Academic Board News; meeting 2, 2020

18 May 2020

In responding to and managing the impact of COVID-19, Academic Board formally convened and documented three Special Meetings between scheduled Meeting No 1/2020 on 17 March 2020 and Meeting 2/2020 - this meeting.

Board welcomed 25 new and returning elected staff members to the ANU Academic Board for the period 1 May 2020 - 30 April 2020.

COVID-19: Effects and Implications

The Chief Operating Officer (COO) spoke to the item and advised the Critical Incident Management Team (CMT) is now in its final iteration with a clear goal of ensuring an orderly return to Campus. This consists of following three components:

  1. A Taskforce headed by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Student and University Experience) to ensure critical research staff are the first to return on Campus, followed by other staff and research students soon.
  2. Developing a financial health strategy.
  3. Ensuring the wellbeing of University staff and students.

The DVC (SUE) stated that the goal of his Taskforce is to prevent as much as is possible a local outbreak of COVID-19 on Campus, while observing social distancing as well as good hygiene practices. The Taskforce is working with the University Leadership Group (ULG) to develop a specific set of actions in line with the Governments' stated guidelines to establish a new business as usual plan for the next 18 months.

The following main points were also made during the discussion:

  • CMT will ensure that protocols are in place to assist local areas in developing a specific set of actions, which will be monitored through occupational safety and health (OSH) mechanisms.
  • If there are multiple outbreaks in future and a possibility of community transmission, the CMT may have to be convened again.
  • Use of the government's COVID Safe App is a personal choice, at the moment.However, individual case testing will be consistent with Government guidelines.
  • Performance of IT systems and the IT team has been critical in supporting remote teaching and learning.

The DVC (Academic) further advised that a hybrid model will exist from 2 June 2020, with face to face teaching plus remote learning for those students who cannot access the Campus, as well as international students. Decisions need to be also made at the local level about which courses can be best offered in a hybrid model. Health, hygiene and social distancing protocols will continue to be a priority within the teaching and learning environment.

Board noted that PPM is developing a survey specifically concerning remote teaching.

The Deputy Vice-Chancellor (R&I) also provided an update on his Research Continuity Working Group and advised members that a progressive return to research activities on Campus is being planned in collaboration with Deans and Directors.

Report from the Higher Degree Research

The Interim Dean Higher Degree Research (HDR) spoke to the Report and advised that the implementation of the HDR Strategy outlined in the Redefining the ANU PhD White Paper has been delayed due to the COVID-19 situation. The Office of the HDR is, however, focused on priority areas that can be managed remotely, including:  

  • The oral examination pilot in collaboration with student bodies;
  • Initiating two regular scholarship rounds;
  • Having a Supervisor Development Framework to support the development and engagement of academic staff who supervise HDR students, including a portal with resources available to supervisors.
  • Workshops on student mental health; and
  • The Admissions project.

In response to questions from the Board, the Interim Dean HDR advised that:

  • The Group of Eight universities have compiled a list of international HDR students whose visas have been delayed to present to the Government.
  • Mental health of HDR students is essential in the current disruptive environment, with supervisors encouraged to have regular contact with their students.

Other Matters    

  • Academic Plan Update
  • Policy documents for VC approval
  • Annual Report on Admissions Incidents
  • Annual Reports on Academic Standards
  • Reports from senior Executives and Sub-committees
  • Grades Distribution Analysis Report - Semester 2 2019
  • Academic Governance Review 2019 (Winchester Report) - Implementation Update

Get in Touch

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 are also available to speak at College fora.