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University of Otago commended for changes

7 December 2006

University of Otago commended for changes

The University of Otago has been commended by an independent audit team for the collegiality and strength of communication between the University community and senior management.

As part of a three-year programme assessing each of New Zealand’s eight Universities, the New Zealand Universities Academic Audit team spent five days at the Otago’s Dunedin and Christchurch campuses in July, speaking to about 200 people, including external stakeholders.

The audit team commented specifically on the job being performed by Vice-Chancellor Professor David Skegg: “Changes to the senior management team have brought new approaches to strategic processes and the University is commended for the increasing collegiality and the reported strength of communication and relations between the University community and the senior executive.”

Leading on from this, the University was commended for the inclusive nature of consultation around the development of the University’s Strategic Direction to 2012 document, the strength and depth of relationships between Dunedin city and the University, and progress made in responding to Treaty of Waitangi commitments.

It also commented on the University’s strong reputation for high-quality education, as well as the processes that are in place to assure this quality, its student facilities, including the Information Services Building, and the “lively and distinctive campus life”.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic and International) Professor Gareth Jones says the auditor’s feedback is positive and endorses the work of many people across the University.

“To receive that independent feedback and positive benchmarking is satisfying. It reassures us that we are indeed focusing energy on the areas critical to the University’s ongoing success.”

Professor Jones says the team did note some areas for improvement, including report-back and monitoring mechanisms where the implementation of policies has been devolved to divisions and departments, undertaking strategic benchmarking and the training of research supervisors.

“These are areas where we are working on making meaningful change. The Unit offered some useful and appropriate recommendations which would streamline the processes around these activities and we are working our way through these recommendations now.”

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Background

o The New Zealand Universities Academic Audit Unit was established in 1993 to consider and review New Zealand universities’ mechanisms for monitoring and enhancing the academic quality and standards necessary for achieving their stated aims and objectives; and to comment on the extent to which procedures in place are applied effectively and reflect good practice in maintaining quality.

o Cycle 1 academic audits were conducted during the period 1995-1998 and were full institutional audits of the then seven universities.

o Cycle 2 academic audits were conducted during the period 2000-2001. They focused on research policy and management, the research-teaching nexus and the support of postgraduate students

o Cycle 3 academic audits are focused on teaching quality, programme delivery and the achievement of learning outcomes. They are being conducted over the period 2003-2006.


ENDS

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