On Thursday 21 May 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:

  • The student support package – Student senators provided positive feedback on the package and asked for information on the take-up and acceptance.  The Executive Director, Student Engagement and Registrar, Gail White provided some statistics. For the most recent data see the Support Package website. As the impact of COVID-19 continues, so does support – it is not too late for students to make an application.
  • Feedback from students keen to catch up on face to face activities once they have returned to campus. Professor Sean Brawley provided an overview of plans for forthcoming study periods. As the situation continues to evolve, so do plans for the return to campus.
  • Feedback on assessment format changes including changes from assessment taking place inside tutorials, to outside tutorials.
  • Change in delivery mode for courses with clinical placements. We discussed how the University benchmarked its response with that of other institutions, and guidance from accreditation and registration bodies including the National Principles: Clinical Education During the COVID-19 Pandemic.

 As a reminder, this blog reports on our May meeting, for the latest information on the response to COVID-19 please see the University website.

2. Response to COVID-19 – Special Circumstances grade, English Language Entry testing; and Short Courses

A number of responses to COVID-19 were ratified and/or discussed. In particular:

  • Senators discussed the ‘Special Circumstances’ grade that will be available to students who fail a unit during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • We heard presentations on alternative English Language tests for entry to both coursework and HDR programs and approved these for use during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • We also ratified the introduction of short courses for inclusion in the Federal Government’s Higher Education Relief Package. The full range of courses are visible on the pathway programs website.

3. Approval of Response to External Review, and Review of Composition.

Two Senate projects presented their final reports for approval. The response to the External Review accepted all recommendations from the external reviewer, with some minor amendments:

  • to refer a recommendation concerning the Faculty Boards approval of units to the DVC(A) as it fits within the remit of that portfolio
  • to amend a recommendation concerning an overlap between the outgoing Chair and the Chair elected from 6 months to 3 months
  • to extend a recommendation to develop a position description for the Deputy Chair to include Committee Chairs and their Deputies also.

An implementation plan for the response was also approved.

The final proposed amendments to the composition of Academic Senate were presented to amend the ex-officio (to increase by one to maintain balance), elected staff (to standardise representatives at three per Faculty) and elected student (to add an international student representative) composition of Academic Senate. We also noted an update on the pilot of sessional staff representatives, which will conclude later in the year.

4. Approval of Inherent Requirements Statement


The review of the General Coursework Rules project underway noted that the Inherent Requirements Framework existed outside of the policy framework which presented some challenges to implementation. A solution was put forward to ASQC and SLTC and then presented to Academic Senate to convert the Framework to a Statement and attach to the Admissions (Coursework) Policy. This change did not affect the scope or content of the Inherent Requirements – the existing content was moved to a more effective location.

5. Welcome

We welcomed:

  • Professor Leonie Tickle (Interim Executive Dean MQBS)
  • Professor Thomas Fath (Academic staff representative for Faculty of Medicine, Health and Human Sciences – filling casual vacancy that arose in elected position)
  • Koo Abuali (PG Coursework student)

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

Our next meeting will be on 21 July 2020.

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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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