The College Representatives Council (CRC) last Wednesday discussed ANU’s grading system, changes to some College of Arts and Social Sciences (CASS) programs, and a possible return to in-person classes in Semester Two. The council meets four times a semester to report on how they have supported and advocated for students in their College.
The meeting opened with reports from ANUSA executive members. General-Secretary Ben Yates focused attention on the ANU’s marking philosophy. At the Executive Quality Assurance meeting, Yates reported, two competing methods of marking were debated; to mark to a bell-curve or to an external quality standard.
The ANU is concerned about grade creep, i.e. that it has become easier to earn higher grades; especially during COVID-19, when students’ grades rose. According to Yates, the meeting leant in favour of benchmarked marking, using external quality standards to measure a high distinction, distinction, credit etc. Ultimately, colleges still set their own marking methods.
Representatives flagged that CASS is looking to merge some of its degrees, especially in the fine arts. The CASS representative gave the hypothetical example of how specific degrees, such as a Design degree, being changed into a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Design.
Vice-President Chido Nyakeungama, asked if this was the precursor to more course cuts. Nyakeungama argued that course merging has been a course-cutting strategy of colleges in the past and that any sort of change to a program should be questioned on this basis.
Finally, the College of Business and Economics (CBE) representatives stated that they had been told by CBE that the entire university was preparing for a return to all in-person classes with online examinations in Semester 2. Isha Singhal, one of the representatives, stated that students with COVID-19 would have to manage it themselves because, according to the college, people got sick before the pandemic.
Nyakeungama was sceptical of this, claiming that the ANU will not announce any policy decision until around two weeks before the semester starts.
According to a spokesperson for the University, “…there is no change to our plans for next semester…” with in-person classes on campus continuing and “online options where required.”
Many of the items of discussion in the CRC will continue to develop throughout the year. Woroni will keep you updated. The next CRC will be announced soon.
Editor’s note (27/4): An earlier version of this article stated that “The CASS representative suggested this could mean changing a Bachelor of Design, for example, into a Bachelor of Arts Majoring in Design.” This article has since been amended to make it clearer that this was a hypothetical example. We apologise for this error.