On Tuesday 22 February, Academic Senate held its first meeting of the year, with Senators zooming in from around Sydney, Australia, and the world.  Our Top 5 items from the meeting were:   

1. Welcome, Thanks and Farewells  

We gave recognition and thanks to: 

  • Professor Sean Brawley, who has left the University to take up a new position at the University of Wollongong. Sean’s portfolio engaged strongly with Senate and the work of ASQC and were central to a number of key successful and transformational outcomes for the University including the Curriculum Architecture Principles and Policy, introduction of the Curriculum Management System and more recently the Coursework Policy suite
  • Mohika Tainwala, one of our postgraduate coursework student members who has graduated. She represented Senate on ASQC as well as being a member of the Partnership with and Recognition of Student Members (Response to Recommendations) Working Group.  
  • Professor Magnus Nyden who is leaving his role at the University as Executive Dean of the Faculty of Science and Engineering to return home to Sweden. Magnus has been very supportive of the work Academic Senate and committed to the principles of Shared Academic Governance. 

We welcome: 

  • Professor Lesley Hughes as the Interim Executive Dean of the Faculty of Science and Engineering, noting Lesley has been a member of Senate in her previous role as Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research Integrity and Development). 
  • Associate Professor Agnes Bosanquet, who was elected last year as the new academic staff member from the non-Faculty electorate 
  • Associate Professor Michael Hitchens who has accepted an interim appointment as Chair of the Academic Standards and Quality Committee (ASQC). Michael also spoke later in the meeting giving an overview of the first ASQC meeting. 
  • Associate Professor Taryn Jones who is acting as Interim Pro Vice-Chancellor (Programs and Pathways), noting she has been a member of Senate in her previous role as Chair of ASQC. 

2. Report from the Chair 

In my report, I focused on our function in regards to Academic Freedom. In 2021 we approved the merging of the Academic Freedom Statement with the Freedom of Speech policy to align with the Model Code for the Protection of Freedom of Speech and Academic Freedom in Australian Higher Education Providers., and one of the University Council’s responsibilities is the production of an annual statement that can attest to the University maintaining an institutional environment in which freedom of speech and academic freedom are upheld and protected and are actively addressed using the relevant policy or policies. Noting Senate functions to provide leadership measures to safeguard academic freedom, in the course of this year we will determine how to raise awareness and discussion of this important function,  including briefing materials for new senators at induction and discussion of relevant issues regarding academic freedom as part of our Senate agenda. 

3. Annual Report and Member Survey 

Academic Senate approved the report of its activities in 2021 which is an important part of assuring Council that the Committee meets its obligations and properly exercises its delegate authority. . Senators noted that in 2021 Academic Senate approved 11 new policies (including the Coursework suite of eight policies), approved 19 amendments to policies, endorsed and recommended 5 polices for approval, and rescinded 2 policies. 106 courses were amended, 8 language majors and specialisations were reinstated, and 19 new courses were approved (14 of which were the new Undergraduate Certificates offered by the Macquarie University College).   

We also noted a report about the Academic Senate Member Survey 2021  which was expanded in 2021 to include a question on diversity and inclusion and to incorporate a membership attribute matrix. Overall, the results were positive, with feedback about ways to increase communication about the work of Academic Senate. 

4. Indigenous Connected Curriculum

The Pro Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous Strategy) provided a report on a working party established in 2021 by Academic Senate to review courses and course components which have embedded Indigenous content in their curriculum and to review the alignment of the Curriculum Architecture Undergraduate and Postgraduate Principles. The structured approach to embed Indigenous culture and learnings in the curriculum adopted at the Macquarie University is clearly working, with over 50% of courses providing MQ students with some Indigenous content. She also referred members to the positive data from Session 2 2021 Learner Experience of Unit questionnaires (LEUs). 

Academic Senate unanimously approved the additional clause regarding embedding Indigenous connected curriculum into the MQ Curriculum: Postgraduate Coursework Principles, noting a similar clause already exists in the MQ Curriculum: Undergraduate Coursework Principles.  

5. Partnership With and Recognition of Student Representatives (PRSR) Project Post-Implementation Review: Report on Recommendations 

Emma Jackson, the Postgraduate HDR representative on Senate, and Associate Professor Wylie Bradford, Deputy Chair of Academic Senate, summarised the findings of the working group which examined the   PRSR implementation review recommendations. This included recommendations such as providing position information prior to elections, changes to the induction process, and provision of mentoring, and meeting support, not only for student members on Academic Senate but all its committees and also Faculty Boards. 

Academic Senate approved the implementation of recommendations from the 2021 review and, on behalf of the working group, Emma thanked Leanne Freame and Danielle Tonkin who were the student members of Academic Senate who co-chaired the PRSR project in 2017. 

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Our next meeting for 2022 will be March 22. Keep an eye out for our ThisWeek notice in early March giving staff an opportunity to observe, or contact the Governance Secretariat by email at senate@mq.edu.au 

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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