New academic withdrawal procedure set to ‘out’ students with disabilities
Under a new procedure for academic withdrawals from courses, applications made after the census and academic withdrawal dates, but prior to the final day of teaching, will elicit an ‘Academic Withdrawal’ grade on students’ academic transcripts. A second ‘Permitted Withdrawal’ grade will apply to all successful post-census date withdrawals. While the new process will now allow students to withdraw from courses before the end of the teaching period without affecting WAMs, the attempted course will count towards academic standing calculations and be visible on academic transcripts.
Concerns have been raised regarding the impact of this policy on students with disabilities, many of whom are forced to withdraw from courses after the census date, and will now have these courses highlighted on their academic transcripts as ‘Permitted Withdrawals’. It is anticipated that this policy will effectively amount to a forced ‘outing’ of students with disabilities, particularly with regard to employment.
Tharunka understands that multiple complaints by students with disabilities have been made as to the visibility of multiple Permitted Withdrawals on their transcripts, which will likely give rise to speculation or outright questioning as to the nature of any disability causing the late withdrawals from courses.
The new procedure is intended to bring UNSW in line with other Group of Eight universities in order to reduce the number of academic withdrawal applications received, and will be trialled for one year before being subject to review.
University releases SSAF expenditure areas
UNSW has indicated areas in which it allocated expenditure from the Student Services and Amenities Fee (SSAF) in response to consultations with student leaders, citing the introduction of new retail facilities and spending on study spaces as its main fulfilment of student requests regarding SSAF expenditure.
According to the University, part of the $6.3 million in SSAF revenue received by UNSW in 2012 was spent on introducing three microwave banks and an IGA supermarket on campus, transferring sporting clubs under the Arc banner, increasing Arc funding to $3.2 million per year, and opening new retail outlets on campus, such as Subway and Max Brenner. The University has also pledged not to decrease funding to medical services, mental health, Arc, and the Student Equity and Disability Unit (SEADU) from 2013 onwards.
As per SSAF legislation, UNSW is required to consult with students regarding expenditure of the $273 per student fee.
SRC appoints new Welfare Officer
Following the resignation of SRC Welfare Officer, Dean Mattar, the SRC has appointed Brendan Byron as Mattar’s replacement. According to regulations, in the event of a resignation less than six months into an SRC Office Bearer’s term, the next highest polling candidate from the election will be appointed in their place.
Byron, who ran on the Stand Up! ticket associated with the Labor right faction on campus, was previously NSW Welfare Officer for the National Union of Students in 2013. Stand Up! received 25% of the student vote during the 2013 SRC election.
The Curious Case of the Backflipping Michael Spence
In the wake of Tharunka reporting on the Group of Eight (Go8) universities pushing to deregulate fees in a number of popular courses (Vol. 60, No. 1), University of Sydney undergraduate Senate Fellow, Patrick Massarani, told the Sydney University SRC that Vice-Chancellor, Dr Michael Spence, had been unaware of the Go8 submission. It is said that Spence was embarrassed by the proposal to the Abbott government’s review of the demand-driven funding system for public universities, and blames known fan of fee deregulation, UNSW Vice-Chancellor Fred Hilmer, for the submission.
However, in the Sydney University proposal personally addressed from Spence, and submitted on the same date as the Go8 submission on 16 December 2013, Spence stated the Sydney University submission was intended to “support and complement” the Go8 submission. Indeed, as late as February 2014, Spence told The Australian that he hoped the government’s review of the demand-driven system would clarify a system that underfunds each student place but does not allow universities to increase fees.
So which will it be, Spence?
Attorney-General seeks UNSW submission on consent laws
The office of the NSW Attorney General has reached out to the UNSW SRC Women’s Department to make a submission regarding the Attorney General’s review into the “freely and voluntarily” consent provisions contained in section 61HA of the Crimes Act 1900, which currently apply to sexual assault and aggravated sexual assault. The submission will address the review’s recommendation that the section 61HA definition of consent be expanded to apply to other sexual offences in the Crimes Act for which a lack of consent must currently be proved by victims.
Students interested in contributing to the UNSW submission are encouraged to contact the SRC Women’s Officer, Olga Lisinska, at email@example.com.