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Academic governance

The academic governance arrangements of the University are subject to the oversight of the Academic Board, a formal body that reports directly to Council. The Board is tasked with ensuring that the University maintains the highest standards in teaching, scholarship and research.

The Board is responsible for approving new academic programs, reviews of, and amendments to, existing programs, and the disestablishment of programs. Moreover, it provides a forum to facilitate information flow and debate within the University and between the senior executive officers of the University and the wider academic community, especially about academic policy matters. It operates under the Australian National University (Academic Board) Statute 2017, with the assistance of the following specialist committees including:

  • Academic Quality Assurance Committee
  • Teaching and Learning Development Committee
  • University Research Committee.

In addition to key business items, the Board agendas during 2019 also incorporated regular Hot Topics and Poll Question discussions to facilitate engagement in strategic planning, academic due-diligence and policy development. Topics considered during the year included:

  • alignment of digitalisation projects with academic needs and priorities
  • innovations in lecture delivery and mandating attendance
  • quality of international student education at ANU
  • the meaning of freedom of expression at the ANU
  • research performance of ANU.

Key matters discussed at each Board meeting are summarised in regular Academic Board e-newsletters following each meeting, which are published on the University website and communicated to Council.

In February 2019, a report was presented by Professor Hilary Winchester, a consultant engaged to review the ANU Academic Governance as measured against the requirements of the Higher Education Standards Framework (HESF). The review provided an important opportunity for the University to reflect on its academic governance structures and processes. At its 3 October meeting, Council accepted the University’s consolidated response as shaped by the Academic Board and the Senior Management Group (which, overall, agreed with several recommendations, and did not agree with, or simply noted, others). Following this, the University began implementing agreed recommendations – one significant outcome being that the Chair, Academic Board would now be seated at the meeting table as a non-voting member of the Council.

During 2019, the creation of a University-wide Statement on Freedom of Expression was a key achievement for the Board, and served in part to respond to the French Report on Freedom of Speech on University Campuses.

Professor Jacqueline Lo continued as Chair during 2019.