Academic Senate Top 5, April 2018

On Tuesday 10th April we held an Academic Senate meeting. The full agenda is up on the Academic Senate website and papers are available on Truth. For a quick rundown, watch the Chair’s vlog and check out the Top 5 items discussed at the meeting below:

1. Vertical Double Degrees

At the April Senate meeting, Senate approved the principle of a vertical double degree. A vertical double degree program enables high-achieving students to enrol in a program that combines bachelor and cognate masters degrees. A typical program drawn from a three years bachelors and a two years masters would be delivered as an integrated program in 4 years. This approach emerged in England and Wales, where they are known as ‘Integrated Masters’. Some universities in North America and in Australia have begun to trial similar programs.

A DVC(A) working group was convened to prepare guidelines for how this approach to program design could be introduced at Macquarie. These guidelines were discussed at ASQC recently, and then at Senate.

Benefits include time and cost savings for students, greater student engagement and a more integrated curriculum. There are some risks to be monitored, for example ensuring there is an articulation into Higher Degree Research.  The PVC(P&P), Prof Sean Brawley will continue to engage each Faculty in development of this project, and will provide ongoing updates to ASQC and Senate.

2. Master of Research (MRes) updates

The Dean HDR, Prof Nick Mansfield presented data on the distribution of MRes thesis examination results 2014 – 2017. The percentage of candidates suitable to enter PhD study began at a high base in 2014 and has increased each year since.

The Prof Mansfield also provided background to the Research and Research Training Committee of Senate’s decision to maintain the current practice of appointing two external examiners for Master of Research (MRes) theses. The use of two external examiners broadens the pool of relevant expertise, adds to the prestige of the degree,  and avoids potential or perceived conflicts of interest. The Academic Senate resolved to endorse this decision.

3. Fitness to Practice procedure

Dr Brad Windon provided an update on the forthcoming Fitness to Practice procedure, which will provide a consistent approach for managing the progression of students who must meet certain standards of fitness for specific external accreditation requirements and/or to ensure their own safety and the safety of others.

The procedure formalises existing processes and provides a robust framework that assures transparency and procedural fairness. This includes opportunities for early identification, notification and intervention so that additional support and training may be made available to students identified as at risk.

Significant consultation has occurred with each Faculty. The Working Group are preparing to bring the procedure for approval at the May Senate meeting. Any final feedback on the draft (appended below) can be directed to the Project Officer, Sarah Rosen

 4. Assessment, Unit Guide and Grade Appeal Policy Reviews

The Chair of the Senate Learning and Teaching Committee, Dr Mitch Parsell presented a joint update from the Assessment Policy Post-Implementation Review Working Group, Unit Guide Policy Review Working Group and Grade Appeal Policy Review Working Group.

He has charged the Committee last year with the goal of consolidating learning and teaching policies where suitable to provide a more easily navigated set of policies, and to monitor the student experience. The outcomes of each Working Group should fulfil both goals.

The recommendation is that the Unit Guide Policy will be rescinded and replaced with a condensed Unit Guide Schedule under the Assessment Policy. An ongoing Working Group will monitor the required fields in Unit Guides. The Grade Appeal Policy Working Group similarly will be rescinded and replaced with a Grade Review Schedule under the Assessment Policy. The grounds for review have been consolidated from 5 to 3, and better reflect the reasons students give for requesting a grade review.  In addition to the two new Schedules, some wording and definition changes have been made to the Assessment Policy to clarify some questions that arose after implementation. Any final feedback on the current draft (appended below) can be directed to the Project Officer, Antonia Dykes

 5. Welcome to Co-opted Student Senators

  • Aadidev as the Undergraduate Student Member from the Faculty of Arts
  • Bhavana Balkatta Murlikrishna as the Student Member enrolled in a postgraduate coursework program
  • David Thomson as the Student Member from Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences
  • Yvette Noble as the Undergraduate Student Member from the Faculty of Business and Economics

The co-opted members will be with us for the April and May meetings. They were off to a running start this month, weighing in on papers in their first meeting.

The upcoming May election will appoint new student representatives on Academic Senate for the period 1 June 2018 to 31 May 2020. More information is available on the elections website.

Our next Academic Senate meeting is on May 29th from 9:30am, and staff or students are welcome to attend as observers – please email

Posted by Marie Herberstein

I am a biologist and work on the behaviour of spiders and insects here at Macquarie University. I am currently the interim Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic).

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