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Improving reviews – can the centre hold?

Weir, J., Webbstock, D. and Dixon, J. (2003) Improving reviews – can the centre hold? In: ATN Evaluations and Assessment Conference, 24 - 25 November, Adelaide

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This paper undertakes an exploration of quality reviews, focusing on the tension between central organisation and ownership at the periphery. At Monash, area reviews form a major component of the evaluation moment in the quality management system of planning, acting, evaluating and improving at the organizational level and throughout all levels of the university. All areas, including support services, faculties and research centres are subject to review. Similarly, at the University of Natal in South Africa, cyclical reviews are required for all areas of university activity. The models of implementation, are, however, very different. The Centre for Higher Education Quality (CHEQ) is responsible for leading and supporting driving quality within Monash University, but devolves the responsibility for organising and conducting the reviews resides with to the area concerned. On the other hand, the Quality Promotion Unit at the University of Natal has a comparatively greater role in running the reviews concerned. In both instances the Units are busy reflecting on their processes on the basis of their experiences and feedback from the areas concerned. In this paper we examine and compare the approaches so that the resulting lessons from these experiences will be of use to other universities undertaking reviews in support services and faculties. We focus particularly on the issue of how much involvement is optimal and what sort of support is needed for areas conducting reviews.

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