The IRU Universities are distinctive in their commitment to broadening participation in higher education providing a quality valuable lifelong education base for all our graduates. We draw our students from suburban, peri-urban, regional and remote areas of Australia, with high proportions of disadvantaged and ‘first in family’ students. At the same time, we are also research intensive and innovative in the way we address some common problems in higher education.

As a group the IRU members are confronting the challenges of the digital economy which is both changing the nature of work for most and opening up many opportunities to change how university education is enjoyed.

The IRU Vice-Chancellors Fellow, Associate Professor Jessica Vanderlelie is leading our response to this challenge.

IRU is committed to ensuring effective standards of assessment across all our courses.  The IRU Academic Calibration Program is a practical sign of our commitment and the potential from universities working together.  Through the Program each university gets considered feedback from academic staff in another university about the standard of work required for each assessment outcomes.

Academic Calibration Project

The Academic Calibration Process (ACP) is an external peer review process that is undertaken in collaboration with other Innovative Research Universities.

ACP is as an inter-institutional quality process aims to provide a comparable review and constructive feedback for selected higher education units to:

  • demonstrate the appropriateness of the standards of learning outcomes and grades awarded in IRU universities
  • maintain and improve the academic standards of IRU
  • enable comparisons of learning outcomes in similar subjects across IRU
  • promote discussion on good practice in learning and teaching across IRU.


Academic Calibration has four key components

1. Engagement 2. Preparation
Each university selects units they would like to calibrate. These are distributed to calibration coordinators at each university to find suitable calibrators. The unit coordinator will select one assessment task from the unit, and collate student samples and supporting materials relating to the unit; Student samples are de-identified and sent on to the calibrating university.
3. Review 4. Evaluation
 The calibrator receives materials they have a two-week window to evaluate all items provided and fill out the templated reports provided.  Once the review process is complete, a short process evaluation will be filled out by both the calibrator and unit coordinator to allow for continuous review and improvement of the calibration process.


The benefits of evaluating and improving units is at its core of benefit to students who participate in the units. Being an active participant in the calibration process also has a number of benefits at academic and organisational level.

Unit and Course Coordinators Calibrators Schools, Faculties, and Universities
  • ACP is a good opportunity to reflect on your unit and assessment outside of standard information gathering, metrics, and internal evaluation processes by having the opportunity to seek external feedback from a discipline based colleague at another institution.
  • Becoming a calibrator is notable as request for nominations go to all IRU institutions, and you are selected based on your experience in the discipline and your well-developed sense of academic standards.
  • ACP meets a HESF requirement
  • ACP is intended to be collegial and constructive, and you will receive an evaluation that either affirms your work, or provides useful feedback on how you could improve
  • ACP is also a good form of professional development, and gives you the opportunity to experience and evaluate a unit from your discipline from another institution.
  • Having calibrated units within your school/faculty means you can contextualise assessment and grading of your units in a broader national context.
  • ACP demonstrates a commitment to continuous improvement which is beneficial for professional development
  • In many cases in the pilot phase calibrators reported there was a cross-pollination of ideas, and they too learnt how they could improve their units from the evaluation of others.
  • Calibration is documented endorsement of the consistency and reliability of your school/faculties assessment and grading methods, comparative to the sector.
  • ACP reports can positively support existing processes such as course review, and professional accreditation of courses.
  • For calibrating a unit, you will also receive a $600 honorarium.
  • ACP contributes to proactive improvement of units, continually raising the standard of learning and teaching

Further Information

The following information guides are available to give you detailed information on the process by role, and answer any particular questions you may have:

Abbey Murray Charles Darwin University
Regan Marten La Trobe University
Alison Black Murdoch University
Anna Smith
Flinders University
Cecilia Arrigoni
Griffith University
 Mariana Van Niekerk James Cook University

IRU Contact

The IRU welcomes other institutions to participate in the calibration process.  If you are interested in participating please contact the IRU Calibration Coordinator, Abbey Murray: