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The Association of Atlantic Universities (AAU) and Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission (MPHEC) Quality Assurance Monitoring Committee

Terms of Reference

Purpose

  1. To advise and assist the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission, an agency of the Council of Maritime Premiers, in ensuring continuous improvement in the quality of academic programs and of teaching at post-secondary institutions included within its scope by monitoring institutional quality assurance activities, as described in the MPHEC Quality Assurance Policy.

Function

  1. The Committee shall:
    • Monitor the outcomes of institutional quality assessment policies and procedures, within the parameters established by the Commission. These parameters are described with details on the process in the Commission's Quality Assurance Policy;
    • Suggest relevant research/publications to the Commission and assist in their preparation, as they relate to quality assurance; and
    • Examine issues or carry out projects as the Commission may deem necessary and appropriate, as they relate to quality assurance.

Objective of the monitoring function

  1. The specific objective of the monitoring function is to ascertain that the procedures used by institutions to assess the quality of existing programs, and other functions as appropriate, are performing adequately as quality control and quality improvement mechanisms.
  2. The purpose of the Committee in carrying out the monitoring process is to provide answers to the following two questions: first, "Is the institution following its own quality assurance policy?", and second, "Could the institution's quality assurance policy be modified to better ensure the quality of its academic programs and services or is satisfactory as is?"
  3. The process is intended to be formative; institutional policies and practices will be reviewed with a view to provide assistance and advice to institutions.

Membership

  1. The Committee will be composed of eight members including the Chair.
  2. At least two Committee members are also Commission members.
  3. At least three, but ideally four Committee members will be selected from a list of nominees suggested by the AAU, and at least one of the three/four members selected from the list of nominees suggested by the AAU must be a francophone.
  4. Ideally, two Committee members are students.
  5. Members are appointed for a three-year mandate.
  6. Preferred profile of members
    • Appreciation for, and expertise in, quality assurance and periodic program and unit reviews.
    • Respected by the post-secondary education community.
    • Not a current member of an institution's senior administration.
    • Preferably not a current public servant within a department of education.
    • Preferably not currently in the employ of an institution on the Commission's schedule.

Chair

  1. The Chair of the Committee is one of the Commission members appointed to the Committee and is designated by the Chair of the Commission.
  2. The Chair of the Committee chairs meetings.

Reporting Structure

  1. The Committee reports to the Commission. It shall report to the Commission at regular intervals.
  2. Monitoring reports are distributed to the AAU-MPHEC Academic Advisory Committee in advance of the Commission meeting to allow time for comment and advice.

Quorum

  1. The Committee's quorum is defined as a majority of current members, that is 50% plus one, provided other alternatives, such as e-mail, faxes or telephone, be used for decisions if a quorum has not beenachieved at a meeting.

Committee's Scope of Authority

  1. Committees are instruments of the Commission. A committee's work products are the property ofthe Commission.
  2. Committee members and chairs may not speak or act for the Commission except when formally given such authority for specific and time-limited purposes. Such authority will be carefully stated in order not to conflict with the authority delegated to the Chair of the Commission and the Chief Executive Officer of the Commission. Committee members and chairs cannot exercise authority over staff, and normally have no direct dealings with staff operations. Extraordinary requests for resources made by a committee must be approved by the Commission.

Link to the Association of Atlantic Universities

  1. The Association of Atlantic Universities (AAU) representatives to this Committee shall report to the AAU Secretariat any issues/opportunities that require the action/involvement of the member institutions. Minutes of meetings shall be forwarded to the AAU Secretariat in a timely fashion.

Staffing

  1. The attendance of the Chief Executive Officer, or designate (normally, a staff member), at all committee meetings as a resource and staff support is essential to the effective work of committees and to ensure proper and on-going alignment with the Commission's business plan. However, staff's primary accountability is to the Commission as a whole even when assigned the role of committee resource.
  2. The Committee is allowed to engage outside consultants, as required, to assist in the monitoring functions.

Policy on Conflict of Interest

  1. As relevant, the Commission's Policy on Conflict of Interest applies to the Committee:
    • Members shall act at all times in the best interests of the Commission rather than particular interests or constituencies. This means setting aside personal self-interest and performing their duties in transaction of the affairs of the Commission in such a manner that promotes public confidence and trust in the integrity, objectivity and impartiality of the governing body.

      No member shall directly or indirectly receive any profit from his/her position as such, provided that members may be paid reasonable expenses incurred by them in the performance of their duties and the honorarium, as set by the appropriate authorities. The interests of immediate family members or close personal or business associates of a member are considered to also be the interests of the member.

      Members are expected to avoid conflicts or the appearance of conflicts between their duties as a public appointee and their personal or business interest.

      An actual or potential conflict of interest arises when a member is placed in a situation in which his or her personal interests, financial or otherwise, or the interests of an immediate family member or of a person with whom there exists, or has recently existed, an intimate relationship, conflict or appear to conflict with the member's responsibilities to the Commission, and the public interest.

      Members shall not use information obtained as a result of their appointment for personal or commercial benefit.

      A conflict of interest may be “real”, “potential” or “perceived”; the same duty to disclose applies to each.

      Full disclosure, in itself, does not remove a conflict of interest.

      Principles for managing conflicts of interests

      In consultation with the member, and in the light of the specific nature of the conflict, the Chair and member may determine the appropriate response to the circumstance, as follows:

      • the member must withdraw from any discussion or decision-making process leading to a recommendation on the proposal; or
      • the member may remain in the meeting and participate in the discussion but refrain from voting; or,
      • the member may remain in the meeting and participate in the discussion and in the voting.

       

      In all cases the Chair will advise the governing body as a whole of the conflict, and of the outcome above, with reasons.

      Should the Chair be in a conflict of interest, the Chair will either (a) withdraw from any discussion or decision-making process leading to a recommendation on the proposal, or (b) ask the governing body to decide whether the Chair may remain in the meeting, participate in the discussion while refraining from voting, or remain in the meeting, participate in the discussion and in the voting.

      It is the responsibility of other members who are aware of a real, potential or perceived conflict of interest on the part of a fellow member to raise the issue for clarification, first with the member and, if still unresolved, with the Chair.

      Rules with regards to program proposals or specific funding request/issue

      When Commission members (or Committee members) are directly associated with the university whose programme proposal or funding request is under consideration, the member must, at a minimum, abstain from the final vote (or final recommendation/advice to Commission in the case of a committee). The abstention is noted in the minutes if requested by the member or Chair. In the event that this member is the Committee Chair, an alternate Chair is assigned for the consideration of the program proposal in question.

Members

Appointed by the AAU:

Charles Bourque, Prince Edward Island
Carl Breckenridge, Nova Scotia
Berkeley Fleming, New Brunswick

Appointed by the MPHEC:

Peter Butler, Nova Scotia
Colette Landry Martin (Chair), New Brunswick
Katie Stockdale, Student Representative
Jacques Thibodeau, Student Representative

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