On Tuesday 7 April Academic Senate held meeting via Zoom. The full agenda is up on the Academic Senate website and papers are available on Truth. To streamline holding such a large meeting via Zoom we took a ‘flipped classroom’ approach and presentations on some items were pre-recorded. Senators watched these prior to the meeting which allowed us to focus the meeting on questions about the presentations.

For a quick run-down, here are the Top 5 items discussed in these presentations or during the meeting:

1. Student-led Business and Question on Notice

We had a number of questions from both our student and staff members in the lead up to the April meeting. Many of these were related to the COVID-19 situation and were also addressed in communication in the lead up to the meeting, or in other items on the agenda. We discussed:

  • The provision of student amenities online during the current situation. The Executive Director, Student Engagement and Register provided a summary of student communications. For current information see the Online-Zone website.
  • The transition of experiential units to online teaching, and feedback channels for students to provide input and feedback on this transition, including through the Associate Dean Learning and Teaching in their Faculty. Since the meeting, the PVC (L&T) has also launched a survey to all students, available in iLearn.
  • The potential for increased availability of online offerings in the future, after this situation has resolved. We discussed that this is possible, particular if students indicate they respond well to online study, but it is too soon to provide a definitive answer
  • Grading practices in light of the COVID-19 situation. The approach taken by the University, to not record fail grades, was outlined by the DVC(A) and was available on the University COVID-19 response website in the days leading up to the meeting.
  • The extension to scholarships and duration of candidature for HDR. For current information see COVID-19 FAQs for HDR

2. Updates on Senate Projects – Response to External Review; Review of Composition; Review of General Coursework Rules

The Executive Director, Student Engagement and Registrar is Chairing the working group to develop a response to the External Review. Senators were provided with a draft response from the working group which accepted all recommendations with three minor amendments; and this was well received. The working group will return in May with a final response, and an implementation plan.

I am Chairing a Review of Composition of Academic Senate, a project that arose in February in response to the dissolution of the Faculty of Human Sciences. Senators provided some feedback on a draft composition, in particular on recommendations around a sessional staff representative and on a process to assess gaps in expertise and diversity. The working group will integrate this feedback into a final version that will return for the consideration of Academic Senate in May.

Professor Cath Dean is Chairing a Review of the General Coursework Rules for Practical, Clinical and Professional Programs, and presented an update on the project. Senators discussed the need for more clarity about the Inherent Requirements Framework. They also gave feedback on the eligibility for  ‘practical, clinical or professional’ courses.

3. Cohort Monitoring

The Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) is Chairing a Steering Group to oversee a program of work streamlining University processes in monitoring academic quality and outcomes. One aspect of this work is the introduction of a Student Outcomes Group to add value to our academic and operational activities and strengthen the relationship between the Academic and Corporate arms of governance.

The Executive Manager of the Office of the DVC(A) provided an overview of the project, and the Chair of ASQC spoke to feedback provided by ASQC. Feedback provided included a recommendation that the Student Outcomes Group include both faculty and student representation, and some changes to the diagram in the report.  

4. Amendment of Special Consideration Procedure

We heard from the Deputy Chair of Senate on proposed amendments to the Special Consideration Procedure and the Supporting Evidence Schedule as part of the response to the current COVID-19 pandemic, in particular alternative forms of evidence available for disruption, and an extension to the deadline to apply for COVID-19 relation disruptions from 5 to 15 working days.

Academic Senate approved this amendment. This has been advertised in ThisWeek, and details are available on the student portal.

   5. Welcome to new members

We welcomed:

  • Stephen Burke – who is joining Academic Senate as sessional staff representative. Stephen works in MQBS in the Department of Management.
  • Leanne Freame – who is joining as a postgraduate coursework representative. Leanne is a Doctor of Medicine Students from FMHHS
  • Maria Koutsouklakis – who is also joining as a postgraduate coursework representative. Maria is an MBA student from MQBS
  • Shabnam Mohamad Shafiq – who is joining as the representative for the Faculty of Medicine, Health and Human Sciences. Shabnam is a Bachelor of Clinical Science student.
  • Professor Amanda Barnier – who is joining as a co-opted ex-officio member. Professor Barnier is Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research Performance) and a Professor in Department of Cognitive Science,

We look forward to working with each of our new members!

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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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