National Advisory Standards for the Professional Practice of HR in Australian Universities

QUT received DEEWR funding in November 2007 under the Workplace Productivity Programme (WPP) to form a project in conjunction with Talent2 and Bond University that was charged with the development and delivery of national HR practice standards. This project has now been successfully completed.

The objective of this project was to develop a consistent set of National Advisory Standards for the Professional Practice of Human Resources (HR) in Australian universities. The Standards will also be used for international comparative benchmarking purposes. Standards set the basis for quality assessment, performance examination and for demonstrating to stakeholders that value for money is being achieved.

At the time that these standards were developed, there were no national standards for the professional practice of human resource activities in Australian universities. Thus each university independently established the standards that it ‘expected to see’. The Universities HR Benchmarking Group identified a number of HR measures and metrics relevant to the university sector and these were used to inform the research base in establishing standards. For example, the ratio of academic to non academic staff had a wide range of results across the sector but benchmarking could identify the mean, median and shape of the results. From this we estimated “what we would expect to see” and, importantly, variances could be justified on the basis of institutional diversity.

Similarly, the standards established “what we expect to see” in relation to individual universities by reference to the national advisory standards but also treat each university separately by understanding the reasons for adopting different standards. To have each university independently establish human resource standards would be manifestly inefficient (priority differences, time frame differences, format differences and common language would present obvious issues).

The intent of this project was to develop a consistent set of standards to address these issues.

In Scope areas

The five In Scope areas that were identified for progressing with the development of the HR Standards were:

  • Learning and Development
  • Remuneration, Benefits and Recognition
  • Workforce Planning
  • Attraction and Selection
  • Performance Management

These Standards were finalised in January 2011 and endorsed by the Project Sponsor in March 2011.

The five Standards were developed by subject matter experts from the participating Australian Universities.

University HR Activity Framework

The QUT/Talent2 Workplace Productivity Programme (WPP) project on ‘HR Standards in Australian Universities’ built a collection of HR Standards for five university HR activity areas. 

One element missing from the initial analysis of HR activities was the overall framework within which university human resources operate.  It was recognised that this is not an easy task but it potentially establishes the context in which university HR operates.

There is a growing recognition of the need for a HR framework.  There are models available from other sources, including overseas. 

The HR Framework, developed in conjunction with several Australian Universities and reliant on a selective literature review, sets out a potential format and content for a HR framework for the Australian Higher Education sector.

HR Benchmarking Measures mapped against the WPP University HR Advisory Standards

The final piece of the project was to align the Universities HR Benchmarking Program measures to the HR Advisory Standards, identifying whether the measures are (measures of) Inputs, Processes, Outputs or Outcomes, and whether they are measures of economy, efficiency or effectiveness.

Want more information?

Henry Wong

HR Benchmarking and Events Manager

03 8611 0515


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