The Academic Board is tasked with ensuring the University maintains the highest standards in teaching, scholarship and research. Its broad governance remit includes the review of academic policy, and the approving of degrees and other awards. Equally important, it provides a critical forum to facilitate information flow and debate within the University, and between the senior executive and the wider academic community.
Report from the Chair
The Board was pleased to note that ANU Council had approved our recommended amendments to the Academic Board Charter. This formalises the role of the Board in maintaining oversight of Academic Freedom at the University. A working group comprising members of the Board, the Executive, and others selected for bespoke skills, will meet on 12 November to discuss further recommendations to ANU Policy and Procedures.
The Board also discussed the issue of 3rd Party Providers, including concerns about the absence of an operational level risk register for academic issues. Additional work on the topic of risk will be undertaken by the Board in the near future.
Academic Freedom and University Autonomy Summit
Another outcome of Board’s work on Academic Freedom is the University’s commitment to a symposium scheduled for 4-5 December 2018. Whilst the program is still being finalised, I am pleased to announce Professor Glyn Davis AC, as our keynote speaker. I hope Board members, and indeed the broadest possible number of colleagues and students, will participate in this event.
Extension of Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency (TEQSA) Re-registration deadline
Quietly working in the background as a sub-committee to the Board throughout 2018, has been the TEQSA Re-Registration Working Group (TRWG). They were diligently preparing for the University to submit its re-registration application in December 2019.
It is likely they will now have plenty of additional time. Board members were informed by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) that TEQSA had invited the University to request an additional three year extension for our re-registration. This is historically noteworthy, and considered due recognition of the excellent academic governance work of the ANU. Further details will be communicated in due course.
The Admissions, Scholarship and Accommodation (ASA) Project – what does it mean for diversity?
In response to a poll question, the Provost and the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) spoke with members about a selection of the diversity initiatives underway at the University. This included recognition that if rolled out successfully, the ASA Project will deliver greater diversity in our undergraduate student cohort.
The Board acknowledged that by many metrics, the ANU undergraduate population is among the least diverse in the sector. One of the primary aims of the ASA Project is to address this issue by promoting socio-economic and geographic diversity, whilst recognising there are real and inherent challenges in doing so.
Board members also discussed the Board’s academic staff profile. It was noted that with the exception of Indigenous members, our staffing profile is reasonably diverse. Members further discussed the relative levels of diversity at senior appointments, including amongst our professional staff.
The Pro Vice-Chancellor (Education), Professor Grady Venville, spoke about the very real challenge for students in understanding the complex architecture of the University’s degree programs. It was noted this will be a difficult issue to address, requiring extensive consultation and peer analysis. There are however, opportunities for review afforded by the impending transition to a new resourcing model.
One important discussion point was the acknowledgement that schools and colleges do not own degrees. ANU degrees are governed by Academic Board for the University as a whole. This is an issue that will be actively promoted throughout 2019 as we transition to the new resourcing model.
Academic Board agreed to the in-principle introduction of the title ‘Professor Emerita.’ It is intended that academics offered ‘Emeritus Professor’ status, will now have the option to select a feminine form of the title.
Throughout October, members of Academic Board were invited to participate in a self-assessment survey of their performance for the year. The results of the survey were overwhelmingly positive.
The vast majority of members noted the significant achievement of delivering the University Statement on Academic Freedom. There were also several excellent ideas submitted for Strategic Items in 2019.
Academic Board is keen to hear from the wider University. What are the big issues regarding academic governance that you want us to address? Chat to your College / Student representatives or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Members of the Board and I are also available to speak at College fora.
Professor Jacqueline Lo
31 October 2018