Academic Board News; meeting 3, 2020

7 August 2020

The Chair welcomed Professor Imogen Mitchell to her first Academic Board Meeting as the Deputy Chair, and introduced members of the Steering Committee as appointed by the Board.

Semester 2 2020 - Grading Scheme

The Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) advised that the stressful impact of COVID-19 on students continues in Semester 2 2020 and necessitates an extension to the alternate grading scheme adopted in Semester 1 2020, which has, overall, been received positively by students.

In response to questions from the Board, the DVC (A) advised that:

  • Clear messaging will be directed to students on the impact of alternate grades on scholarships and academic progression into courses. 
  • Students can request the Registrar revert their records to their original grades if a GPA is deemed necessary.
  • For Semester 1, 2021 it is expected that regular grading would resume as students become accustomed to the new normal.

COVID-19: Effects and Implications

The Chief Operating Officer (COO) provided an update about the University's management of the COVID-19 situation. 

The following main points were made during the discussion: 

  1. The Critical Incident Management Team (CIMT) for COVID-19 concluded its work on 7 June 2020.
  1. Over 600 ANU staff were directly involved in the COVID-19 response.

With lessons learned including:

  1. Appreciating the significance of having an overarching mission, goals and values in guiding the CIMT, especially where decision making is concerned.
  1. The importance of making progress rather than seeking perfection, and the necessity to maintain progress in periods of high uncertainty.
  1. Receiving regular feedback while responding quickly.  
  1. The benefit of having reliable sources of information and expert advice such as that provided by the CIMT's Expert Panel.    
  1. Ensuring that decisions taken at the highest levels are implemented.  
  1. Discovering the great capacity and commitment from the ANU community.  

The Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Student & University Experience) also explained that the University is gradually moving into highly coordinated Business As Usual environment to risk-manage COVID-19, especially where the return to Campus strategy is concerned.

Poll Questions

What have we learned from ANU's crisis response that will inform how the University will make academic decisions in a post-crisis management environment?

The COO explained that the continuing academic challenge for the University also includes aligning strategy to execution, while being flexible enough to respond to changing circumstances.  

Noting recent QS rankings and the potentially uneven COVID-19 impact across the higher education sector, how should ANU's position be interpreted relative to other institutions in Australia and globally?

The Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research & Innovation) explained that COVID-19 - and especially the   travel ban - will have a long term and potentially disproportionate impact on the ANU relative to other institutions.  As a result, the University will need to carefully explore the manner in which it deals with the effects of COVID-19 equitably.  To achieve this, the DVC (R&I) invited and would welcome suggestions from members.   

Given Vice-Chancellor's recent statement that ANU remains committed to being an on-campus university, how should that inform the ways in which we plan and deliver current and future modes of remote teaching and learning?

The DVC (A) reported that results of the survey on remote teaching in Semester 1 2020 were mixed. Students appreciated learning flexibility but raised a number of issues with remote study. Student feedback continues to be monitored with the University working with all areas of student engagement as part of its commitment to continuous improvement.    

The DVC (A) also confirmed that the University remains committed to face-to-face teaching, with remote teaching and learning being a temporary arrangement in response to COVID-19.

Report from the Vice-Chancellor

The Vice-Chancellor spoke to the item and highlighted the following:

  • ANU staff narrowly voting to vary the Enterprise Agreement that will defer a two per cent pay increase for all staff effective from July 2020 to July 2021, and July 2021 to July 2022.  
  • Substantial changes being announced to Commonwealth funding for tertiary education, generating a pronounced impact on HASS disciplines. Members also discussed the balance between funding and excellence in education outcomes.   
  • The Vice-Chancellor's membership to a government Working Group on research policy.
  • The potential of ANU and the CSIRO collaboration. 
  • Extensive planning to ensure safety on campus, including strict arrangements for the International student 'pilot' project into Canberra, beginning in July 2020.

Other Matters    

  • Accreditation items for graduate and undergraduate awards 
  • Coursework Courses Grades Distribution Analysis Report
  • TEQSA Re-registration Working Group Update
  • Annual Report on Discipline cases
  • ANUC Board of Studies (BoS) Meeting Papers
  • Reports from senior Executives and Sub-committees
  • Altered Assessment for 2021 Admissions for UAC international Applicants in Relation to COVID-19
  • Policy documents for VC approval
  • Education Policy Review Schedule

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.