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Academic board

March 2006
by Peter Cardwell

Coursework Program Approval Manual

Academic Board approved in principle a revised Coursework Program Approval Manual. The revisions are designed to reduce and simplify the level of work required in the preparation for program approval, as well as the amount of documentation, while retaining the integrity of the process. Major amendments include: a refocusing of curriculum development and assessment around Graduate Qualities; separating curriculum development and the business case from program development proposals into two documents; requiring a number of priority curriculum areas, such as Indigenous perspectives, to be addressed; clarifying the extent of involvement of external stakeholders; and strengthening the business case, while at the same time requiring similar business case processes for both onshore and transnational programs.

South Australian Certificate of Education (SACE) Review

The Board considered the SACE Review Report released during the recent state election. The Acting Pro Vice Chancellor (Academic), Emeritus Professor Ken Atkins, spoke from a paper he had prepared, which outlined the basic structure and recommendations arising from the review.

In its submission to the review the University stated its conviction that one of the prime purposes of SACE should be preparation for transition to higher education.The Board believes that the review’s recommendations do not further this aim. Similarly, in its submission, the University strongly supported the introduction of a new English subject as a required SACE Stage 2 subject, similar to the requirement in other states and territories, which would not be based on literary study but on an understanding of how the language is constructed and the capacity to use it effectively. The review also failed to address this issue.

Members expressed concerns that the recommendations from the review, if implemented, will militate against the adequate preparation of students for entry into university and social mobility. The point was also made that currently SACE is a successful international qualification, but the direction outlined in the review would see this advantage lost. It was agreed that Academic Board will more closely consider the SACE Review at its May meeting. In addition, Professor Alan Reid, a member of the SACE Review Panel, will deliver a special presentation at the meeting to which all staff will be invited.

Indigenous Education and Training

The Pro Vice Chancellor (Education, Arts and Social Sciences), Professor Michael Rowan, introduced a paper prepared to inform Academic Board on the University’s position in Indigenous education and training, which was based on the DEST National Report to Parliament on Indigenous Education and Training.

In 2004, the number of Indigenous students awarded SACE in the state was 92, which represented a steady increase on previous years. However, Indigenous retention rates in South Australia are generally lower than corresponding national figures.

The University of South Australia has for many years enrolled a higher percentage of Indigenous students than the other two universities in the state. Similarly, the performance of the University is consistently above both the state equity indicator of 1.2 per cent, as well as state performance in all reported areas.

While there has been a significant decline in the proportion of Indigenous commencing students in South Australia and nationally, the University’s figures reflect a sound maintenance of Indigenous commencing student numbers.

The University’s retention rate for Indigenous students is 78 per cent, which has been fairly consistent over the period 1997-2004, and is above the national average.

Program Development

The following new program proposals were approved from the Division of IT, Engineering and the Environment: Bachelor of Built Environment; Bachelor of Sustainable Environments.