Macquarie University’s Academic Senate met for its fifth meeting of the year on August 29th, and here are the top five takeaways that you need to know: 

1. Insights on Diverse Student Outcomes

Senate discussed a five-year analysis on student success and attrition rates across several demographics including low socio-economic status (SES), Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, and students with disabilities. The findings suggest that part-time enrolment and earlier academic failures are significant predictors for lower success rates and higher attrition rates in all groups. Multiple systemic challenges also pose added complexity. It was decided that there is need to conduct further data analysis and engage with relevant groups to identify specific support needs.

2. Upholding Academic Integrity in a Digital Age

The Annual Report on Academic Integrity for July 2022 to July 2023 supplied Senate an in-depth look into the university’s multi-pronged approach to supporting academic integrity, particularly in the era of generative artificial intelligence (AI). Key initiatives like policy reviews, third-party arrangement policies, and academic integrity training modules were outlined. Completion rates for these modules were high among students but still needed improvement among staff. Discussion included concerns about the accuracy and transparency of Turnitin’s AI detection model, being factors, which led to the Universities decision to deactivate this feature.

3. Conversations about Conduct

The Academic Senate discussed a significant report on student conduct, highlighting 246 matters referred for investigation this year. Falsified documentation and unacceptable student behaviour were common, but contract cheating emerged as the most pressing issue. The Complaints Appeals and Misconduct unit introduced a “Courageous Conversations” model into the disciplinary process and will use a new digital forensics tool to identify potential contract cheating incidents. This tool is part of a broader IT initiative to automate detection processes. The Academic Senate touched upon multiple issues during discussions including the necessity for sector-wide consultation and assessment reforms to tackle this ongoing issue.

4. Senate 2.0: Modernising Academic Senate’s Terms of Governance

The Senate unanimously endorsed proposed amendments to its Rules and Procedures. This action arose from a comprehensive review intended to better align governance mechanisms with current delegations and recent university policy changes including the creation of the Macquarie University College Board. Key amendments include clarifying procedures for filling casual vacancies and election of the Chair and Deputy Chair, streamlining terminology and ensuring the rules and procedures are in line with the higher education standards.

5. Revamping the Graduate Research Rulebook

The Higher Degree Research Rules at Macquarie University are undergoing a comprehensive review for the first time in nearly a decade, aiming to modernise and align them with current best practice. Key proposed changes include renaming ‘Higher Degree Research’ to ‘Graduate Research,’ updating terminologies and definitions, and removing or replacing outdated policies and procedures. The Senate will discuss these revisions in a meeting scheduled for October after consultations with relevant subcommittees.

Policies in Progress: Your Guide to What’s Under Review

A comprehensive review and development of multiple key policies are currently underway:

  • The Curriculum Architecture Policy has entered its post-consultation phase and will be discussed in upcoming meetings.
  • The Course Transfer Policy is being refined and is expected to reach the Senate by year-end.
  • The first draft of the Qualifications and Professional Experience Equivalence Policy is now open for consultation and is pending approval.
  • The International Arrangements Policy is nearing finalisation.
  • Review of the Student Code of Conduct has been extended to Q4 2023 due to its interrelation with the Student Charter.
  • A review of the General Coursework Rules has begun, with Senate members actively invited to contribute.

Mark your calendar for the sixth Senate meeting of 2023 on 10 October. Interested in attending? Keep an eye on ThisWeek notice in mid-September or send an email to

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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