Governance

University policy library - frequently asked questions

Information Sheets

A range of information sheets are available to assist with the University Policy Library.

Contact

Staff are encouraged to contact the nominated ‘Contact Position’ detailed at the bottom of each individual University Policy where policy-specific information is required. 

For general academic policy related queries, contact the Academic Secretary.

The following FAQ’s have been developed to provide further information on the University’s Policy Library; covering policy, procedures, process and good practice guides.

Policy, procedure, process and ‘good practice guides’   Explains the difference between policy, procedure, process and ‘good practice guides’

What is a ‘policy’?

A policy is a mandatory and institution-wide position statement of the University, establishing key principles and provisions to enable decision-making. Policy exists within a range of University management areas and is binding on all staff and students.

What is a ‘procedure’?

A procedure that is linked to a policy is a mandatory statement or graphical depiction, outlining how a policy is implemented at the University level. A procedure:
  • identifies the body/sections or responsible officer(s) who are to act;
  • states when the actions occur;
  • reflects the sequence of events; and
  • applies University-wide.

What is a ‘process’?

A process, which is developed, documented and owned locally, relates to the use of efficient methods (supported by technology where possible) to operationalise University procedures. It details activities including control activities required to add value and/or produce an outcome. Locally developed processes should be documented to ensure consistency, especially for new staff.

What is a ‘good practice guide’?

A guide is an advisory statement offering recommendations for good practice. They serve only as a guide to follow and therefore, are encouraged but not mandated. It should be noted that the term ‘guidelines’ is no longer used in UWA within the context of policy due to its ambiguity with regard to its meaning. Historically, a guideline has been interpreted as both a guide (not mandated) and a policy (mandated), hence the preferred terminology of a ‘good practice guide’.

A Policy, Procedure, Process and ‘Good Practice Guide’: What distinguishes them?

A key feature that distinguishes a policy and a ‘good practice guide’ is the mandatory nature of the former. While a policy is binding on all staff and students of the University a ‘good practice guide’, which offers acceptable courses of action, is encouraged. It should also be noted that the term ‘guidelines’ is no longer used in UWA within the context of policy due to its ambiguity with regard to its meaning. Historically, a guideline has been interpreted as both a guide (not mandated) and a policy (mandated).

A policy is normally accompanied by a set of procedures which is also binding on staff and students of the University. However, a key feature that distinguishes a policy from a procedure is the functional role they play. A policy commonly describes the ‘what’ and the procedure articulates the ‘how’. A procedure is the broad operational process required to implement the University policy.

Procedures apply University-wide whereas processes, which support the implementation of procedures, are locally driven. While a University procedure may change from time to time to reflect contemporary practices and technology, local processes designed to implement the procedure may change frequently to suit operational needs and preferences, where relevant.

University Policy Provides advice regarding the generic policy issues, policy creation and policy review

a. Generic Policy Issues

How do I find the policy I am looking for?

All University policies are listed on the University Policy Library either by title and/or by function. To search for a specific policy within the 'name' and 'function' areas of the website, readers are advised to press 'Ctrl' and 'F' at the same time, and then enter in the key word(s) associated with the policy title.

Who issues the numbers for a policy?

The University’s Business Information and Technology Services (via Information Governance Services) issue policy numbers. The policy number links with the policy’s information management on TRIM, in particular the provision of version control.

Who do I contact if I have a question about a policy?

The relevant Contact Position is listed at the end of each policy document.

Who can approve a University policy?

Policies are approved by the:
  • the Senate;
  • the Academic Council/Academic Board; or
  • the Vice Chancellor or other members of the Executive to whom the Vice-Chancellor has delegated responsibility for a particular portfolio.

Who is bound by University policy?

All staff and students are bound by University policy.

b. Policy Creation

Can I propose a new policy?

A University staff member or a UWA Student Guild representative may propose a new policy. Consideration of a new policy should first be discussed with the appropriate University Executive portfolio holder, to determine the appropriateness of introducing a new policy.

How do I know if I need a new policy?

A policy is created when a need to present a University-wide principle arises. Identifying what the policy needs to address is the first, and often most challenging step. To facilitate the identification of the policy issue and its intended outcome, it may be useful to ask the following questions:
  • What issues will the policy address?
  • Will the policy support the University’s strategic direction?
  • How will the formulation of policy enable University business?
  • What is the risk of undesirable outcomes (likelihood, severity and frequency) if a policy is not created?
  • Are there any impediments to achieving the desired policy outcomes?
  • What are the measures of success in determining if the policy is effective?
  • Who must be consulted to ensure ownership of the policy?
  • How will the policy be communicated and implemented?

Existing University policies should be examined to determine if the issue is already covered. This will determine if a new policy needs to be created or if existing policy should be reviewed and amended. When assessing the best course of action, options should be carefully evaluated, taking into consideration the relevant costs, benefits, consequences, implications and risks. Policy formulation must also be considered within the context of the broader University operating environment, ensuring consistency with relevant legislation and higher education standards. Policy writers are encouraged to use clear, consistent and positive language, avoiding jargon and technical language. The University provides a template that must be utilised when developing policy:

  • Policy template:
    • demonstrates what a standard University policy looks like;
    • helps guide policy writers; and
    • ensures consistency in approach across the University.

What help is available regarding policy writing?

  • Consult with the subject area expert who should be able to provide assistance in scoping the policy.
  • Register for training with the University’s Organisational and Staff Development Services (OSDS) to learn how to write University policy and procedure. OSDS webpage is located at: http://www.hr.uwa.edu.au/development/contact.
  • The Information Sheet: Writing Tips is also provided as a resource to assist with policy writing.

Do I have to use a certain format or follow a template?

Yes, all policy writers must use the following University policy template: policy template and publish the approved policy on the Policy Library.

How long does it take to develop a new policy?

A policy in development goes through a rigorous review and approval process, during which time the procedures are also considered. Relevant University stakeholders are consulted and there are often multiple drafts developed and reviewed. Developing a new policy often takes six months or longer.

What are the University external and internal requirements for policy compliance?

The University has a broad range of internal and external requirements that must be considered when developing policy. Listed below are examples of potential requirements that may need to be considered:

Examples of Internal Requirements

Examples of External Requirements

  • UWA 2020 Vision
  • University Legislation (such as Acts, Statutes, Regulations and Rules)
  • University governance
  • Academic dates
  • Delegations
  • Existing University policy and procedure
  •  Legislation (e.g. HESA Act 2003)
  • Agreements (e.g. Enterprise Bargaining Agreement)
  • Regulations ( Occupational Safety and Health)

Once my policy is approved, how do I get it listed on the University’s Policy Library?

Once a policy has been approved and is in the correct format (utilising the University template), utilise the following link to send a formal request to Information Governance Services - Records Management Services for a new University policy number. When a policy number is allocated, the policy can then be forwarded to Information Governance Services for uploading on to the University Policy Library, via TRIM. It is important to include the correct policy details at this stage (title, function – this will be verified by IGS, approval and review dates, approving body and appropriate contact person) as this information is then published with the policy in the Policy Library.

c. Policy Review

Can I propose a change to an existing policy?

A change to a current University policy should first be discussed with the head of the relevant Authoring Organisational Unit (AOU).

When does a policy need to be reviewed?

The University requires all policies to be reviewed at a minimum of every 3 to 5 years. The University has selected a 3 to 5 year timeframe to provide appropriate levels of stability and flexibility. The review timeframe is benchmarked against universities globally and is in line with current best practice.

What could trigger a policy review?

The University operates in an environment characterised by innovation, dynamism and at times, volatility. Changes to legislation, government policy and/or University goals and operations are some examples of the many circumstances that may trigger a requirement to review a policy prior to its scheduled review date. Stakeholders, both internal and external, can also trigger the early review of policy if they have identified an imperative to do so.

The University strongly encourages owners of policy to maintain an active awareness of the operating environment, to ensure policy is accurate, functional and responsive to all relevant stakeholders. Monitoring and evaluation work should consider risk management, resource allocation and overall performance of the policy in achieving its aims.

What are the possible outcomes of a policy review?

Outcomes

Level of approval required:

  1. No changes to the policy

Nil

  1. Consequential changes arising from approval provided elsewhere on a related matter

Nil

  1. Minor Changes

Approving body (or delegate – ie Chair of relevant Committee)

  1. Major changes

Approving body

  1. Policy rescission

How long does it take to revise a policy?

A policy in revision goes through a rigorous review process, during which time the procedures are also considered. Therefore, the duration of revision to a policy depends upon its complexity, the type of outcomes, the extent of revision and consultation required, and level of approval sought.

When do I rescind a policy?

When a policy has been consolidated into another policy document or is no longer required, the existing policy document must be formally rescinded and then removed from the University Policy Library. A policy may only be rescinded with the endorsement of the relevant Approving Body (That is, the Senate, Academic Board/Academic Council, or the Vice Chancellor or other member of the Executive to whom the Vice-Chancellor has delegated responsibility for a particular portfolio).

Development CriteriaFAQs relating to Communication and Implementation Plan Details the requirements around an effective communication and implementation plan

Is a communication and implementation plan necessary?

Yes, an effective communication and implementation plan is critical to the uptake and utilisation of policy and procedure in the University. See Information Sheet on communication and implementation plan.