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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 29 June 2018
Sponsor Registrar and Secretary to the Council
Responsible Officer Manager, Policy and Compliance
Review Date 29 June 2023

Purpose

To provide a consistent approach to the development, approval, implementation and review of University policy documents, so as to ensure that these:

  • meet the University’s administrative and compliance requirements
  • are practical and easy to understand and implement
  • are consistent with one another, and
  • are appropriately approved and reviewed.

Additional information for staff involved in initiating, drafting, reviewing and overseeing University policy is available in the Policy Drafting, Review and Approval Guidelines.

Organisational Scope

This policy applies to all University-level Policies, Procedures, Guidelines and Codes of Practice.

Definitions

Legislation Statutes enacted by the New Zealand Parliament and Statutory Regulations made pursuant to those Statutes, and enforced by law.
Statutes and Regulations High-level rules that cover the formal expectations and processes of the University concerning academic and other matters. Statutes and Regulations are established by the University Council under the authority of the Education Act and are legally binding.
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. Compliance is mandatory.
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 is mandatory.
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. Compliance is expected in normal circumstances and any departure from a Guideline needs to be justifiable.
Code of Practice A Code of Practice sets out minimum expectations and best practice. Compliance is mandatory.
Policy Documents For the purposes of this Framework, refers to Policies, Procedures, Guidelines or Codes of Practice.
Policy Library The University’s searchable, online policy repository, containing the current versions of approved policy documents.
Approval Body The relevant position or body that has authority to approve policy documents in accordance with the requirements of this Policy Framework.
Policy Management Group A group convened by the Registrar and Secretary to the Council that considers policy strategy and oversees policy development and review across the University.
Sponsor/s The senior staff member who advocates for a policy document and supports its development, approval and continuing existence. A Sponsor must be a member of the Vice-Chancellor’s Advisory Group or a Director in a Service Division.
Responsible Officer The staff member with responsibility for developing, seeking approval for, coordinating implementation of, and maintaining and reviewing a policy document. The Responsible Officer should not normally be the Sponsor.

Policy Content

1. Principles

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

(b) University-level policy documents should address matters which are of University-wide significance. Matters which have a more limited application or scope may be addressed through Divisional or departmental policy documents, approved by the head of the relevant area.

(c) The latest approved versions of all University policy documents will be stored in the Policy Library on the University website. Documents in the Policy Library shall be considered the authoritative source.

(d) Policy documents must:

i. have a Sponsor and a Responsible Officer

ii. be consistent with legislation, University Statutes and Regulations, and other University policy documents, and

iii. be clearly written and non-ambiguous, and presented in accordance with the formatting requirements specified in the Policy Drafting, Review and Approval Guidelines.

(e) Policy documents will be regularly reviewed (see clause 5).

(f) Policy documents should be developed and reviewed with an appropriate level of consultation and engagement with the University community.

2. Overview

The following summarises policy and related documents at the University. The shaded rows show University-level policy documents to which this Framework applies.

Types of University Policy Documents

Instrument Description Approval Body Compliance
Statutes The highest-level University rules established under section 194 of the Education Act Council Mandatory
Regulations High-level University rules about particular matters Council or delegated authority (Senate for academic regulations) Mandatory
Policies The University's official position on particular matters; policies normally require or exclude a certain line of action Council, Senate or the Vice-Chancellor Mandatory
Procedures Processes to achieve appropriate or best practice; Procedures may elaborate on, or give effect to, a Statute, Regulation or Policy Relevant Committees, Divisional Heads or the Vice-Chancellor Mandatory
Guidelines The University's current view of best practice; Guidelines may elaborate on, or give effect to, a Statute, Regulation or Policy Relevant Committees, Divisional Heads or the Vice-Chancellor Mandatory in normal circumstances; variations must be justifiable
Codes of Practice Minimum expectations and best practice in relation to a particular matter; may be based on external codes of practice Council, Senate or the Vice-Chancellor Mandatory
Divisional and departmental policy documents Documents addressing matters of relevance limited to some part of the University Divisional or departmental head Normally as for the equivalent University-level policy documents
Other strategic documents Plans, strategies, strategic frameworks, delegation schedules, etc. Various Various

3. Approval of policy documents

(a) All new or significantly amended policy documents must be endorsed by the Policy Management Group and the Sponsor prior to being sent for formal approval.

(b) All new or significantly amended policy documents must include an Implementation and Communication Plan.

(c) Policy documents should be approved by the appropriate Approval Body:

Approval Bodies

Subject matter Policies
Codes of Practice
Procedures
Guidelines
University governance Council Appropriate committee or Divisional head

(Academic procedures and guidelines will normally be approved by Senate; other procedures and guidelines may be referred to the Vice-Chancellor or Senate on the advice of the Policy Management Group)
Academic matters Senate
All other matters Vice-Chancellor

(through the Vice-Chancellor’s Advisory Group)

(d) A Responsible Officer may not approve any policy document that they are responsible for. Sponsors may not approve Policies or Codes of Practice that they sponsor, but may approve Procedures or Guidelines.

(e) When a policy document is approved, the provisions contained therein may take effect immediately, or may come into effect at a later date at the discretion of the Approval Body.

(f) Following approval the Responsible Officer shall action the Implementation and Communication Plan, and advise the Secretary of the Policy Management Group, who will coordinate the updating of the Policy Library (normally at the time when the policy document takes effect).

4. Amendment of policy documents

(a) Editorial amendments, which do not alter the meaning or intent of a policy document, may be approved by the Chair of the Policy Management Group or their delegate.

(b) Administrative amendments, which clearly follow from other authorised University changes or from changes to legislation or other binding external rules, may be approved by the Chair of the Policy Management Group or their delegate.

(c) Minor amendments, which do not significantly alter the effect, responsibility, meaning or intent of a policy document, may be approved by the Policy Management Group.

(d) Major amendments, which significantly alter the effect, responsibility, meaning or intent of a policy document, are subject to the full approval process as described in clause 3.

(e) The date of the last approved revision of a policy document will be recorded in the Policy Library, except where revisions are neither extensive nor substantive (e.g. editorial or administrative amendments). The Secretary of the Policy Management Group is responsible for managing an archive of previous policy document versions.

5. Review of policy documents

(a) Policy documents are to be reviewed two calendar years from the date they first take effect and every five years after that. However,

i. an alternative review cycle may be approved as part of the overall approval of a policy document

ii. where major amendments (or other significant revisions) are required outside of the standard timeframe, the Responsible Officer may elect to conduct a full-review at that time

iii. the Policy Management Group may approve deferral of a scheduled review at the request of the Responsible Officer, who must provide a case for the deferral and first gain the endorsement of the policy document’s Sponsor.

(b) The Responsible Officer is responsible for initiating and coordinating reviews, consulting relevant parties as appropriate, and considering:

i. whether the policy document is still required

ii. whether the policy document is achieving its intended purpose

iii. whether content is current, accurate and well understood

iv. whether the policy document could be improved.

(c) The outcome of the review shall be communicated to the Policy Management Group, who may approve or endorse recommended amendments as per clause 4.

(d) Where it is recommended that a policy document is no longer required, the Policy Management Group may:

i. approve the deletion where it is clear that a University-level policy document on the relevant matter is no longer required and that appropriate consultation has taken place

ii. reject the deletion of the policy document, or

iii. refer the matter to the Approval Body for a final decision.

Related Policies, Procedures and Forms

Contact for Further Information

If you have any queries regarding the content of this policy or need further clarification, please contact policy@otago.ac.nz