Academic Board News; meeting 4, 2019

4 October 2019

Model Code for the Protection of Freedom of Speech and Academic Freedom

Accompanying the March 2019 Report of the Independent Review of Freedom of Speech in Australian Higher Education Providers by the Hon Mr Robert French was a proposed draft Model Code for the protection of freedom of speech and academic freedom. ANU Chancellor Professor The Hon Gareth Evans AC QC, is working with the Chancellors Council (UCC) to review and further develop the Model Code, and the University Council requested Academic Board to consider the revised Code.

The following main points were made during discussion:

  • Academic Board agrees with the principles presented in the Model Code, as provided to members. 
  • As the National University, the ANU should consider developing its own Model Code, informed by this document.  Members also noted that this would necessarily create more documents to observe and maintain, and to align with the existing Statement on Academic Freedom and associated statements and policies.   
  • Consultation throughout the University (that is, with academic and professional staff, and students) in the context of work performed at the ANU Campus and elsewhere, including internationally, will be essential before adoption of the Model Code.

Academic Board will be facilitating Town Hall meetings to enable the wider university community to contribute to a statement through discussion about freedom of expression and academic freedom at the ANU campus.

Hot Topic: International Student Education

This was an opportunity for Board to consider a holistic view of International Education at the University, emphasising the value of data in informing the University's strategic approach to international education.  

ANUSA representatives made the following main points as part of the discussion:    

  • Every international student at the ANU is an ANU student, whose welfare remains the responsibility of the University.   
  • Many international students live on campus, with more and better support needed within the residential halls. 
  • A greater office presence, beyond that provided by PARSA and ANUSA, would also greatly assist international students (especially so in instances where international students may be reluctant to seek advice or assistance).  Members noted that support provisions for international students are being considered by the Senior Management Group (SMG). 
  • The ANU College English-language courses for new international students have been particularly well received, and a helpful introduction to a new environment and friends. 
  • The University should consider extended and compulsory induction programs for international students, similar to models used in the United States.    
  • The Student Partnership Agreement for next year should focus on these matters.

It was also noted that from next year, all international students will need to meet the University's English language requirements when their application is assessed. English language admission requirements are set by the Academic Board.  The University will, however, commence offering free English language tutoring of up to 48 hours through ANU College, intended to support international students integrate into the University.

College Presentation 

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 Dean of the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific presented the College's strategic plan.

The main points made during the presentation and the discussion included the following:

  • The Plan aligns the College and its four Schools to the University's Strategic Plan, particularly in the area of delivering on its national responsibilities: to Indigenous Australia, in Asia Pacific expertise, and in public policy. It also commits the College to the highest standards of excellence across teaching, student experience, research, engagement and impact, and outreach.
  • A set of operational plans have been developed under each of these categories, with leadership teams submitting progress reports to the College executive three times per year. 
  • The Plan forms the underlying framework for performance and budget discussions within the College.
  • The Plan connects CAP objectives to the non-academic community.

Academic Governance Review 

On 13 June 2018 the Chair, Academic Board engaged Professor Hilary Winchester to evaluate academic governance structures and processes at the ANU against the requirements of the Higher Education Standards Framework.

Academic Board established a Working Group to consider the recommendations contained in the Winchester Report and reviewed the Group's response at the meeting for transmission to the Provost. A consolidated response from Academic Board and the Senior Management Group will be considered by the Council at its October meeting.

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, Aroosa Mehreen via Members of the Board and I are also available to speak at College fora.

Professor Jacqueline Lo

Chair Academic Board