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Overview of the Summative Program Assessment Process


The Summative Program Assessment (SPA) is a Senate driven process with Provost oversight for its implementation. Approximately 130 VIU academic programs are reviewed in the SPA process (See: Senate Procedure 31.15.003: Summative Assessment of Instructional Programs and Units). “The Vice-President Academic and Provost has operational authority for the management of instructional programs” (Senate Procedure 31.15.003: Summative Assessment of Instructional Programs and Units). Planning and Priorities Committee of Senate has been delegated with the responsibility to guide and manage “periodic” Summative Assessment.


The goal of the summative program assessment process is the transparent assessment of academic programs in relation to their contribution to VIU’s overall mission as identified in the Board approved Academic Plan. Consistent with Policy 31.15, Review and Assessment of Academic Programs and Departments, and related procedure, 31.15.003, programs are assessed in relation to their context, relevance, quality, financial performance, access, and strategic priority. Details related to the policy, procedures, data metrics, and timelines can be found at:

Data Metrics

Program assessments are based on both qualitative and quantitative factors. Data for the assessment process were obtained from VIU’s human resources, financial, and student record systems, the Ministry of Advanced Education’s Central Data Warehouse, and the BC Student Outcomes survey results were made available to the VIU community through a web-based product (Tableau). Data metrics for all programs were made available to the Deans and faculty in all Faculties.

Review Process

Data metrics and a reporting template were made available by the Office of University Planning and Analysis (UPA) in February, 2015 (for details see SPA 2015 website).Following consultation with faculty and program chairs, Deans submit their reports, with recommendations, to the Office of the Provost and Vice President Academic (PVPA) by June 30. The Provost then examines the individual program reports and the Dean’s recommendation (i.e., should a program be enhanced, maintained, or reviewed). After completing a review of all materials and recommendations from the Deans, the Provost will present his recommendations to Planning and Priorities sub-committee of Senate in the September 2015. At that meeting, the Provost and Planning and Priorities sub-committee will examine the details of the recommendations in relation to the recommendations emanating from the Deans and the Faculty Councils and the associated metrics used to support the recommendations.  If necessary, the Provost will adjust the recommendations before presenting to the Planning and Priorities Committee of the Whole.

Recommendation Categories

As a result of the 2015 SPA process, refinements were made to the recommended categories, reducing them from five to three:


Programs in this category are generally on track with respect to meeting targets and may require only minor revisions or improvements.


The “Expand” and “Enhance” categories from SPA 2012 have now been combined. Programs in the newly defined Enhance category are those identified as having significant opportunities to respond, for example, to increasing student demand, exceeding financial performance, meeting a specific regional/community need, enhancing student access, and/or contributing to VIU’s strategic priorities.  Programs in this category also include those which could be expanded through the addition of new delivery methods (e.g. online or blended) locations, as well as the development of new laddering options (certificate & diplomas), or the establishment of joint program agreements with other institutions.


Programs identified for further review will lead to one of three outcomes: Further Review (while continuing to run), Suspend, or Cancel.

Overall Findings

The SPA process is an in-depth review of programs across all Faculties to ensure alignment with institutional goals and priorities. While the vast majority of programs will likely continue to be maintained in their current form some may require some minor adjustments to increase student numbers or round out program delivery; others may be recommended for enhancement and others for review.

Programs Identified for Suspension

Following a more in-depth review, in consultation with affected faculty, faculty unions, the student union, and Dean the Provost will bring recommendations for program suspension forward to Planning and Priorities Committee. The Provost will work with the relevant Deans and faculty, to determine whether the selected program should be recommended for redevelopment or cancellation. The Provost will work with the relevant Dean to identify potential Review Committee membership composition. Following that review process, Planning and Priorities Committee of Senate will recommend to Senate whether a program should be redeveloped or cancelled.

Diagram of Review Process:

Review Process

Implications for Students

The process of program analysis will ensure that no students are disadvantaged. All students currently enrolled in a suspended program will be provided opportunity to complete their studies if a program is cancelled rather than redeveloped.

Implications for Faculty and Staff

For programs affected by suspension, a plan will be developed during the next year to prepare faculty and staff for transition should programs be eventually cancelled.

Recommended Faculty review process:

  • Form a Departmental/Faculty Review Team,
  • Seek expertise/advice from internal and external community and other institutions to provide unbiased commentary related to program relevancy, potential modifications and scale of potential investment requirements to ensure program relevancy,
  • Hold Faculty/Departmental meetings with faculty, staff, and students to review issues and identify potential solutions,
  • Recommend either redevelopment or cancellation.

Required analysis:

  • Explore the key issues noted in the Summative Assessment and determine the level of difficulty in addressing those issues.
  • Identify program competitiveness vis-a-vis other institutions. How do program financial, student and learning outcome metrics compare to other institutions?
  • Identify implications of recent program reviews, other relevant reviews and activity. What did program reviews have to say? Were issues identified and have they been addressed. If not, why not?
  • Determine fit with Academic Plan (AP) by referencing specific aspects of the AP.
  • Identify potential Institutional synergies with program redevelopment. Can the program be redeveloped to link with other programs and institutional investments?  At what cost? (i.e., full cost accounting).
  • Detail a redevelopment budget if redevelopment is proposed. Identify sources of funding.
  • Detail a cancellation plan if cancellation is proposed.