On Tuesday 31 August, Academic Senate held its fifth meeting of the .year, with Senators zooming in from around Sydney, Australia, and the world.  Our Top 5 items from the meeting were:  

1. Approval of Curriculum Policy Lifecycle suite

As part of a Framework to oversee and guide all the stages of the Curriculum Lifecycle, Academic Senate approved a suite of policies that deal with specifically with courses of study, course components and units, from accreditation, monitoring and re-accreditation to discontinuation. The policies support the processes through which a course, its units and course components are approved (accredited) for delivery, undergo regular annual monitoring and are reaccredited at least once every 7 years. The policies will ensure that all courses, and the units from which they are composed, are fit for purpose, meet internal and external requirements and quality standards and ensure our courses benefit from enhancement processes that deliver continual improvement. They will also provide students with the opportunity to evaluate and provide feedback on their learning experience beyond individual units and provide staff the opportunity to evaluate courses and their delivery. The policies will also ensure our courses benefit from consultation with relevant industry partners and professional associations.

The policies were presented by the Chair of Academic Standards and Quality Committee (ASQC) and the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Programs and Pathway) who explained the extensive consultation and review process that the policies had undergone. We also discussed the Thematic Review Policy and the links from that to the policy suite, and the role of governance bodies in the Course Suspension and Discontinuation Policy.  Discussions resulted in a refinement to the Unit of Study Periodic Review Policy, highlighting that the policy was designed to ensure that units provide students with an exceptional academic experience that meets their needs, as well as the requirements of industry, or disciplinary fields, and scholarly understandings.  The policies were effective immediately and are now live on Policy Central.

2. Ongoing Response to COVID-19

The DVC (Academic) provided an update explaining that COVID-19 provisions for special consideration will continue (being an extension from 5 to 7 days from the assessment task due date for submission of applications, and submission of a statement of fact as sufficient evidence), but that the standard grading system will remain in place with no Special Circumstance grades applied for results in S2, 2021. Students provided feedback in support of this approach, although highlighted the ongoing need for communication to students in various formats to ensure students awareness of their options for support remains high. Other updates on the response to the ongoing situation included an update from the VC noting continued discussions on when international students might be supported to return to Australia, and an update from the PVC (Graduate Research) on the support for HDR students currently located offshore.

This post reflects items as at the August meeting of Academic Senate. For the most current information on the response to COVID-19 please first see https://www.mq.edu.au/about/coronavirus-faqs

3. Student-led business

Feedback was provided by our international student representative on online exam scheduling for students in other time zones. The Pro-Vice Chancellor (Learning and Teaching) advised her portfolio is taking this feedback on board when planning for S2 2021 examinations. Student representatives also provided feedback from their peers on their keenness to return to campus when possible.

4. Presentation on Global MBA and Coursera: Delivery with other parties

Associate Professor Steve Jaynes (Interim Course Director, Global MBA) joined our meeting and delivered a report on the Global MBA, a fully online MBA degree that is targeted at the Asia-Pacific market and is delivered through the Coursera Platform.  In addition to enrolling in the Global MBA, learners from across the globe can access components of some of the units via the open Coursera catalogue, enrol into just one unit via a non-award offer, a bundle of 4 units (Master Track) or a Graduate Certificate.

The report from Associate Professor Jaynes highlighted to members how the Global MBA is meeting Macquarie University’s quality and standards including the processes for unit results ratification and review and student feedback mechanisms.  Course level performance indicators such as success rates, retention rates and progression were presented and assured Senate that the outcomes for students undertaking the Global MBA are on par with the MBA and other postgraduate courses offered by the Macquarie Business School.   

I highlighted to members that this report aligns with the role of Academic Senate to monitor student performance and ensure that at courses delivered with other parties are meeting the University’s quality standards and those set by the Higher Education Standards Framework.

5. Welcome and Farewells  

Farewell Professor Yvonne Breyer – our August meeting was Yvonne’s last meeting with us in her capacity as Chair of the Senate Learning and Teaching Committee. Yvonne took on the role of Chair of SLTC in 2019 and worked hard to invigorate the committee and take a collaborative approach in particular to policy reviews.  She spearheaded the review of the Assessment Policy and Procedure, which was approved in February 2020  and came into effect last month.  Yvonne is now the Deputy Dean (Education and Employability) in the Macquarie Business School, and we look forwards to working with Yvonne in this new capacity. 

Welcome Professor Matt Bower! – Matt has been co-opted to Senate following his two-year appointment to the role of the Chair of Senate Learning and Teaching Committee.  Matt has a sustained commitment to, and passion for, high quality learning and teaching. He has received two Vice Chancellor’s Awards for Teaching Excellence (2012, 2019), an Australian Award for University Teaching Excellence (2020), and a Principal Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy (2020). Matt’s research is in the field of Education, and he has interdisciplinary teaching experience at Macquarie, including in the Actuarial Studies, Computing, and Education. Matt has experience in academic governance as a previous member of Academic Senate (2019-2020). We look forward to Matt’s contributions as Chair of SLTC.

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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