Enhanced Planning: Making Choices
In a post-secondary environment where enhancing the quality of academic programs is critical, it is more important than ever to align the university's resources with its priorities. A working group has been struck to research and recommend enhanced planning tools that will support UVic decision-makers in academic and service units in reaching that goal. This initiative is led by Acting VP Academic and Provost Valerie Kuenhe.
Chaired by Associate Vice-President Academic Planning Katy Mateer, and now in her absence by Fine Arts Dean Sarah Blackstone, the Working Group for Enhanced Planning Tools is tasked with recommending criteria and an institutional data set that will assist administrators in their annual planning processes.
"During the president's Campus Conversations process in fall 2013, faculty and staff expressed a desire for a more transparent, data-driven process to provide them with the tools to facilitate planning and better align resources with university priorities," said Mateer.
The working group receives advice and direction from an advisory committee, comprising members of the Senate committees on university planning and budget, plus faculty, student and staff representatives. The advisory committee provides feedback on potential criteria and the associated information that would need to be collected from the enhanced planning process, as well as on communications and consultation activities to ensure a transparent process.
What we're working on now
Fine Arts Dean Sarah Blackstone, acting chair of the Working Group for Enhanced Planning Tools presented the criteria at the June 25 Community Update meeting. Each criterion will have associated measures that will apply to teaching, research and service/support. The working group is now drafting these measures.
Detailed information on measures for each of the seven criteria will be presented to the university community for feedback and comment during the fall term.
- Context: Provide qualitative information that outlines focused context and program background
- Quality: Assess quality of a unit’s programs and services, inputs and outcomes
- Demand: Assess internal and external demand for programs/services offered by the unit
- Productivity and efficiency: Measure the quantity of inputs and outcomes (for example, number of courses or services offered, number of students served, number of faculty/staff)
- Financial considerations: Determine the unit’s overall financial impact on university resources
- Impact and essentiality: Measure impact of programs/services offered by the unit (for example social, environmental, scientific) and their essentiality or relevance to the university and its strategic mandate
- Opportunity analysis: Evaluate program potential and opportunities, such as program improvements, collaboration with other programs, institutions and the community
The working group's activities represent phase one of Enhanced Planning: Making Choices, an institutional planning that will help academic and administrative units ensure their resource allocations strongly align with university priorities. The working group is supported by an advisory committee that includes members of the Senate committees on university planning and budget, in addition to faculty, student and staff representatives.
While UVic is not employing the program ranking, criteria weighting and prioritization process advocated by Dr. Robert Dickeson, the university is creating a straight-forward, user-friendly approach and easily-accessible tools that units can employ within their existing planning processes.
"The long-term goal of these planning processes is to ensure UVic can maintain the quality of its programs and services—in education, research and community engagement—in our current financially constrained environment," said Mateer.
"We want to develop a set of enhanced tools to allow decision-makers to assess the quality, resource requirements and contribution of programs and activities in support of the university's institutional priorities. The criteria and data need to be reliable, valid and evidence-based, so they can be consistently applied across campus."
In early June 2014, the working group's recommendations were presented to the Integrated Planning Committee. The working group is now targeting its recommendations so that the criteria can be available for use by university units in early 2015.
The Enhanced Planning: Making Choices process will continue at the faculty and unit levels once the working group has finished its work. Deans, managers and VPs will use the criteria and data recommended by the working group to make planning choices within each department and portfolio.
As of early June, possible criteria that could apply to all areas of university operations—teaching, research and service/support—have been identified by the working group and reviewed by the advisory committee. The goal is to establish criteria that draw as much as possible on the information already being either collected centrally or reported by departments/units so as to not add significantly to the existing workload in units.
By the end of June 2014, the criteria will have been reviewed by the Integrated Planning Committee, Deans' Council and VP management teams. The review will include the proposed unit of measure, high-level criteria, a draft of the 'quality' criterion and the communications plan.