Macquarie University’s Academic Senate met for its sixth meeting of the year on October 10th, and here are the top five takeaways that you need to know: 

1. Elevating Excellence: Support for Learning and Teaching and Macquarie University

In line with our commitment to academic excellence, Academic Senate discussed a significant initiative led by the Senate Learning and Teaching Committee (SLTC). Launched in March 2023, this project assessed existing staff development and teaching support against industry benchmarks, highlighting key strengths such as the influential Teche educational blog, the Professional Learning and Capability Enhancement (PLaCE) Framework, and recognition of the scholarship of Learning and Teaching in the Promotions Policy. The initiative identified several areas of opportunity, from policy effectiveness to implementation practices with recommendations including the launch an Awards Pipeline Scheme and support for staff to undertake a Graduate Certificate in Higher Education. By focussing on these key strengths and opportunities, the project will help shape ongoing strategy work to elevate professional development and teaching practices at Macquarie University.

2. Proactive Approach to Research Integrity Matters

The Academic Senate reviewed the annual report focused on research integrity at Macquarie University which details how Macquarie University is actively working to elevate research integrity, assuring it is an integral part of our academic culture and practices. The report summarised cases from 2022 and outlined progress made in implementing integrity-related recommendations and policies over the past year. As part of a well-integrated research integrity framework, the Research Integrity Professional Development and Support (RIPDS) Strategy for 2022-2026 aims to further strengthen this by enhancing researcher training and understanding of integrity principles. New initiatives include the creation of a Research Integrity Champions group to foster best practices and the introduction of an academic award for research integrity.

3. Monitoring Academic Success and Challenges: Insights from Student Performance Reports

The Academic Senate has reviewed reports on student performance across Macquarie University, identifying both successes and areas of concern. Encouragingly, undergraduate students are performing better than they have in seven years, and postgraduate success is also trending upward. However, attrition rates for part-time and online students are worryingly high across all faculties. Recommendations for improvement include providing targeted support to these at-risk student groups and enhancing data analytics capabilities.

Separately, Macquarie Business School offered insights into its Global MBA program. The program enrols over 240 primarily domestic, high-calibre students. While the academic outcomes are strong and consistent with high-quality accreditations from AMBA and AACSB, there’s an active discussion on whether to change the program’s curriculum due to shifts in the online MBA market. As a result, new enrolments will be paused beginning Term 1, 2024.

4. Mastering Engineering: New Specialisations Get Senate Approval

Academic Senate approved a suite of new Masters of Engineering (Professional) courses, offered Mechanical, Civil and Construction, Environmental, Renewable Energy and Electrical, Mechatronics and Automation Engineering. These courses meet the criteria set forth by Engineers Australia, the external accrediting body and align students’ graduate-level specialisation with their undergraduate focus, thereby maintaining academic coherence and professional relevance. These new courses are expected to roll out starting from Session 2, 2024.

5. Guide to the Revised Curriculum Architecture Policy

Academic Senate approved a sweeping overhaul of the Curriculum Architecture Policy. First initiated in 2018, the policy has now been refined to be more user-friendly, while still meeting stringent academic standards. Current courses will remain unaffected by the revised policy. However, as new curricula are rolled out, these substantial amendments will set the new standard.

Notable Revisions:

  • Graphics over text: the new policy incorporates simplified tables to make information more digestible, replacing former text-heavy sections.
  • Standardised language: all terminology has been adjusted to comply with TESQA, HES, and AQF regulations, ensuring a uniform policy framework.
  • Unit level clarity: the policy now includes defined unit levels, offering better clarity for both faculty and students.
  • Transparent award systems: nested awards are clearly laid out, making it easier for students and educators to understand the implications of each award type.
  • Name changes: the category “extended major” is newly introduced for undergraduates, while “specialisations” will henceforth be limited to postgraduate studies.
  • Removal of redundancies: several less relevant aspects like viability scoring have been excised from the Policy and the Curriculum Architecture Principles, which are now part of the revised policy, have been expired.

Spotlight: Postgraduate Double Degrees

A new schedule for approved Postgraduate Double Degrees has been introduced, based on detailed metrics and student performance, replacing the earlier open-choice system.

Policies / Rules Approved at this Meeting

Senate received a range of proposals following reviews of policies and reviews, and:

  • endorsed revisions to the Higher Degree Research Rules to become the Graduate Research Rules for recommendation to Council for its approval,
  • approved an amendment to the definition of low risk shared teaching;
  • approved corrections and proposed amendments to the Higher Degree Research Admissions Policy and associated schedules to align with the proposed changes to the Higher Degree Research Rules; and
  • endorsed proposed amendments to include the academic costume for students who are graduating with an Undergraduate Certificate from the Macquarie University College to the Academic Costume Rules for recommendation to Council for its approval.

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

Consultation on Higher Degree Research Thesis Preparation, Submission and Examination Policy and Procedure is currently being undertaken with staff and students via the Policy Central Bulletin Board and the following key policies are also under review: 

  • General Coursework Rules; and
  • Academic Progression Policy

Mark your calendar for the last Senate meeting of 2024 on 21st November. Interested in attending? Keep an eye on ThisWeek notice in mid-November 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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