandated was not considered by the Panel, as
this appears to be a decision for the University.
One of the AUQA self-review findings for improvement in Corporate Service was that “Murdoch
University needs to develop a strategic workforce planning process.” (PF p101) However, no
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specific details of what such a process might involve were provided to the Panel, even when
relevant senior staff met with the Panel during the Audit Visit.
In this respect, in the Research section of this Report, the Audit Panel acknowledged the value of
the Research Succession Plan in enabling the University to make critically important
appointments, in order to:
•
replace research leaders whose recent or imminent retirement may place continuation of a
research group in jeopardy
•
fund potential research leaders at a junior to mid-career stage of development, and
•
provide bridging support in special circumstances for current externally funded fellows
that are not renewed (eg holders of ARC Fellowships).
The academic staff profile for Murdoch indicates a decrease in the proportion of younger
academics (35 years and younger) and an increase in the proportion over 55.
The academic staff profile in the latest available Institutional Assessment Framework for
Murdoch shows an increase in the proportion of staff employed at Level C and above (i.e. at
senior levels) and a lower proportion at Level A (i.e. the most junior level).
Recommendation 11
AUQA recommends that Murdoch University extends the succession
planning strategy for researchers to a whole-of-university staff succession
planning process as a means of addressing the looming retirement of the
cohort of long-term academic staff.
8.2
Office of Information Technology Services
The Office of Information Technology Services (ITS) has overall responsibility for planning,
developing and operating Murdoch’s central information and communications infrastructure. In
the 2005 WOIA and AUQA self-review, the University acknowledged that it “needed to develop
appropriate strategies to deliver services, infrastructure, appropriate risk-management controls
and IT funding to meet its long term needs.” (PF p101) The Panel also observed that after being
put on hold pending the outcome of the merger discussions, the University-wide IT Review was
back on the planning and review agenda.
Affirmation 9
AUQA affirms Murdoch University’s decision to focus on improving the
provision of the information technology infrastructure and associated
services; particular attention needs to be given to ensuring all relevant staff
and students, including those associated with international partners, have an
equality of access.
8.3
Office of Commercial Services
The Office of Commercial Services (OCS) provides a wide and diverse range of services such as
security, mail and building maintenance along with other functions such as the management of
commercial tenancy service.
Murdoch maintains that the University’s strategic objectives are “the key drivers” for OCS
activity: “optimising the University’s resources for a customer focused service in meeting its core
objectives in the areas of teaching and learning, and Research and Development.” (PF p97) For
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example, the 2006 University budget allocated significant additional funding to OCS to
implement plans to address the University’s acknowledged maintenance backlog.
8.4
Office of Financial Services
The Office of Financial Services (OFS) has overall responsibility for the financial management of
the University. This includes the key areas of Financial Accounting and Management
Accounting. The office is responsible for financial and statutory reporting and taxation, along
with treasury and cash flow management. The University’s financial system is Finance One.
Insurance and the emerging area of procurement are also managed through this office.
OFS has put in place the Financial Process Improvement Group (FPIG) whose brief it was “to
prioritise and develop improvement initiatives across the University, and that identified areas for
improvement included automation, improved use of finance system functionality and updated and
informative policies and guidelines.” (PF p99) The FPIG was established with representatives
from OFS and all divisions within the University with the aim of addressing some of the key
areas for process improvements, and to identify and implement appropriate solutions.
8.5
Office of Corporate Communications and Public Relations and Office of Development
Until 2006, the Office of Development was placed within the portfolio of the PVC (Regional
Development) and had responsibilities for Development, the Murdoch University Foundation,
Alumni and Careers. In line with the refocus of engagement activities mentioned in section 7 of
this Report, the Foundation and Development function was subsequently placed within Corporate
Services as the Office of Corporate Communications and Public Relations (CCPR) and Office of
Development, while Alumni and Careers was placed within the portfolio of the PVC (S).
AUQA notes the establishment of the Murdoch University Foundation, and the consistency of its
establishment with the University’s stated objectives to raise additional revenue.
8.6
The Quality of Corporate Services at Murdoch
The Performance Portfolio states that: “The Division of Corporate Services utilises the internal
and external audit processes to test and improve the broad range of management processes
encompassed by the various Offices of HR, IT, OCS, OFS, and CCPR”. (PF p100) AUQA
confirmed this observation. The Audit Panel witnessed what was possible in the effective way
that the University had retrieved information required for the external audit, and urges that this
capability be harnessed for in-house use.
Affirmation 10
AUQA affirms Murdoch University’s intention to attend to its IT Review
recommendations as soon as possible in 2006 in order to enhance the
University’s capacity to communicate internally and externally, as well as
enhance to successful functioning of all parts of the University.
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CONCLUSIONS/LOOKING AHEAD
In the concluding chapter of its Performance Portfolio, Murdoch had this to say in its overall
assessment of its own performance:
“Murdoch University is a vibrant, high quality teaching and research institution that
contributes significantly to the southwest region of Western Australia. In recent years it
has seen consolidation and growth that has positioned it well to capitalise on future
opportunities. It is proud of its achievements across teaching, research and engagement
and sees a very positive future ahead for continued excellence.
Nevertheless, like all Australian universities, Murdoch is in an environment of
insufficient indexation of Commonwealth grants, increased competition, and increasing
costs. Financially supporting the development of regional campuses is significant for a
university of Murdoch’s size and age.
Murdoch University anticipates substantial changes in the higher education sector over
coming years. It has clearly identified that it cannot stay still, and if the institution is to
thrive, it needs to adapt and improve. Its foresight in development of alternative sources
of support through the Murdoch University Foundation and other commercial initiatives
are benefiting the staff, students and community as a whole.
Along with maintenance of Murdoch’s significant strengths, which are clearly identified
throughout this Portfolio, the University acknowledges that to continue to improve it
needs to be vigilant and honest in its self-appraisal, and to seek actions as a result of that
self-appraisal…
Murdoch University is confident that with intelligent and thoughtful leadership, coupled
with its reputation for energy and innovation, it will move forward into the next decade
as a leading University nationally and internationally.” (PF pp102–3)
Through the findings of this Audit, the Panel broadly concurs with this self-review judgement of
what is required for Murdoch to achieve ongoing success across a number of broad fronts.
Looking ahead, the deployment of a balanced approach will be vital, that balances the
expectations of the academic community that Murdoch’s reputation for academic excellence will
be preserved, against the need to fill student load and generate additional research and
development income, while at the same time, the University continues to fulfil its commitment to
equity and social justice principles, as well as addressing the University’s other ‘defining themes’
such as the drive for sustainability and increased innovation and entrepreneurship.
For the reasons stated throughout this Report, AUQA agrees absolutely with the University that,
during this period of transition, merging the corporate and collegial cultures in a sensitive and
intelligent manner will be absolutely crucial to the University’s chances of achieving sustainable
success in the longer term.
Affirmation 11
AUQA affirms the intention of Murdoch University to align and integrate
“corporate” and “collegial” approaches to discussion and decision-making;
particular efforts should be placed on a wider array of communication
strategies between the Senior Executive Group and other staff of the
University.
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The most effective way to progress this integration in a practical manner would be for the
leadership of the University to thoughtfully and actively engage the entire Murdoch community
in the reinvigorated strategic planning process. The commitment by various members of the
senior management to more obviously recognise and value staff across the University is
promising, and the focused development of a culture of recognition will be critical for the
University’s future.
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APPENDIX A: Murdoch University
History and Location
Murdoch University was established as a research-based university with comprehensive disciplinary
coverage and a strong commitment to innovation and an interdisciplinary focus. The University, named
after Sir Walter Murdoch, a prominent Australian academic and essayist, was the second established in
Western Australia. Murdoch University opened to undergraduate students in 1975, taking in 672
students. It has gone on to become an institution with an outstanding reputation in teaching and with a
strong, intensive research profile. It has achieved a Five Star Good Universities Guide rating for good
teaching in ten out of the last eleven years. In 2004 the University ranked eighth in Australia for
competitive block research grant income per full-time equivalent (FTE) research-active academic staff.
All those universities ranked higher have established medical schools, as have three ranked lower.
Murdoch University has three campuses: the main campus is the Murdoch Campus in the suburb of
Murdoch, approximately 15km south of the Perth CBD. The other two campuses are located further to
the south: the Rockingham Campus (opened 1996) some 45km south of the Perth CBD and the Peel
Campus (opened 2004) some 79km south of the Perth CBD. The Peel Campus is part of the Peel
Education and TAFE Campus and is co-located with the Mandurah Senior College and Challenger TAFE.
Murdoch also offers selected courses transnationally through partners in Japan, Malaysia and Singapore.
Murdoch University is an original member of the Innovative Research Universities Australia (IRUA)
group, which also includes Flinders, Griffith, La Trobe, Macquarie and Newcastle. All six were
established during the period of higher education expansion in the 1960s and 1970s: each is
internationally recognised, student-focused and shares common aims, standards and values. In the
relatively brief period since its establishment, the IRUA has formed an active alliance and strong voice in
the higher education sector.
Academic Profile
Murdoch University has three academic Divisions:
• The Division of Arts comprising eight Schools
— Institute for Sustainability and Technology Policy
— Kulbardi Aboriginal Centre
— Murdoch Business School
— School of Education
— School of IT
— School of Law
— School of Media Communication and Culture
— School of Social Sciences and Humanities.
• The Division of Health Sciences comprising five Schools
— School of Chiropractic
— School of Nursing
— School of Pharmacy
— School of Psychology
— School of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences.
• The Division of Science and Engineering comprising four Schools
— School of Biological Sciences and Biotechnology
— School of Chemical and Mathematical Sciences
— School of Electrical, Energy and Process Engineering
— School of Environmental Science.
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The University has identified seven Areas of Research Strength:
• Academy of Advanced Studies
• Agricultural and Veterinary Biotechnology and Bioinformatics
• Contemporary Asia
• Ecosystem Management and Restoration
• Hydrometallurgy
• Social Change and Social Equity
• Technologies and Policies for Sustainable Development.
And two Emerging Areas of Research Strength:
• Interactive Media
• Learning, Leadership and Policy: Research Across Methodological Paradigms.
Key Statistics 2006
Total Student Enrolments (as at 19 June 2006):
13,369
Research Student Enrolments (as at 19 June 2006):
864
International Student Enrolments (as at 19 June 2006):
2,128
Total Student Teaching Load (EFTSL) (as at 19 June 2006):
9,496
Total Staff FTE (not including casual staff):
Academic:
492.75
General:
738.00
Total:
1,240.75
Total Operating Revenues (2005) (Consolidated):
$195.692m
Total Operating Expenses (2005) (Consolidated):
$185.969m
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APPENDIX B: AUQA’S MISSION, OBJECTIVES, VALUES AND VISION
Mission
By means of quality audits of universities and accrediting agencies, and otherwise, AUQA will provide
public assurance of the quality of Australia’s universities and other institutions of higher education, and
will assist in improving the academic quality of these institutions.
Objectives
1. Arrange and manage a system of periodic audits of quality assurance arrangements relating to the
activities of Australian universities, other self-accrediting institutions and state and territory higher
education accreditation bodies.
2. Monitor, review, analyse and provide public reports on quality assurance arrangements in selfaccrediting institutions, and on processes and procedures of state and territory accreditation
authorities, and on the impact of those processes on quality of programs.
3. Report on the criteria for the accreditation of new universities and non-university higher education
courses as a result of information obtained during the audit of institutions and state and territory
accreditation processes.
4. Report on the relative standards of the Australian higher education system and its quality assurance
processes, including their international standing, as a result of information obtained during the audit
process.
Values
AUQA will be:
• Thorough: AUQA carries out all its audits as thoroughly as possible.
• Supportive: recognising institutional autonomy in setting objectives and implementing processes to
achieve them, AUQA acts to facilitate and support this.
• Flexible: AUQA operates flexibly, in order to acknowledge and reinforce institutional diversity.
• Cooperative: recognising that the achievement of quality in any organisation depends on a
commitment to quality within the organisation itself, AUQA operates as unobtrusively as is
consistent with effectiveness and rigour.
• Collaborative: as a quality assurance agency, AUQA works collaboratively with the accrediting
agencies (in addition to its audit role with respect to these agencies).
• Transparent: AUQA’s audit procedures, and its own quality assurance system are open to public
scrutiny.
• Economical: AUQA operates cost-effectively and keeps as low as possible the demands it places on
institutions and agencies.
• Open: AUQA reports publicly and clearly on its findings in relation to institutions, agencies and the
sector.
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Vision
•
AUQA’s judgements will be widely recognised as objective, fair, accurate, perceptive, rigorous and
useful: AUQA has established detailed and effective procedures for audit, that include auditor
appointment and training, extensive and thorough investigation, and consistent implementation.
•
AUQA will work in partnership with institutions and accrediting agencies to add value to their
activities: AUQA audit is based on self-review, acknowledges the characteristics of the institution or
agency being audited, and accepts comment from the auditee on the best way of expressing the audit
findings.
•
AUQA’s advice will be sought on matters related to quality assurance in higher education: AUQA
will carry out consulting activities, including workshops, publications, and advising, and will publish
and maintain a database of good practice.
•
AUQA will be recognised among its international peers as a leading quality assurance agency:
AUQA will build international links to learn from and provide leadership to other agencies, and will
work with other agencies to the benefit of Australian institutions.
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APPENDIX C: THE AUDIT PANEL
Mr Robert Carmichael, Audit Director, AUQA, Melbourne, Victoria
Dr Fran Pesich, Senior Consultant, Archistruct Pty Ltd, Perth, Western Australia
Professor Kevin McConkey, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic), University of Newcastle, New South
Wales (Chair)
Dr John S Rowett, Secretary General, Association of Commonwealth Universities, London, UK
Mr John Shipp, University Librarian, University of Sydney
Observer:
Ms Joyce B. Mwikali Mutinda, Assistant Commission Secretary (Curriculum), Commission for Higher
Education, Nairobi, Kenya
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APPENDIX D: ABBREVIATIONS AND DEFINITIONS
The following abbreviations and definitions are used in this Report. As necessary, they are explained in
context.
AC ............................................ Academic Council
AOU ......................................... Academic Organisational Unit
APA .......................................... Australian Postgraduate Award
APC .......................................... Academic Policy Committee
AQAC....................................... Academic Quality Audit Committee
ARC.......................................... Australian Research Council
ARMC ...................................... Audit and Risk Management Committee
ARS .......................................... Areas of Research Strength
ATN.......................................... Australian Technology Network
ATSI ......................................... Aboriginal and Torres Straits Islanders
AUQA ...................................... Australian Universities Quality Agency
CCARS ..................................... Committee for Centres and Areas of Research Strength
CCPR........................................ Office of Corporate Communications and Public Relations
CEQ .......................................... Course Experience Questionnaire
CRC(s)...................................... Cooperative Research Centre(s)
DEST ........................................ Australian Government Department of Education, Science and Training
ED............................................. Executive Dean
EFTSL ...................................... Equivalent Full-time Student Load
ESL........................................... English as a Second Language
FLIC ......................................... Flexible Learning Implementation Committee
FoE ........................................... Field of Study
FPIG ......................................... Financial Process Improvement Group
FTE........................................... Full-time equivalent
FYE .......................................... First Year Experience (survey)
GAMP ...................................... Graduate Attribute Mapping Tool
GCCA ....................................... Graduate Careers Council of Australia
GCUS ....................................... General Counsel and University Secretary
GDS .......................................... Graduate Destinations Survey
HoS........................................... Head of School
HR ............................................ Office of Human Resources
IA&RM .................................... Internal Audit & Risk Management
IP .............................................. Intellectual Property
IRUA ........................................ Innovative Research Universities Australia
ITS ............................................ Information Technology Services
KPIs .......................................... Key Performance Indicators
KAC.......................................... Kulbardi Aboriginal Centre
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MCEETYA................................Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth
Affairs
MEXT........................................(Japanese) Ministry of Education And Training
MWEP.......................................Murdoch Westscheme Enterprise Partnership
National Protocols/Protocols.....National Protocols for Higher Education Approval Processes
OAG ..........................................Office of the Auditor General
OCS ...........................................Office of Commercial services
OFS............................................Office of Financial Services
OLG...........................................Office of Legal and Governance
PDR ...........................................Performance Development Review
PF p ...........................................Performance Portfolio page reference
PHC ...........................................Peel Health Campus
Portfolio.....................................Murdoch University Performance Portfolio, 2006
PREQ.........................................Postgraduate Research Experience Questionnaire
PVC ...........................................Pro Vice-Chancellor
QA .............................................Quality Assurance
R&D ..........................................Research and Development
RDB...........................................Research and Development Board
RDSC ........................................Research Degree and Scholarships Committee
RQF ...........................................Research Quality Framework
SEG ...........................................Senior Executive Group
SPR............................................Student Progress Rate
SRR ...........................................Student Retention Rate
TAFE.........................................Technical And Further Education
TLC ...........................................Teaching and Learning Centre
TT ..............................................Time-Table/Time-Tabling
VC .............................................Vice-Chancellor
WOIA ........................................Whole-of-Institution Audit
WUE..........................................Whole-of-University Experience (survey)
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