On Tuesday 20 July Academic Senate held its fourth meeting of the year, this time fully online, using a flipped format with pre-recorded videos being used to enable more time for discussion of items.  The Top 5 from our meeting were:

1. Post-Implementation Review of Support and Recognition for Students involved in Academic Governance

The student co-Chairs Danielle Tonkin and Leanne Freame, both previous Senate members, provided an extensive report and pre-recorded video detailing the results of a survey gathered from students and staff.

Their review recommended a number of strategies to strengthen the support of student representatives on Senate committees, including providing a clear understanding of the student representative role and responsibilities within the respective committees, a comprehensive student and committee-specific induction, a semi-structured mentoring support program and timely communication. Current means of recognition and incentivisation including letters of acknowledgement, recognition on AHEGS and credit towards a PACE unit or the GLP were found to be appropriate and were recommended to continue.

Academic Senate endorsed the findings of their report and committed to develop a student-led action plan for implementation with effect from 2022.

2. Approval of the new Enrolment Policy; Leave of Absence and Suspension of Study Procedure; and Withdrawal Procedure

The Director of Student Administration, Nermeen Abraham provided a video overview of the new Policy and accompanying Procedures, highlighting response to feedback provided since the previous drafts, in particular, to ensure consistency of nomenclature, streamlining of procedural elements, and further information on the different processes for domestic and international students.

The new policy and procedure documents provide clear guidelines for students wanting to take a break from their studies, either as a leave of absence (domestic and international students who would not ordinarily require a Student Visa) or a Suspension of study (International students who require a Student Visa) or withdraw from either a unit or their course as a whole.

3. Curriculum Management Framework Policy Suite

The Pro Vice-Chancellor (Programs and Pathways) Professor Sean Brawley held a workshop prior to the Senate meeting for Senators to ask questions about the draft policies that will make up the Curriculum Management Framework, and a video overview that summarised the consultation process for the policies.

These policies will cover the full course lifecycle from ideation, accreditation, annual review, re-accreditation and discontinuation.  The policies will be brought back to Academic Senate for approval at the 31st August 2021 meeting.

4. Academic Senate Statement on Academic Freedom

Mr Peter McCarthy, previously the University’s Director of Governance Relations, recommended a change to the Academic Senate Statement on Academic Freedom that limits the degree of sanction that can applied when staff or students express views outside of their professional competence and standards and to fold it into an overarching policy that combines both Freedom of Speech and Academic Freedom. The recommendations were based on an assessment of our policies by Professor Sally Walker against the French Review of Freedom of Speech in Australian Higher Education Providers. Senators approved both recommendations.

5. Management of Offsite HDR candidates

The Pro Vice-Chancellor, Graduate Research, Professor Simon Handley, outlined a summary of the structures now in place to ensure support and maintenance of quality standards for students undertaking their research offsite, with a number of students being unable to be physically located in Sydney due to the global pandemic. This includes 3 monthly reviews and provision of HDR supervision guidance notes as part of an extensive suite of eResearch tools.

Posted by Jacqueline Phillips

Jacqueline Phillips is a neurophysiologist and Professor of Neuroscience at Macquarie. She worked as a veterinarian before pursuing medical research. She is currently the Chair of Academic Senate.

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