Academic Board News; meeting 5, 2019

18 November 2019

Chair's Report

Chair highlighted the following matters considered by Council:

Academic Governance Review (Winchester) Report

Council accepted the joint Academic Board and Senior Management Group's (SMG) response to the Report and agreed to the following in relation to two significant recommendations; 

Academic Board to be the delegated authority for academic governance, rather than the Vice-Chancellor.

Council agreed that, consistent with its established position that Academic Board should report directly to Council albeit in full consultation with the Vice-Chancellor, the Board should be formally designated as the delegated authority for academic governance, rather than the Vice-Chancellor, and that the Provost should proceed to develop a protocol to enable this change to occur.  This should include an outline of academic governance categories that reside with Council or Academic Board, and any instances where it would be appropriate and practical for academic policy to remain with the Vice-Chancellor.     

Revise and update the Risk Management Framework to ensure that academic risk is fully incorporated, evaluated annually, and academic risks identified in internal audit schedule.

SMG was concerned about two parallel risk management systems emerging.  Following discussion, Council determined that a specific academic risk component be developed and included as part of the next edition of the University's Strategic Risk Register. Additional academic risks may be identified and managed at the operational level by Academic Board.

Council also noted that a consequence of accepting the University response to recommendation 2 was that the Chair, Academic Board will, effective immediately, be seated with members at the Council table as a non-voting participant at Council meetings

French Model Code

Council approved in-principle the Model Code for adoption by the University and tasked Academic Board with developing a statement on Freedom of Expression.

Vice Chancellor's Report

Key aspects of the report included the following:

  • The importance for - and the commitment by the Vice-Chancellor - to fill key position vacancies. 
  • Gender equity and diversity as key priority for ANU, with the aim of achieving Silver Athena Swan accreditation.   
  • The Draft Foreign Interference Guidelines available for consultation, led by DVCRI and CISO - Board encouraged to discuss and contribute to the consultation.
  • Student Experience a leadership priority for 2020 - Board noted the focus on making residential halls and the overall campus experience a highlight of the ANU experience, enhanced by improved two-way communication with students, and supported by the highest standards of pastoral care.
  • Assistance of the ANU community and the Advancement Office in raising over $8m and creating more than 170 new scholarships.

Hot Topic: Freedom of Expression

Board had an engaging discussion on fostering a culture at the University that protects as well as celebrates freedom of expression.

A statement on freedom of expression goes beyond freedom of speech to include the right to hold views outside of popular norms, respecting differences of opinion and allowing the creation of a welcoming community that is free of vilification. ANU needs to reflect on what it considers desirable, and where limitations should be imposed, and rights preserved. 

Board agreed on the Terms of Reference for the Academic Board Working Group on Freedom of Expression and noted that as a next step, University policies will be reviewed to align with the Academic Board statements on Freedom of Expression and Academic Freedom. 

Poll Questions

Academic Board discussed the following topics:

What is the projected impact of the performance based funding model on the ANU?

The Vice-Chancellor spoke to the topic and advised that the model is an imperfect tool designed to allocate funding with a focus on student success, equity, graduate outcomes and student experience.  While the University is expected to be assessed quite well under the student success and student experience parameters, it may not be the case in respect of equity and graduate outcomes.

While graduate surveys are not expected to produce above sector average results, longitudinal results are far more positive for the ANU.

ANU was recently successful in its application for Bronze as part of the Science in Australian Gender Equity (SAGE) initiative. In light of the award it would be good to hear a reflection on what we learnt as an organization from the SAGE process and what initiatives are planned in this space moving forward.

In discussion, the Vice-Chancellor advised that;

  • SAGE was both a challenge and a learning process, especially in incorporating both academic and professional perspectives.  
  • ANU has done well with 'top down' initiatives and is becoming an innovator in the sector.
  • Appointing a Project Manager in this space is being considered to work collaboratively across the University to further enhance the work already underway.   
  • The SAGE process is highly prescribed - ANU should have its own goals going forward, mapping those on to SAGE rather than SAGE dictating accomplishments for the University.
  • One goal is to ensure that equity of opportunity and outcome are balanced.

ASA Update - are we seeing a diversification of the 2020 intake of students as anticipated? What has been the impact on our traditional cohort of Canberra-based students?

The Provost advised that the Admissions, Scholarships and Accommodation (ASA) Project is a part of enacting ANU's Strategic Plan to achieve set targets including steady decline in student growth, equal ratio of postgraduate to undergraduate student numbers, less reliance on international students, and increased student diversity.

The acceptance rate for domestic undergraduate intake for semester 1 2020 under ASA has been high. For next year, the University will rethink the number of offers in ASA round.

An increase in acceptances from students living in regional Australia, and students identifying as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander can already be seen however the intended increase in diversity of undergraduate domestic cohort will take time. There has been no significant change to the cohort of Canberra-based students or students from low SES areas.

New CECS Cyber Awards

These will be the first ANU awards to reference microcredentials as part of its program orders.

Board expressed reservations in approving the awards as an 'exit-only' and queried use of the term 'student' in the Master of Cyber proposal. Board agreed to grant in-principle approval of the proposal, subject to out of session clarification being provided by the A/Pro-Vice-Chancellor Education on admission requirements and the graduation process as concerns microcredentials.

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