Approval and Cyclical Review of Programs and Other Curriculum, Policy on

Legislative History: May be cited as the “York University Quality Assurance Policy.” Approved by Senate: 2010/10/28

Approval Authority: Senate

Signature: Harriet Lewis


Description: This policy has associated procedures.


1. Context and Purposes

1.1 Quality Assurance at York University

In 2010 the Council of Ontario Universities [COU] approved protocols for the approval of new programs and other curriculum, and the cyclical review of programs. These protocols are overseen at the provincial level by a Quality Council established by COU. It is the policy of York University to comply in full with these protocols. The Quality Council has the authority to approve or decline all new program proposals. Major modifications and program closures are reported annually to the Quality Council.

1.2 Objectives and Commitments

The application of this policy and adherence to its associated procedures affirms York’s commitment to academic excellence and to quality assurance (including degree level expectations) through Senate and its committees, Faculty Councils and Faculties, units, and the University as a whole.

1.3 Scope and Application

Adopting COU’s protocols, this policy applies to:

  • the approval of new programs (encompassing new undergraduate degrees, undergraduate specialization and majors – for which a similar specialization/major is not already approved- and graduate degrees);
  • the expedited approval of programs (encompassing new credit undergraduate certificates and diplomas, collaborative programs, and new fields to existing graduate degrees);
  • the major modification of programs (encompassing substantive changes made to existing and previously approved programs, but where learning outcomes are not changed in ways that denote a new program);
  • the closure of programs (which may result from low enrolment, a changing disciplinary landscape, poor quality and the like, whether articulated in cyclical reviews or determined solely by the institution); and
  • the cyclical review of existing undergraduate and graduate programs, including graduate diplomas and collaborative programs.

1.4 Programs with Other Postsecondary Institutions

This policy shall apply to new and continuing undergraduate and graduate degree and diploma programs whether offered in full or in part by York University, or conjointly with any institutions federated or affiliated with the University. These responsibilities also extend to programs offered in partnership, collaboration or other such arrangement with other postsecondary institutions including colleges, universities, and institutes.

1.5 Institutional Responsibilities

The primary responsibility for the design and quality assurance of new programs lies with York University and its governing bodies. The University is responsible for curriculum design, the development of program objectives, the determination of learning outcomes, and generally for the assembly of human, instructional and physical resources needed.

1.6 Collegial Governance

Prior to submission to the Quality Council, proposals for new programs as defined by the protocols shall be approved in accordance with the York University Act and with procedures required by Senate. Cyclical reviews shall be conducted in accordance with internally-defined procedures that comply with the Quality Council’s protocols.

2. University Authorities

2.1 Quality Council Liaison and Reporting

The Vice-President Academic and Provost is responsible for the oversight of the YUQAP including the administration and reporting functions associated with the YUQAP. Within the Office of the Vice-President Academic and Provost, the Vice Provost Academic is the contact between the institution and the Quality Council.

2.2 Institutional Quality Assurance Process Authority

2.2.1 Senate Authority and Relationship to Faculty Councils

All proposals for the establishment of new graduate and undergraduate degree programs, diplomas and certificates, or for new fields, degrees, majors, options, streams or areas of concentration within existing programs – whether offered solely by the University or in cooperation with other institutions — require the approval of Senate. Similarly, all major revisions, restructuring, or closure of graduate and undergraduate degree programs, diplomas and certificates require the approval of Senate. Normally only proposals that have been approved by the applicable Faculty Council(s) shall be considered by Senate and its committees.

2.2.2 Authority for Institutional Quality Assurance Policy

Authority for Institutional Quality Assurance Policy is vested with the joint Sub-Committee established by Senate’s Academic Policy, Planning and Research Committee and the Academic Standards, Curriculum and Pedagogy Committee.

2.2.3 Role of the Joint Sub-Committee

On behalf of Senate, the Joint Sub-Committee shall ensure compliance with the Quality Council’s protocols, respond to audit reports conducted by the Quality Council proposing changes as may be needed, and oversee the cyclical review of programs.

2.2.4 Composition of the Joint Sub-Committee

The joint Sub-Committee is composed of the following members:

  • two members of the Academic Policy, Planning and Research Committee
  • two members of the Academic Standards, Curriculum and Pedagogy Committee
  • the Associate Vice-President Academic and Vice-Provost Academic
  • the Associate Vice-President Graduate and Dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies

2.2.5 Eligibility for Membership on the Joint Sub-Committee

At least one member from each of the parent committees shall hold an appointment in the Faculty of Graduate Studies.

2.3 Administration of Processes

The Office of the Vice- President Academic and Provost is responsible for

  • the publication of documents as required by the COU protocols and maintenance of a Website for the purpose
  • ensuring compliance with protocols before documentation is transmitted to the Quality Council
  • overseeing the cyclical review process
  • establishing a rota of reviews, which shall be submitted annually to the Joint Sub-Committee
  • advising proponents and facilitating processes covered by this policy

3. Approval of New Curriculum Proposals

3.1 Early Notice of Intentions

Prior to the development, review and approval at any stage of a proposal that is subject to the Institutional Quality Assurance Process, proponents shall notify the Dean(s) / Principal of the respective Faculties/Schools of their intentions. The Deans shall notify the University Secretariat and the Office of the Vice-President Academic and Provost. The purpose of this required step is to facilitate consultations among interested parties at the earliest opportunity and make possible preliminary assessments of academic resource requirements and consistency with academic plans. Authorization to proceed at this stage does not constitute formal support.

3.2 Exceptions to Early Notice Requirements

Major modifications of programs shall not require early notice. Minor changes in curriculum and academic standards (such as the establishment of new courses, changes in course rubrics, and the like) shall not require early notice.

3.3 External Review of Proposals

The review and approval of new curriculum proposals shall include external review. Normally reviews shall be conducted following approval by the Faculty Council Curriculum Committee and prior to consideration by the Council(s).

3.4 Form and Content of Proposals

Proposals shall conform to the requirements of Program Briefs as defined by the COU protocols, but may include any and all such requirements as may be established or amended in the procedures associated with this policy.

3.5 Affirmation of Institutional Commitment to Quality

No curriculum proposal shall be reported to the Quality Council without an institutional commitment from the relevant Faculty (normally through the anchor Dean(s) / Principal) and the University (through the Vice-President Academic and Provost).

3.6 Recommendations to Senate

3.6.1 New Degree Programs / Closure of Programs

The establishment and closure of new degree programs shall be recommended by the Committee on Academic Standards, Curriculum and Pedagogy with the concurrence of the Academic Policy, Planning and Research Committee.

3.6.2 Proposals Under Expedited Approval / Major Modifications

Proposals dealt with under expedited approval and major modifications shall be recommended to Senate by the Committee on Academic Standards, Curriculum and Pedagogy.

3.6.3 Other Curriculum-Related Proposals

Unless otherwise specified, the Committee on Academic Standards, Curriculum and Pedagogy recommends Senate approval or informs Senate of decisions taken on other proposals relating to curriculum and academic standards which are not covered by the Quality Assurance protocols.

4. Cyclical Reviews

4.1 Responsibilities

The University is responsible for, shall undertake, and shall report the findings of cyclical reviews for all undergraduate degree and certificate programs and for all graduate degree and diploma programs. Reviews shall be submitted to the Quality Council, and summary reports shall be transmitted to the Senate and the Board of Governors by the Vice-Provost Academic in consultation with the Joint Sub-Committee.

4.2 Frequency and Structure of Reviews

Reviews shall be conducted on a cycle of no more than eight years. To the extent possible, related undergraduate and graduate programs shall be reviewed together, and cognate units shall be reviewed together. The Vice-Provost Academic shall be responsible for establishing a rota of reviews, which shall be submitted annually to the Joint Sub-Committee.

4.3 Elements of Reviews

At a minimum, reviews shall have the following elements

  • self-study
  • external evaluation (peer review) with report and recommendations on program quality improvement
  • institutional evaluation of the self-study and the external assessment report resulting in recommendations for program quality improvement
  • preparation and adoption of plans to implement the recommendations and to monitor their implementation
  • follow-up reporting on the principal findings of the review and the implementation of the recommendations

4.4 Administrative Oversight

The Office of the Vice-Provost Academic is responsible for ensuring that cyclical reviews of academic programs and/or units are undertaken in accordance with all applicable protocols and policies.

4.5 Responsibility for Reporting Reviews

It shall be the responsibility of the anchor Deans / Principal to prepare a draft of the Final Assessment Report and Implementation Plan for submission to the Joint Sub-Committee.

4.6 Senate Oversight

Cyclical review documentation shall be received and reviewed by the Joint Sub-Committee. The Final Assessment Report and Implementation shall be transmitted to the Academic Standards, Curriculum and Pedagogy Committee and to the Academic Policy, Planning and Research Committee prior to transmittal to Senate. The Joint Sub-Committee may convene meetings to review implementation plans, and shall monitor the timely implementation of improvements.

4.7 Role of the Board of Governors

A summary of outcomes shall be provided to the Academic Resources Committee of the Board of Governors and then to the Board.

4.8 Quality Council

The summary of outcomes shall be communicated to the Quality Council and posted on the University’s Website.

5. Quality Council Audit of Processes

5.1 Ratification and Audit of Processes

The Quality Council ratifies each institution’s Quality Assurance Process. It also is responsible for conducting an Audit Process of University processes through a panel of auditors that reports to a committee of the Council. The panel examines each institution’s compliance with its own Quality Assurance Process. The Quality Council approves and monitors the audit reports.

6. York University Quality Assurance Manual

6.1 Contents and Use

A Quality Assurance Manual [i.e., the procedures allied to this policy] shall detail requirements and processes giving effect to the protocols. In addition to the protocols associated with YUQAP, the manual:

a) provides guidance on the conduct of rigorous, objective and searching self-studies, and describes the potential benefits that can accrue from them;

b) includes best practices and establishes criteria for administrative processes such the selection of reviewers and scheduling of site visits;

c) identifies responsibilities for the collection, aggregation and distribution of standardized data and outcome measures required for self-studies;

d) specifies the format required for new program proposals, proposals for major modifications, self-studies and external review reports;

e) sets out the University’s cycle for the conduct of undergraduate degree and certificate programs and graduate degree and diploma program reviews; and

f) provides contact information for support and assistance.

6.2 Other Matters Contained in the Manual

The Manual shall define and describe the review and approval process for other matters related to curriculum and academic standards, such as new courses or course rubrics.