Policy Reform Project

Project: Reforming UNE Policies

Please see background information below - or you can view a PDF version here.

Why are we pursing a policy reform agenda?

You have told us, via the Voice Surveys, Academic Board and Committee discussions that:

  • UNE has too many policies and policy instruments
  • Some of our policies are out of date or not aligned to desired business process
  • Some processes are not efficient nor well-designed
  • We don’t always check if policies and procedures are working
  • Some policies don’t make clear how work is to be done or who is responsible for what
  • Responses regarding how feedback on policy changes is used isn’t always provided
  • Other issues? Please email Gabrielle Price and Caitlin Rowe at policies@une.edu.au.

We have looked at our policy suite and observed that:

  • UNE currently has
    100 x Rules
    70 x Policies
    110 x Procedures
    60 x Guidelines
    Operational manuals
    Fact sheets, approval pathways and other subsidiary documents
  • UNE’s policies are framed in a deep hierarchy of policies (Rules, Policies, Procedures, Guidelines etc) which is not atypical in the sector, but can be complex to navigate
  • UNE’s policies are not currently well categorised or grouped (a proposal to rationalise policies into 10 to 12 categories put forward in 2017 has not yet been implemented)
  • Roles and expectations in policy development and review need to be clearer and better supported
  • UNE would benefit from a reform of its policies, including a more simplified policy framework (less tiers), and evidenced-based, business-process-aligned policy design.
How will Policy Reform help?

Good policies help support organisational quality.

Policies provide direction for staff, students and other stakeholders, as to the way the University wants to operate, so as to meet its purpose, live its values, achieve its goals and meet stakeholder expectations including complying with laws and regulations.

When policy is informed and shaped by those persons who interact with the policy on a regular basis, it is a culture-building quality assurance tool supporting consistency in standard practice, and making clear roles, responsibilities, expectations and principles.

We want to move from:

  • Too many policies to fewer clear and concise policies
  • A Policy framework with too many layers to a simpler policy hierarchy
  • Lots of individual policies to policies grouped into approximately 10 categories
  • Unclear policy roles to a supported policy review process and clarity of roles
  • Being unclear on business process to being aligned with process and support change
  • Lack of feedback on policy impact to planning for quality assurance and feedback regarding impact as part of policy design.
What steps are we taking?

We will

  1. Propose options to simplify our Policy hierarchy and structure and ask for your thoughts
  2. Discuss with current policy administrators how we might group our policies – and then seek the feedback of key stakeholders.
  3. Based on responses (to steps 1 and 2) draft and circulate an example “Policy Group” for feedback. Make sure our policies align to business processes and can be reviewed to see if they are working
  4. Look at improving how our policies are displayed on the website by conducting user testing and focus groups.

In the next few slides we focus on step 1 and outline three options for a policy hierarchy and structure and ask for your feedback.

Our current Policy Hierarchy

Our current policy hierarchy has six levels and all up we have over 320 policy instruments (not counting manuals and associated documents):

  • Level 1: Legislation and Standards/Codes/Agreements
  • Level 2: Rules and Policies (we currently have 100 separate Rules and a further 70 Policies)
  • Level 3: Procedures (we currently have 110 procedures supporting a rule or policy)
  • Level 4: Guidelines (we currently have 60 guidelines)
  • Level 5: Operation Manuals (not all available via the website)
  • Level 6: Associated Documents, fact sheets etc.
We are looking for feedback on three new Policy Hierarchy options
Option 1, has 5 levels, with principles and rules based policy approach.

In this option, the policy design describes principles, supported by a rules-based approach (i.e. “these are our principles, these are the rules and procedures to follow when performing this function, further support via guidelines and operational manual as required”). We would expect that the number of policies post implementation would be between 100 to 230 (down from 320). Charles Darwin University has a similar governance framework.

The levels are:

  • Level 1: Legislation / Standards / Agreements as authority
  • Level 2: A Policy for each of approx.10 policy areas (e.g. governance, students, facilities etc.) which interpret standards in UNE context
  • Level 3: Procedures (allow for 3-10 per Policy) to provide steps required to apply part of the Policy
  • Level 4: Guidelines (allow for 1 per procedure) to provide specific practical guidance for implementing part of a procedure.
  • Level 5: Operational Manuals (allow 1 to 2 per Policy) expose operational model/system design and/or provide detail process instructions to support implementation of complex functions.
Option 2 has four levels with an education or support based approach

In this option, a mostly education or support-based approach is taken to policy design (i.e. “this is why we have this handbook, this is how these functions work and what you need to understand and consider when doing this function, there are related guidelines and operation manuals if you need more support”). We would expect that the number of policies post implementation would be between 70 to 130 (down from 320). The Australian National University's Governance Handbook is an example of this approach.

  • Level 1: Legislation / Standards / Agreements as authority
  • Level 2: A Handbook for each of approx. 10 focus areas (e.g. governance, students, facilities etc.) which describe how things work and key roles and functions relevant to this policy group.
  • Level 3: Guidelines (allow for 5 to 10 per Handbook) to support implementation of sections of the handbook.
  • Level 4: Operational Manuals (1 to 2 per Handbook) expose operational model/system design and/or provide detail process instructions to support implementation of complex functions.
Option 3 has four levels with a principles led policy approach

In this option a principles-led approach is taken to policy design (i.e. “these are our principles and how we expect the organisation and officers to act when undertaking these functions, further guidance on how to do this is provided in accompanying notes and detailed instructions found in operational manuals, as required”). We would expect that the number of policies post implementation would be between 70 to 130 (down from 320). UNE's Code for Research Conduct is an example of a principles led policy.

  • Level 1: Legislation / Standards / Agreements as authority
  • Level 2: A Code or Charter for each of approx. 10 focus areas* (e.g. governance, students, facilities etc.) outlining overarching principles for each specific function and expectations for behaviours and roles
  • Level 3: Guidance notes (allow 5-10 per Code/Charter) provide more detail about how to meet expectations and principles when performing a function.
  • Level 4: Operational Manuals (allow 1 to 2 per Code) expose operational model/system design and/or provide detail process instructions to support implementation of complex functions.
How can you help?

We would appreciate your feedback on new policy framework options, via a short 5-10 minute survey by 10 October, 2019.

We will let you know the outcome and will make a recommendation to SET, Academic Board and Council re the preferred approach.

For more information please contact Gabrielle Price or Caitlin Rowe via: policies@une.edu.au