On Tuesday 21 July Academic Senate held a 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 before 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

We had a number of questions from both our student members in the lead up to the meeting, many related to the COVID-19 situation. We discussed:

  • support to HDR students

The PVC (HDRTP) outlined the response to date including automatic extensions to candidates close to completion, a process for candidature variations and extensions to scholarships. He highlighted that the Office of HDR Training and Partnerships has recently completed a survey of HDR candidates to understand more about the impact COVID-19 has had on their studies including data collection, interaction with supervisors, international collaborations, changes to external work arrangements and family arrangements. He offered to provide an update at a Senate meeting later in the year.

  • the Assessment Policy including the requirements around feedback and around the setting of assessments close to the exam period

The PVC (L&T) outlined content in the Assessment Policy, and highlighted that a review of the Policy is underway by a working group of SLTC. Students can provide feedback through a survey, by 5pm Friday 7 August.

  • A follow up to a question asked in May – how has feedback on changes to assessment for online delivery in Session 1 been taken into account for Session 2?

The PVC(P&P) noted that units for Session 2 have had their assessment delivery approved in the MQCMS. I also committed to refer student feedback around forms of assessment to the PVC (L&T).

2. Recognition of Prior Learning Policy and Procedure (ASQC / SLTC)

A review of the RPL Policy has taken place in response to the Curriculum Architecture revisions. The policy amendments were prepared by the Director of Student Administration in consultation with staff in the EDSER portfolio and the Policy Virtual Working Group (Working Group) of SLTC/ASQC. These amendments were brought to Senate and approved.

We noted the possible need in the future for minor amendments to align with any changes to the AQF.

3. Freedom of Speech Policy, Public Comment Policy and Social Media Policy

In 2019, Academic Senate completed a project on Freedom of Speech, Inquiry and Assembly and gave feedback to an interdependent project of the University Executive to draft a Freedom of Speech Policy. Academic Senate provided feedback on a draft Policy in June and this came back to Academic Senate at the July meeting, and was endorsed.

Two related policies also came to the July meeting for feedback. The Public Comment Policy has been revised to align with the Freedom of Speech Policy. It also gives guidelines on making comment, and how to connect with the Marketing portfolio for further advice.

The Social Media Guidelines have been revised to form a Social Media Policy, and a toolkit has been created to assist staff make use of the various channels to increase engagement.

These policies will soon be available on Policy Central.

4. Updates on Senate projects – Traffic Light report and Post-Implementation Review of Shared Governance

A number of projects have been completed in the first half of the year including the External Review, the response to the External Review, the Composition of Academic Senate and the Policy Review schedule.

The timing of some projects has been adjusted in light of the impact of the response to COVID-19 on resources both at the University and externally.

One project that will commence soon is the Post-Implementation Review of Shared Academic Governance. This project will review feedback from DVC(A), Faculties; Academic Senate and Committees of Academic Senate on the implementation of the Shared Academic Governance model. If required, it will recommend any refinements to the shared model; and provide recommendations for more permanent delegations from Academic Board to Faculty Boards.

  5. Reflections as Chair of Senate May 2016 – July 2020

This was my last Senate meeting as Chair, as on 1 August I will hand over to the incoming Chair, Professor Jacqueline Philips. It is fair to say that I had little idea of what the role of ‘Chair of Senate’ entails when I commenced some four years ago. It is also true that academic policy was not my strongest suit….by far. But I quickly learned with the support and guidance of the Senators, members of the executive and colleagues around the campus.

Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, I have very much enjoyed my role as Chair, it has given me a very broad perspective of the University and a comprehensive understanding of governance and policy. It has also allowed me to meet many new colleagues and to discuss academic matters with them. At all times, the governance team has supported me with expertise, advice and at times a firm hand to ensure Senate acts within its remit.

Senate is in excellent hands with the incoming chair, Jackie Phillips, who has been the Deputy Chair during my tenure. I look forward to working with Jackie in my new role as Interim DVC(A)

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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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