P6: Academic Governance Reform

Priority 6: Reform academic governance such that innovation is enabled, coherence is restored and risk is reduced

Priority 6: Reform academic governance such that innovation is enabled, coherence is restored and risk is reduced

A recurring theme that emerged during the planning and consultation phase of the Academic Strategy development was the lack of clarity on where the right of initiative lies with regard to academic policy at UCC. The rapid expansion and pace of change in the structures and systems of the University in recent decades resulted in some disconnections and inefficiencies in our processes and procedures. Some of these were highlighted in UCC’s Institutional Review (2013). The University needs to provide the appropriate guidance, policies and frameworks to enable academic innovation, while reducing the levels of risk therein. The objective of this priority is to ensure that the University provides clarity and coherence on academic policies and regulations, that work optimally, and that are observed consistently.


Review and reform academic decision-making authority.

This aims to ensure appropriate academic governance; clarify roles and responsibilities; and streamline procedures. A review of Academic Decision Making Authority was undertaken and consultation was carried out with CACSSS (via College Council and CEMC), Business and Law (via CEMC) and SEFS (via College Council) as well as Medicine and health (CEMC). Additional consultation was carried out with Academic Council and an online consultation form was distributed to all staff. A provisional programme level governance model has been designed and a pilot is being rolled out for S2 2020 (currently postponed due to Covid linked limitations). Six programmes have been selected for the pilot, with representation from all colleges and ACE, both undergraduate and postgraduate. The pilot will run for one academic year and is linked to parallel initiatives being undertaken as part of the roll out of the new CMS, the review of external examiner procedures, student feedback processes and QQI reporting.

  • Decision making pathways created for CMS and governance framework created for programme coordinators.

  • Programme level decision making pathways in creation for CMS.

  • Programme level governance framework created.

  • Proposal brought to AB in October – awaiting feedback from the colleges. (framework, TOF, templates)

  • Pilot underway (5 x programmes).

  • Data requirements proposal created and sent for review.


Review and enhance Programme Approval Processes.

This action will influence the University’s overall framework for assuring the quality of programmes and integrate with statutory periodic academic review by: Enhancing the programme approval process from concept to classroom; Connecting to the redesign of the periodic academic review model; Informing the requirements of the Curriculum Management System. Phase 1 has been completed, which included a desk based comparison against external institutions, stakeholder consultation and benchmarking site visits.  In June 2019 Academic Board considered the report and endorsed recommendations to be implemented. Phase 2 is now underway to scope and develop an implementation plan to implement the recommendations in a phased manner through the other actions of the Academic Strategy. This will include pilot initiatives, monitoring and analysing feedback; pilot approaches to programme review; Embedding in Quality Reviews; and development of a University Framework for Programme Approval, Annual Monitoring and Programmatic Review.

  • Ongoing, integrated with CMS work


Redesign and optimise the Exam Appeals and Mitigation processes.

This will deliver a new contained process and system that captures the needs of students and staff engaged in exam appeals and mitigation. This involves a review of the process and method of dealing with appeals and mitigation as well as the development of an IT solution to house the process that will emerge. The new online appeals and mitigation systems have undergone testing and are now live.


Undertake a review of semesterisation and address any challenges identified. [Completed]

A review has been completed of semesterisation which took place in UCC in 2014/15. This has been completed with the four Colleges, central services and ACE. The report, which includes suggestions for the future development of the semesterised teaching periods, will be submitted to Academic Board in September 2020.


Create a register of programmes subject to accreditation to facilitate oversight of associated criteria. [Completed]

A database of programmes subject to accreditation has been created which documents the programmes within the University that are subject to professional or statutory body accreditation. Importantly, this database differentiates between the type of accreditation (recognition, progression, statutory and professional) as well as the consequences  of failing to uphold the accreditation requirements (unable to practice, unable to register with professional bodies, eligible for membership, exempt from or entitled to proceed to professional exams, enables membership of a regulated profession). This register of programmes is formally presented to Colleges on a quarterly basis. The next steps involve the development of an IT solution for hosting the database and improving the taxonomy of accreditation types.


Capture and regulate non-standard academic arrangements.

This will document existing instances of non-standard academic arrangement within the University and with University partners and identify a means of standardising these arrangements in line with university best practice.

  • Working group created with ADSC to review, capture and represent information around collaborations and partnerships, including definitions, UCC role, reporting requirements.

  • Work being carried out as part of another ADSC subgroup looking at non-standard modules (sub-programme).


Develop a policy for the withdrawal of academic awards. [Completed]

A policy for the withdrawal of academic awards has been developed. An amendment to the Principal Statute provides a formal mechanism for the processing of a request for the withdrawal of an award within the University and its transmission through Governing Body to the Senate of the National University of Ireland. This was approved by Academic Council in June 2019 and adopted by the Governing Body in October 2019.


Develop an online Academic Policy Portal. [Completed]

A thematically organised repository for academic university policies has been created and can be found at www.ucc.ie/en/academicgov/policies meaning that students and staff now have access to all up-to-date academic policies in one location. Guidance for academic policy writers has also been developed which will ensure uniformity in the development of new policies within UCC as well as a standardised nomenclature.


Lead sponsor: Dr Orla Lynch Associate Dean Graduate Studies CACSSS

Administrative Lead: Paul O’Donovan, Academic Secretary & Assistant Registrar

Team Members:

  • John Mc Nulty, Director of Academic Services (Action 30)
  • Eleanor Fouhy, Head of Academic Programmes and Regulations (Action 29)
  • Elizabeth Noonan, Director of Quality Enhancement Unit (Action 29)
  • Tom Murphy (Action 30)
  • Jacqui Churcher, Office of the Vice-President for Learning and Teaching (Action 30)
  • Daniel Blackshields, Examinations Appeals Officer (Action 30)
  • Mary O Rourke, Office of the Vice-President for Learning and Teaching (Action 30)
  • Yvonne Creedon, Student Records and Examinations Office (Action 30)
  • Anna Glavin, Student Records and Examinations Office (Action 30)
  • Sarah Field, Policy Support Officer (Action 35)
  • Aoife Ni Neill, Head of Academic Secretariat (Action 35)

Leas-Uachtarán agus Cláraitheoir/ Deputy President & Registrar

First Floor, West Wing, Main Quadrangle, UCC, T12 YN60