Academic Board News; Meeting 3, 2019

16 July 2019

Vice Chancellor’s Report

Board expressed its concern about the recent data breach and discussed its implications on academic freedom and the security of ANU students’ information. Board also discussed the vulnerability of academic systems such as turnitin and the need to reduce the degree of compulsion of academic data being stored in such systems. 
Board further noted that the success rate for NIG applications was only 15% and alternative sources of funding for promising but unsuccessful NIG bids are being considered.

Chair’s Report 

The Chair provided an update on the following matters;

•    Report of the Independent Review of Freedom of Speech in Australian Higher Education Providers by the Hon Mr Robert S French AC, former Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia, and the draft Model Code for the protection of freedom of speech and academic freedom, a proposal arising from the Report.   
•    Academic Governance Review Report Working Group and its terms of reference.
•    Academic Risk Register Working Group, led by the A/DVC (Academic), and its terms of reference.
•    The Working Group established to examine data and academic programs.

The University's Chancellor  

Ms Anne-Marie Schwirtlich AM, a member of the ANU Council and of the Council’s Chancellor Nomination Committee tasked with searching for and recommending a new Chancellor, led a discussion with the Board about the qualities required for the role, the progress being made and the process being followed.

Graduate Coursework Working Party Report  

The Graduate Coursework Working Party was set up by the ANU Academic Quality Assurance Committee (AQAC) to ensure that ANU’s graduate coursework offerings are aligned to the Strategic Plan and ongoing pursuit of excellence. Board approved the Graduate Coursework Working Party’s Report to commence implementation of proposed recommendations.

PhB and Undergraduate Research Degrees Review  

The DVC (Academic) commissioned a review of the advanced undergraduate research degrees offered at ANU in 2018.  Board discussed the recommendations contained in the subsequent Review Report and endorsed the management response to the recommendations.

College Presentations 

Board, at its Meeting on 12 March 2019, discussed program accreditation requests from Colleges and the need for improved oversight of overall goals and context to ensure appropriate quality control. Consistent with this, the Deans of CECS and CASS presented their draft College strategic plan.

Poll Questions 

Academic Board discussed the following topics:

Many academics believe in the pedagogical value of the lecture. In addition to innovating lecture delivery, should we make lecture attendance mandatory?

The A/DVCA spoke to the topic and asserted that attendance might be necessary for some teaching however, mandating it is not an appropriate measure. Staff need support in terms of student engagement.

Board agreed that lecture mandating might not be appropriate, but noted that;
•    Providing materials online is leading to a reduction in academic attendance.  
•    Many students are skipping the first lecture so non-attendance is not merely an indication of poor lecturing skills. 
•    A clear understanding and assessment of participation is missing. 
•    Attendance is a major concern for bigger colleges like CBE.
•    Lectures have been significantly undervalued. 

Board accepted that assumptions are not to be made and data should be used to understand the structural reasons behind low attendance. Board will revisit this topic later this year when such data is available.

What is the status of the 'Re-imagining the ANU PhD' initiative?

The Interim Dean HDR spoke to the topic and advised that the HDR White Paper is currently being made available for feedback, and will be submitted to the Board for consideration later this year. 
The Interim Dean HDR summarised the key principles and strategies included in the White Paper, and advised that a number of initiatives have already been undertaken. 

Board further discussed development of the Oral Examination Pilot for PhD projects in collaboration with PARSA

What are the KPIs for the PVC International Strategy? What is the process for developing the Strategy?

The PVC IS spoke to the topic and identified the following KPIs for the portfolio;
•    Student diversity and attracting a wide cohort.
•    Establishment of international recruitment offices.
•    Dual degree programs around the globe.
•    Full service international partnerships.
•    International funding.

Board requested an opportunity to provide feedback to the draft strategy before submission to Council.

Your Ideas 

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 the Secretary. Members of the Board and I are also available to speak at College fora.

Professor Jacqueline Lo
Chair Academic Board