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Policy Framework

Category Administration and Management
Type Policy
Approved by Vice-Chancellor. 18 October 2010
Date Policy Took Effect 18 October 2010
Last Approved Revision 24 August 2012
Sponsor Chief Operating Officer; Registrar and Secretary to Council
Responsible Officer Manager, Policy and Compliance Academic Services
Review Date 18 October 2017

Purpose

To ensure a University-wide approach to the development, approval, implementation and review of Policies, Procedures, Guidelines and Codes of Practice at the University of Otago.

The aim is to ensure that the University has a set of Policies, Procedures, Guidelines and Codes of Practice which:

  • meet the University’s administrative and compliance needs;
  • are consistent and integrated with each other;
  • are practical and easy to implement;
  • are appropriately approved and reviewed.

Organisational Scope

This framework applies to all Policies, Procedures, Guidelines  and Codes of Practice of the University of Otago.

Definitions

Legislation: Statutes enacted by the New Zealand Parliament and Statutory Regulations made pursuant to those Statutes, and enforced by law.  Examples: Education Act 1989, Crown Entities Act 2004. 

Statutes and Regulations: University Statutes and Regulations are rules that cover the formal expectations of the University concerning academic and other general matters.  Statutes and Regulations are normally permanent in nature and reviewed as required.  They are established by the University Council under the authority of the Education Act and are legally binding.  Examples: Senate Statute 2011, Discipline Statute 2012. 

Policy:  A Policy sets out the University’s position on a specific matter and requires a certain line of action to be taken, although it does not necessarily detail that line of action.  Policies, except Human Resource (HR) Policies, are formally documented and approved by Council or under its delegated authority.  The Vice-Chancellor establishes HR Policies pursuant to his or her authority under the State Sector Act.  Compliance is mandatory.  Examples:  Research and Study Leave Policy, Purchasing Policy, Email Policy. 

Procedure: A Procedure sets out, often in a step-by-step manner, the way in which the University undertakes appropriate or best practice.  Procedures sometimes elaborate on, and give effect to, a Statute, Regulation or Policy.  Compliance with Procedures is required.  Procedures are approved variously by Committees or Divisional Heads.  Examples: Student Academic Grievance Procedures, Reimbursement Procedures. 

Guidelines:  Guidelines embody the University’s current view of appropriate or best practice.  They are not necessarily set out in a step-by-step fashion, though they are sometimes associated with, and give effect to a Statute or Policy.  It is expected that they will be complied with, and any departure from the Guidelines will need to be explained or justified.  Guidelines are approved variously by Committees or Divisional Heads.  Examples:  Adverse Weather Conditions Guidelines, Recording of Lectures Guidelines. 

Code of Practice: A Code of Practice sets out minimum expectations and best practice.  Codes may be established internally, or may have an external source such as government legislation or adoption by a relevant professional body with the power to regulate.  Internal Codes of Practice would normally be approved by Senate and Council.  Relevant external Codes are established by an external regulatory body or by government.  Compliance with all Codes of Practice is mandatory.  Examples: Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students, Code of Conduct for Responsible Practice in Research. 

Approval Pathways: See Clause 3. 

Approving Body: The relevant body that has authority to approve Policies, Procedures and Guidelines in accordance with the requirements of this Policy Framework, e.g. Senate, Council, the Vice Chancellor. 

Policy Management Group: A group convened by the Registrar and Secretary to Council that has responsibility for overseeing the Policy Framework, including guidance on best practice and the development of forms and procedures.

Sponsor/s: A person who will present the Policy to the appropriate Approving Body.  A Policy Sponsor must be a member of the Vice-Chancellor’s Advisory Group or a Director in a Service Division. 

Responsible Officer: This is the senior person in whose portfolio of responsibilities the Policy matter most clearly resides.  He/she has overarching responsibility for developing the Policy and related Procedure/s and for ensuring the Policy and Procedure/s is/are approved, implemented and reviewed as required under this Policy Framework (The specific responsibilities are listed in full in Appendix A).

Policy Content

1 Principles

(a) Policies govern University practice and support the achievement of the University’s mission and objectives. Policies also support the achievement of quality outcomes and reduce institutional risk.

(b) University Policies should be relevant, transparent in their intention and meaning, and developed in consultation with the University community and other key stakeholders. They should comply with the requirements set out in this Policy Framework.

(c) This Policy Framework covers the University’s processes for the drafting, approval, implementation and review of Policies, Procedures, Guidelines and Codes of Practice which are of University-wide significance.

(d) Matters which have a more limited application or scope (i.e. matters that apply only to a particular division, department, organisational area, management unit or to members of the University dealing with a particular area) require formulation and approval by the head of that area.

(e) The latest approved version of all University Policies, Procedures, Guidelines and Codes of Practice will be stored in the Policy Database on the University web site.

(f) Documents in the Policy Database will be considered the authoritative source. Individual organisational unit websites will always link to this source.

2 Policy Development

For an overview of the development process, go to the Checklist for Developing Policies, Procedures and Guidelines.

(a) Drafting

(i) University Policies, Procedures, Guidelines and Codes of Practice should be consistent with any relevant legislation, and any other Policies, Procedures, Guidelines and Codes of Practice dealing with similar or related subject matter.

(ii) Responsible Officers will use the Policy Development Template to ensure consistency in documentation. They should also use version control to help with tracking progress.

(iii) Policies, Procedures, Guidelines and Codes of Practice should be drafted in plain English, concise, consistent and appropriate for their audience.

(iv) Policies should be:
i. Developed in accordance with the Policy Framework;
ii. Sponsored by a member of the Vice-Chancellor’s Advisory Group or a Director in a Service Division; and
iii. Approved by the appropriate Approving Body as outlined in Clause 3.

(v) Procedures, Guidelines and Codes of Practice should be:
i. Developed in accordance with the Policy Framework;
ii. Consistent with the Policies to which they refer;
iii. Reviewed and approved by the Policy Sponsor;
iv. Approved by the appropriate Approving Body as outlined in Clause 3.

(b) Consultation

(i) Responsible Officers should ensure appropriate consultation occurs to give consideration to the views of stakeholders likely to be affected by, or to have an interest in, the Policy.

(ii) If feedback leads to significant changes to the Policy, a second period of consultation should be considered.

(iii) Once the appropriate consultation has taken place, the Responsible Officer should submit the final Policy to the Policy Management Group for approval by the relevant Approving Body.

(c) Communication and Implementation

(i) All Policy must include an implementation plan and communication strategy that sets out how the Policy will be disseminated within the University.

(ii) Communication is best achieved through a variety of channels, including via staff meetings, e-mail and Staff Bulletin notices. It is often necessary to use a variety of channels, because staff may not always be accessible via certain channels.

(iii) The Policy Management Group must be consulted as part of the consultation process.

3 Approval Pathways

(a) Governance Policies shall be approved by the University Council.

(b) Academic Policies shall be approved by the Senate, which is responsible for all Policies relating to teaching, learning and research. Policies approved by the Senate are forwarded to Council for endorsement.

(c) All Operational / HR / Other Policies shall be approved by the Vice-Chancellor (through the Vice-Chancellor’s Advisory Group).

(d) All Procedures, Guidelines and Codes of Practice shall be approved by the relevant Committee or Divisional Head (or delegated officer).

(e) All newly approved Policies will be referred back to the Responsible Officer who shall then proceed with communicating and implementing the Policy.

4 Review

(a) Approved University Policies, Procedures, Guidelines and Codes of Practice should be reviewed two calendar years from the date they take effect and every five years after that.

(b) Reviews will be completed by the Responsible Officer. The purpose of the review is to ensure that information is current and accurate, and that the Policy, Procedure, Guidelines or Code of Practice is widely understood and achieving its intended purpose.

(c) Policies, Procedures, Guidelines and Codes of Practice that have not been reviewed within five years of the last review date may be considered for removal by the Policy Management Group.

(d) In some circumstances, such as a legislative change, the review will need to occur prior to the review date.

(e) The review date and the Responsible Officer should be included in the Policy Database on the University website.

5 Amendments to Policies

(a) During the life of a policy, or as a result of a Review, amendments may need to be made to a Policy.

(b) Minor Amendments

(i) A minor amendment to a policy or procedure is a change to a current policy or procedure that is not substantive and that does not alter the effect, responsibility, meaning or intent of all or any part of the policy or procedure. Examples of minor amendments include a position or title change; updating links; or adding new or amending existing supporting documents.

(ii) Minor amendments to policies and procedures can occur outside the policy review cycle.

(iii) Minor amendments can be done by the Responsible Officer.

(c) Major Amendments

(i) A major amendment to a policy or procedure is a change to a current policy or procedure that is likely to affect or alter the effect, responsibility, meaning or intent of all or any part of the policy, procedure or related policies, stakeholders, aligned procedures or systems.

(ii) Major amendments should follow the procedures outlined in Clause 2 above.

(iii) The University community must be advised of the amended policy or procedure through the appropriate communication channels, as described in the Implementation Process in the Template.

6 Records Management

(a) The latest approved version of all Policies, Procedures, Guidelines and Codes of Practice will be stored on a centrally controlled policy database accessible through the University of Otago website.

(b) Previous versions will be stored in the appropriate Records Management system.

(c) Those on the Policy Database will be considered the authoritative source. Individual organisational unit websites will always link to this source.

(d) Responsible Officers should maintain a record of issues related to Policies, Procedures, Guidelines and Codes of Practice for consideration during subsequent reviews.

7 Responsibility

The Policy Management Group is responsible for ensuring the effective implementation of this Policy.

Appendix A: Responsible Officer - Responsibilities

  • Ensures that all Policies/Procedures/Guidelines developed in their area of responsibility meet the requirements of the University of Otago Policy Framework (the Framework).
  • Ensures that appropriate consultation has taken place before seeking formal approval for any new Policies/Procedures/Guidelines/Codes of Practice.
  • Ensures that a record of issues relating to Policies/Procedures/Guidelines/Codes of Practice in their area is maintained, to be used to inform subsequent policy reviews.
  • Conducts Policy reviews as required by the Framework to ensure that these Policies/Procedures/Guidelines/Codes of Practice in their area are accurate, widely understood and achieving their intended purpose.
  • Ensures policy content that needs revision is edited and re-posted in the Policy Database. The Responsible Officer may choose to undertake training to edit Policy/Procedure/Guideline/Code of Practice content themselves, or delegate responsibility for editing content to a suitably trained administrative staff member.
  • Maintains oversight of all Policies/Procedures/Guidelines/Codes of Practice within their portfolio of responsibilities that are published in the Policy Database.
  • Acts as a source of information on the Policies/Procedures/Guidelines/Codes of Practice in their area.

Related Policies, Procedures and Forms

Forms

Contact for Further Information

For further information, contact Chris Stoddart on chris.stoddart@otago.ac.nz