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Policy Framework

Framework Overview

The Policy Framework comprises overarching principles, procedures and guidelines used for the development and review of academic policies. Click here for the full Policy Framework document.

The purpose of the policy framework is to articulate principles that underpin all activities relating to policy formulation and review; ensure that policies are developed, approved, applied and reviewed consistently; and provide a single point of reference for information relating to policy development and review.

Policy Framework Principles
Policies developed under the framework will:

  • embody and support the University's mission, values and strategic aims, and be consistent with national legislation and institutional statutes, regulations and other policies.
  • be guided by international good practice.
  • be clear, transparent and easily accessible.
  • be enhanced by effective consultation and communication with relevant stakeholders.
  • be monitored and periodically reviewed to ensure ongoing relevance and fitness for purpose.

What is a Policy?
Policies are formal statements of standards and principles that establish the University's official position in relation to academic and student related decision-making.

How do policies relate to the University's regulatory, procedural and advisory documents?

  • Academic Regulations are the formal rules that govern the academic progression of students through their programmes and the UCD Student Code articulates standards of conduct and behavior expected of the student body.
  • Procedures stipulate the steps necessary to implement a particular policy and practical information for policy users to steer them through the process.
  • Guidelines are advisory and explanatory documents that guide policy users on policy application or implementation and can be tailored to a specific audience, such as staff or students.

Outline Process
There are five stages of the policy formulation process: initiation; development, approval, implementation and review. For an overview of the policy formulation process please click here.


Initiation and Development

The development of new academic policies is guided by the University's strategic objectives and educational priorities. A schedule for policy development and review is established annually in consultation with the Registrar, Academic Council and where appropriate other stakeholder groups. To access a list of policies scheduled for development or review click here.

Position Papers
In preparation for policy development Academic Secretariat prepares position papers to provide a rationale for the development of the policy, outline the key policy issues and highlight any potential risk associated with the identified policy gaps. Policy position papers help to evaluate whether the policy is required and whether its development is a priority for the University.

Policy Working Group
Draft policies are developed by Policy Working Groups whose membership is primarily drawn from the academic community, including members of Academic Council and staff holding academic leadership roles. In addition, representatives of the Students Union; relevant administrative staff and other appropriate stakeholder groups are sought.

Policy Working Groups are established by the Registrar and are administratively supported by Academic Secretariat. The group's role is to formulate a draft policy document based on relevant research; review of international good practice and in consultation with appropriate stakeholders.

Report of the Policy Working Group
The Policy Working Group is also required to submit a covering report with the draft policy. The purpose of the report is to outline key information about the process used for policy development (including membership of the working group); provide relevant background and context to the policy being presented; to document any additional issues identified that fall outside of the scope of the policy document and to make recommendations regarding same. The report may also make appropriate recommendations regarding the dissemination and implementation of the policy.


Approval Process

Following finalisation of the draft policy document the Working Group will submit the draft to all relevant committees of Academic Council and where appropriate to relevant University management committees for formal consultation and general endorsement. Draft policies may be revised in light of discussion at such fora. The revised policy document is submitted to Academic Council for formal approval.



Once approved by Academic Council the implementation stage of the policy development process is initiated. The effective communication and dissemination of approved policy is essential for successful implementation and application. The communication of new or updated policies is captured in a communication plan by the relevant Policy Officer in consultation with the Policy Working Group. Communication plans are suitably tailored to each policy.

An implementation plan documents all tasks required and assign responsibilities required for the effective implementation of a policy (see Policy Toolkit). Progress against the plan is monitored by the relevant Policy Officer.


Policy Review

It is essential that once established, policies remain relevant, fit for purpose and consistent with the
University's mission, strategy and objectives. There are two types of activity to ensure this: monitoring and periodic review.

Academic Secretariat monitors approved policies by recording issues raised
during the implementation phase of a new policy; using feedback provided by policy users and by regular monitoring of policy decisions made under the delegated authority of Academic Council .

Periodic Review

Stage 1 Policy Review: Stage 1 review is used to address minor issues that may arise during the implementation of the policy or during its first year of operation. This process may result in some amendments or clarifications in the policy document or related procedures. Relevant Academic Council Committees may be asked to review proposed revisions before being submitted to Academic Council for approval.

Stage 2 Policy Review: All approved policies are subject to periodic review. Reviews normally take place after 3 - 5 years of operation.. Policies are formally reviewed by working groups, appointed by the Registrar/Academic Council. The purpose of stage 2 review is to examine, in detail, whether the policy has achieved its objectives and is still relevant and fit for purpose. Specifically Stage 2 policy review seeks to determine whether the policy:

  • remains consistent with best practice and the strategic direction of the University,
  • continue to meet stakeholder needs
  • complies with any existing related policies and supports the University regulations
  • works well on an operational level
  • could be enhanced

Stage 2 policy reviews are conducted by working groups, which are convened by the Registrar/Academic Council. All proposed revisions require the approval of Academic Council. For more information on the policy review process see the Policy Framework document.


Policy Toolkit

The Policy Toolkit has been created to provide guidance and support to university staff and students who are involved in academic policy development. It brings together all procedural documentation; guidelines and templates relevant for policy development and review.

If you have any suggestions for the enhancement of the Policy Toolkit please submit your comments via the Policy Forum.