FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

AQA’s constitution establishes that part of its purpose is to apply quality enhancement processes that assist universities in improving student engagement, academic experience and learning outcomes. The enhancement theme is consistent with this aspect of AQA’s purpose. AQA’s role is to support and facilitate the scheme through providing secretariat support for the Enhancement theme steering group. AQA will also manage theme evaluations and the development of synthesis reports.

WHAT IS AN ENHANCEMENT THEME?

An enhancement theme is a topic of national significance and important to all universities, that all universities will work on in a common time period. Universities will not all be expected to do the same thing or take the same approach to the theme, but they are expected to be working on the theme topic, sharing good practice and providing constructive peer review of developments and plans.

WHAT IS THE TOPIC OF THE ENHANCEMENT THEME?

The enhancement theme will address access, outcomes and opportunities for Māori students and for Pasifika students.

HOW WAS THIS THEME CHOSEN?

The theme was selected at a meeting of the Deputy Vice-Chancellors (Academic), Assistant ViceChancellors (Academic), or similar positions (or their nominees) at a meeting with Academic Quality Agency in January 2017. It was subsequently approved by the AQA Board and has been critiqued and refined in correspondence between AQA, the Vice-Chancellors, Te Kāhui Amokura and at a further meeting of DVCs and AVCs Academic, or equivalents, in July 2017.

HOW IS THIS FUNDED?

Each university will meet their costs of participation.

ARE ENHANCEMENT THEMES USED IN OTHER PLACES?

Scottish universities have been using enhancement themes for over a decade. New Zealand universities will learn from Scottish universities regarding what has worked well for them, and consider what would be appropriate and useful for New Zealand universities.

WHAT ARE THE OBJECTIVES OF THE THEME?

The specific objectives will vary by university. However, the overall objective is to improve access, outcomes and opportunities for Māori students and for Pasifika students in university study

HOW LONG DOES THE ENHANCEMENT THEME LAST?

The theme is on a topic that all universities are already actively engaged with and pursuing. However, the enhancement theme component of Cycle 6 academic audit will last for 2-3 years. While work in universities is likely to be ongoing, the enhancement theme component of Cycle 6 academic audit will finish at the end of 2019.

WHY IS THE ACADEMIC QUALITY AGENCY INVOLVED?

HOW DOES IT FIT INTO THE CYCLE 6 ACADEMIC AUDIT?

Cycle 6 Academic Audit has a 7-8 year period between the Cycle 5 and Cycle 6 audits for individual universities. Enhancement theme activities will occur over the first 3 years of the Cycle 6 timeframe, after which the emphasis will shift back to academic audit for the remaining 5 years of the cycle. Recommendations from the enhancement theme will be addressed in the audit component of the cycle.

WHY HAS THIS THEME BEEN CHOSEN?

The participation and achievement of Māori students and Pasifika students is a priority within the Tertiary Education Strategy. New Zealand universities have made good progress on access, support and achievement for both of these groups of learners. However, the universities and AQA all recognise that further progress can be achieved.

WHAT IS THE ADDED VALUE FOR THE UNIVERSITIES?

The enhancement theme will promote sharing of good practice across universities. It will make it easier for those involved to identify colleagues, critique initiatives, and share good practice. There are likely to be benefits from all universities intentionally addressing an enhancement theme topic concurrently. There are also likely to be findings that will be relevant to other groups of learners, for example first-infamily learners or rural learners. The theme will be evaluated to assess whether and how value is being added.

©2020 by New Zealand Universities Enhancement Theme.