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Review of University Institutes and Centres Guideline

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Section 1 - Purpose and Objectives

(1) This Guideline enacts:

  1. Supervisory Organisational Structure Policy and 
  2. Review of University Institutes and Centres Procedure.
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Section 2 - Definitions, Terms, Acronyms

No entries for this document.
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Section 3 - Guideline Scope/Coverage

(2) This Guideline applies to the review of University Institutes and Centres at The University of Queensland.

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Section 4 - Guideline Statement

(3) The following guidelines are provided to review committees to assist in the preparation for, and conduct of, the review:

  1. Review week – proposed broad model;
  2. Sample questions; and
  3. Review of University Institutes and Centres - Report Template.

(4) The timeline below provides guidance to institutes/centres and review committees on the general timeline of events for the pre-review, review, and post-review phases of the review process.

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Section 5 - Guidelines

Review Week – Proposed Broad Model

Sunday evening
  • Dinner for all members of the review committee and the secretary to discuss review issues and orient external members to University procedures and protocols.
Monday morning
  • Welcome by the President of the Academic Board (15 minutes).

• Interviews with the Vice-Chancellor and Provost (30 minutes each).

• Interview with relevant Executive Dean about the procedures and protocols of the University, including its academic organisational structure and resource allocation processes (30 minutes).

• Interview with the Director of the Institute/Centre (60 minutes).
Monday afternoon
  • Interviews with academic, professional and research staff, representatives of professional and other external bodies, and undergraduate and postgraduate students.
Tuesday morning
  • Interviews with Deputy Vice-Chancellors, Deputy Provost (where relevant), Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous Engagement), and the Dean, Graduate School (20 minutes each).
Tuesday afternoon
  • Visit to institute/centre, inspection of institute/centre facilities, informal gathering to meet all institute/centre staff; and

• Report writing.
Tuesday evening
  • Stakeholder dinner in the evening for all review committee members and representatives of professional bodies and employer groups.
Wednesday morning
  • Report writing.

• Meeting with Director to discuss draft recommendations (60 minutes); and

• Meeting with Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation)/Executive Dean to discuss draft recommendations.
Wednesday afternoon
  • Meeting with President of the Academic Board and Provost at lunch to discuss draft recommendations.

• Preparation for presentation to institute/centre.

• Presentation of draft recommendations to all staff at the institute/centre - all review committee members to attend (60 minutes); and

• Finalisation of report in penultimate draft form.


12 months prior to Institute/Centre Review
  Institute/Centre notified of date of review.
  Workshop for Directors of Institutes/Centres and key administrative staff conducted by President of the Academic Board.
  Academic Board Standing Committee representative on review committee briefs institute’s/centre’s staff on review process.
  Two-day Retreat held to discuss the institute’s/centre’s Operational Plan and key review issues/priorities (to include address by President of the Academic Board).
  Detailed minutes from the Retreat used as ongoing reference during preparations.
  Determine benchmark universities and contact them for data.
  Check CEQ, AUSSE and SET-C data will be available.
10 - 11 months prior to Institute/Centre Review
  Check that preparation process is progressing as planned (e.g. consultative committees are meeting).
  Director to commence meeting with institute/centre staff and outside groups/stakeholders who are likely to be interviewed to discuss relevant issues (e.g. HDR students; Level A staff).
9 months prior to Institute/Centre Review
  Explore in-depth key issues for growth or change.
  Meet with other relevant institutes/centres to discuss their submissions to the Institute’s/Centre’s Review.
7 months prior to Institute/Centre Review
  Director prepares the Institute’s/Centre’s review submission template and nominates relevant staff to coordinate/write sections of the document.
  Collection of data for relevant section-coordinator undertaken by administrative staff.
  Section-coordinators meet with committees/groups to allocate writing of subsections where required.
  Academic staff to focus research discussions on past strengths and future directions.
  Data from academic staff (e.g. awards, editorial boards) provided to review submission section–coordinators.
6 – 2 months prior to Institute/Centre Review
  Drafting of the sections of the review submission.
  Collating of draft sections by section heads.
  Draft sections sent to external editor.
  Overwriting of draft sections by Director of Institute/Centre.
  Commence final publishing layout of review submission.
  Director to commence final writing and editing of review submission.
  Drafts of particular sections sent to Provost/Executive Dean for feedback, as required.
Week prior to Institute/Centre Review
  Director to meet with potential interview groups to explain review process and purpose of their meeting with review committee.
  Plan review committee’s visit to institute/centre and tour of facilities.
  Arrange catering for review committee’s visit to institute/centre.
  Director to meet with senior staff to confirm institute’s/centre’s key messages.
Week of the Institute/Centre Review
  Schedule feedback meetings for staff interviewees with Director and relevant colleagues.
  Director and Institute/Centre Manager to keep diaries clear for the week and be ready to assist as required.
  Review committee to finalise review report within two weeks of the review.
  Copy of report sent to Director for preparation of institute’s/centre’s written response (this is expected to be completed within four weeks of receipt of the report).
  The review report, the institute’s/centre’s response together with comments from the Provost/Executive Dean is forwarded to the next meeting of Academic Board Standing Committee (the Director and Provost/Executive Dean attend the meeting to discuss the review recommendations).
  The review report, together with Academic Board Standing Committee's comments are submitted to the Academic Board and then submitted to Senate for approval.
  Once review report is approved by Senate, the report becomes a public document.
  A 12-month implementation report is required for all reviews (submitted to Academic Board Standing Committee 12 months after Senate approval of the review report).

Sample Questions

(5) The following list includes areas which might be explored:


  1. What steps are taken to foster honours and postgraduate education and improve the training of researchers at higher degree and postdoctoral levels?
  2. Can the institute/centre meet the demand for postgraduate supervision?
  3. What are the institute’s/centre's recognised areas of research excellence?
  4. What evidence is there of national and international recognition of the institute’s/centre's research?
  5. What effort is made to emphasise, promote, and fund excellence in research within the institute/centre?
  6. Are undergraduate students involved in research activities and is the value of research promoted at undergraduate level?
  7. Do the research interests of the institute/centre provide a range of opportunities for research by postgraduate students?
  8. Does the institute/centre evaluate research performance by means of an appropriate set of performance indicators and allocate funds for research competitively and on the basis of performance?
  9. How does the institute’s/centre's publication record compare with that of like institutes/centres in other institutions?
  10. What is the institute’s/centre's level of success in attracting research funding?
  11. What external avenues are available to the institute/centre to seek additional research support?


  1. What developments have occurred in the discipline/s during the past seven years?
  2. How have these developments been reflected in the courses taught by the institute/centre?
  3. How does the institute’s/centre’s future planning take into account current community needs?
  4. To what extent have the new developments been encouraged/supported by the faculty/University?
  5. Does the institute/centre have appropriate and adequate liaison with schools for which it provides teaching, and with relevant outside bodies?
  6. What contribution is made to continuing education, professional or otherwise, and how is it rewarded?
  7. What attempt is made to meet the intellectual and cultural needs of society?
  8. What innovative teaching methods are employed?
  9. What teaching and learning facilities are available to students?
  10. Is there a sustained pattern of demand or lack of demand for any of the courses taught by the institute/centre?
  11. What are the career destinations of the institute’s/centre’s graduates?
  12. What attempts are being made to increase the number of postgraduate students in the institute/centre?


  1. How is the institute/centre involved in service to the University?
  2. To what extent does the institute/centre cooperate and collaborate with other tertiary education institutions?
  3. What steps does the institute/centre take to promote public awareness of its activities and their contribution to the social, cultural, and economic development of society?
  4. How extensive is staff involvement in academic, professional and service organisations?
  5. What links does the institute/centre have with alumni, government at all levels, industry, commerce, the professions, and the community generally?
  6. To what extent is the institute/centre aware of the needs of industry, commerce and the professions?
  7. What links has the institute/centre established with industry, commerce and the professions to acquire research support?


  1. Does the institute/centre have, or does it need, a program for effective recruitment of international students?
  2. What attempts are being made to increase the proportion of international students?
  3. Does the institute/centre have mechanisms to support its international students?
  4. Does the institute/centre have research collaborations/links with international institutions?

Equity and Diversity Issues

  1. Does the institute/centre ensure equality of opportunity?
  2. What effort is made to encourage the enrolment and access of students from minority and disadvantaged groups?
  3. Is there a need to change traditional gender patterns within the area of study?

Organisational Issues

  1. Is there an appropriate (i) supply, and (ii) balance of senior/junior staff, academic/professional staff in the institute/centre to support teaching, research and administrative functions, currently and for planned growth?
  2. Does the institute/centre have effective administrative and technical support?
  3. Does the institute/centre have difficulty recruiting staff and, if so, to what does this appear to be due?
  4. Does the institute/centre have staff development and training policies in place and working?
  5. Are there arrangements for the regular review and appraisal of staff?
  6. Are there reward schemes to establish a close relationship between performance, salaries, and other conditions of work?
  7. How flexible are salary arrangements and conditions of service within the institute/centre?
  8. Does the institute/centre have a workload document, and actively manage the workload of its staff?
  9. What is the role of professors within the institute/centre?
  10. How does the institute/centre create an organisational climate that ensures that academic, professional, technical and administrative staff work together effectively?
  11. What is the nature of the institute’s/centre’s decision-making processes?
  12. How are funds allocated within the institute/centre?
  13. How effective is communication within the institute/centre?
  14. How effectively does the institute/centre conduct its strategic planning, including regular reviews of its aims and achievements?
  15. Does the institute/centre set targets and monitor performance?
  16. Has the institute/centre developed a sound research infrastructure?
  17. Are equipment, accommodation and other research facilities adequate?
  18. How successful is the institute/centre in securing the share of internal funding that it believes necessary or appropriate?
  19. How does the institute’s/centre's budget compare with the budgets of other institutes/centres in the University/faculty in relation to size and function?
  20. How efficient is the institute/centre in using its resources to ensure the fulfilment of its mission?
  21. What does the institute/centre do to attract external support from industry, professions, corporations, and the University's alumni?
  22. What attempts, if any, are being made to increase income from continuing professional education?
  23. Are the resources to the institute/centre adequate to meet its commitments to high quality research and to allow it to compete for research performance related funds?
  24. Does the institute/centre encourage entrepreneurial activity?
  25. Does the institute/centre maximise returns from innovative research and technology transfer?
  26. Is the accommodation provided to the institute/centre appropriate and adequate for the research projects of staff and students?
  27. Is the accommodation sufficient for current activities, and planned or anticipated growth?
  28. Are research facilities (e.g. equipment) up-to-date and in sufficient supply?
  29. Does the institute/centre have sufficient appropriately qualified technical and administrative staff to support research endeavours?
  30. Does the administration and organisation of the institute/centre allow for the most effective use of the research facilities?

Advisory Boards

  1. If the institute/centre has an advisory board, is it functioning well?
  2. If not, how can it be improved (e.g. review composition/membership, change terms of reference, increase frequency of meetings)?
  3. If the institute/centre does not have an advisory board, would it benefit from establishing one?
  4. If so, what would the main functions of the advisory board be (e.g. to increase industry engagement, strengthen links with the scientific community, ensure input from employer groups, improve the units' governance structure)?
  5. Would the institute/centre be able to secure a membership that would ensure the satisfactory functioning of the advisory board, and therefore, be able to meet its objectives?

Relationship with other Institutes/Centres

  1. What is the institute’s/centre’s involvement with other centres and institutes within the University?
  2. What proportion of staff and students of the institute/centre are directly involved with those institutes/centres?
  3. How is the institute’s/centre’s involvement with those institutes/centres contributing to its research and/or community service profiles?
  4. Should the institute/centre make changes in its relationship with those institutes/centres?

Role of the Institute/Centre

  1. Has the institute/centre outlined appropriate goals for the future?
  2. Is the institute/centre able to project a corporate identity or sense of unity?
  3. Is the institute/centre clear about its priorities and the relative importance of its different activities in achieving its stated objectives?
  4. Has the institute/centre established realistic targets for student recruitment to its programs and the output of graduates and postgraduates?
  5. Has the institute/centre established appropriate directions and targets for its research and research output?
  6. What is the national and international standing of the institute/centre in relation to similar institutes/centres within Queensland and Australia?
  7. Should the institute/centre continue in its present form; should any changes be made to its present structure?