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May 24, 2015 | by  | in News | [ssba]

University earns Master’s in Haste

Academic Committee has been prompted to re-examine its terms of reference in the wake of the University’s controversial approval of new Master’s programmes.

At an Academic Committee meeting in April, new 180-point Master’s programmes were “endorsed for forwarding” to Academic Board, which sits above Academic Committee and rubber-stamps its proposals.

However, nobody seemed to know what “endorsed for forwarding” meant. Members of Academic Board were led to believe that Academic Committee had approved the programmes in substance, but two of them—the Master’s of Engineering Practice and the Master’s of Software Development—had in fact been the subject of heated and unresolved debate at Academic Committee.

Academic Board ultimately approved the proposals, but student reps accused University management of misleading the body.

VUWSA Academic Vice-President Jonathan Gee, who sits on both Academic Committee and Academic Board, said the fiasco had led to some soul-searching at the most recent Academic Committee meeting, held on 18 May.

Academic Committee has virtually no formal processes and no standing orders, and its terms of reference have little substantive content.

The body is continuing to hear proposals for new 180-point Masters’ programmes, including preliminary proposals for a Master’s in Management and a Master’s in Marketing. Like the controversial Master’s of Software Development, neither would require prior knowledge of the field.

Gee expressed concern at the “proliferation” of these programmes at Victoria before the University had developed a settled policy on the programmes.

“The concern is that they’re putting forward these one-year, 180-point conversion Masters’ programmes… yet the working party looking into 180-point Masters’ is still examining the role of conversion Masters’ at the University,” he said.

“We’re going a bit too fast at this stage.”

The Committee’s convenor, Allison Kirkman, is currently undertaking a review of Academic Committee in light of the recent Academic Audit. The Audit recommended that Committee be given “a higher level of responsibility for monitoring the consistency of academic quality and outcomes in courses and programmes”.

This article was amended on 26 May 2015.

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