Academic Board News - Meeting: 6/2023 - 28 November 2023

16 Feb 2024

Academic Board News  

Meeting 6/2023

28 November 2023



Academic Board held its sixth and final meeting of the year on 28 November 2023 in the Mills Room, Chancelry. 

The following is a summary of the key matters considered and discussed by the Board at this meeting.

Report from the Chair 

The Chair spoke to the written report and highlighted key items with members including; addressing academic freedom matters and requests for guidance/advice, attendance at the Australian Academy of Science symposium “Scientific Collaborations in a Contested World”, an update on the Academic Board Self-Assessment and next steps. The Chair, noting the meeting would be her last as Academic Board Chair, expressed thanks to all Board members and the Corporate Governance and Risk Colleagues for their work and tireless support in overseeing academic governance at the ANU.

Report from the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic)

The University Registrar, Mr. Scott Pearsall, updated the Board on the activities of the Academic Portfolio. Board was advised that the volume of applications received through new Extenuating Circumstances Application (ECA) platform and staff resourcing issues have led to challenges in the implementation of the ECA process. System adjustments, addressing resourcing and the planned transfer to a Microsoft e-form next year will all contribute towards enhancing the student experience and improving the ECA process. Proposed amendments to the Policy and Procedure will be submitted to Academic Board in early 2024 and additional data on the volume of ECA applications and status (percentage of resolved/unresolved) be submitted to Academic Board 1/2024 (12 March). 

HDR Oral Examination Proposal 

Preliminary discussions regarding the introduction of an oral examination to ANU Higher Degree Research (HDR) assessment requirements commenced in 2018 – the resulting proposal was codesigned with HDR candidates to utilise their insights. A thorough review and consultation of HDR assessment models across comparative institutions indicated that oral examinations improve the experience for HDR students and make students more competitive post their PhD studies. The HDR Office will support administrative elements of introducing an oral assessment element, including facilitating training for candidates and administering approval processes. Academic Board approved the proposal for the introduction of oral examinations for research degrees at the ANU from July 2024. 

Artificial Intelligence – ANU Institutional Principles

 The proposal to establish a set of Artificial Intelligence (AI) Institutional Principles was endorsed at AB5/2023. Following Board endorsement, the draft principles were submitted to the Learning and Teaching Committee (LTC) and the University Research Committee (URC) for comment and feedback. The principles were then revised to take into consideration feedback received from AB, URC and LTC. The revised principles will provide a framework for developing guidance and policies – initiatives and work streams developed in alignment with the principles that have operational and resourcing requirements will go through their required committee/governance channels. Board endorsed the principles and recommended that a Report be submitted to Academic Board 1/2024 (12 March) that details how the principles will be operationalised, risks, next steps and plans for communicating the principles. 

Curriculum Framework and Graduate Attributes 

Implementation of Pilot Report The Academic Quality Assurance Committee (AQAC) has overseen the development of a pilot program to model how Colleges will embed the graduate attributes into their respective curricula – the program proposes that each College submit one program to pilot. Board discussed the pilot program and invited reflections on the impact that undertaking this work will have on courses – re-iterating that the overall objective is to improve the student experience, provide quality courses and create accomplished graduates. Members expressed some concerns about the proposed timeframes for undertaking the curriculum reform – Board was advised that the AQAC will address timeframes and will inform the development of a forward work plan that is agile and accommodating. Board requested that a further report (suggestion was a Gant chart or similar) be submitted to Academic Board 1/2024 (12 March) that outlines a brief work plan of the key dates, deliverables, and workflow through to Academic Board and its Committees. 

Multi-Disciplinary Research Priorities 

The Strategic Research Initiatives Governance Framework (endorsed at AB6 2022) provides the structure and processes for the University to establish a set of multi-disciplinary research priorities. The priorities were drafted following a thorough and rigorous consultation process – it is envisioned that the ANU Community will take ownership of the approved set of priorities. Board discussed the complexities of aligning the University priorities with national priorities, which often reflect the agenda of the sitting government, and associated challenges regarding critical engagement with the government on initiatives such as AUKUS. Board endorsed the proposed research priorities and made the following recommendations – that the priorities be mapped to the ANU Research Strategy, a plan be developed and presented to Board on the communication and implementation of the priorities and that they be reviewed, at least annually, by URC. 

Other matters 

Academic Board also considered other significant matters, including: the Academic Risk Monitoring Report and emergent risks; an update from the Dean HDR that included details on the iThenticate roll out and SASH prevention and working group; the ANU Discipline Rule Annual Report; Academic Board Self-Assessment and development of recommendations; the Academic Freedom Annual Report 2023; ANU Research Strategy Update and the Postgraduate Experience Research Survey Report.


Academic Board will meet on 12 March 2024 for its first meeting of 2024.