A two-year review of course structures at The University of Western Australia has recommended exciting and wide ranging change.
The recommendations include a simple and flexible framework for undergraduate courses with emphasis on the development of a broader knowledge base as well as comprehensive research and communications skills, and a community service component.
They also propose a reshaping of the relationship between undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, with courses designed to meet continuing professional accreditation requirements offered at a postgraduate level.
In line with UWA's mission as a research intensive university, all UWA degrees, undergraduate and postgraduate, will have research skill development and inquiry-based learning as a hallmark.
UWA's Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education) Professor Don Markwell, who has led the review's extensive consultation and feedback process, said that if the recommendations were adopted, UWA would implement a distinctive set of reforms that integrate its strengths as a research-intensive institution with its commitment to high-quality student-centred teaching.
"The changes are designed to ensure that UWA graduates will be educated, enquiring, eloquent and engaged," Professor Markwell said.
"We understand that students need to be equipped for the world of tomorrow which includes a breadth of knowledge as well as depth. This is why we have included ‘broadening units' along with requirements to develop research skills and communications skills.
"We also recognise the benefits to our students of community engagement beyond the University which will be an important part of the learning experience through ‘service learning' with a not-for-profit organisation.
"For almost a century, The University of Western Australia has been distinguished by the high quality of its courses. The recommended Future Framework aims to ensure the University provides for the educational needs of future students and those of the wider community while reinforcing UWA's international reputation for excellence," he said.
The report and its recommendations will be considered by the University community and its governing body, Senate, with a final decision expected in the next few months.
There will be no impact on students who are currently enrolled or those enrolling in at least 2009, 2010 and 2011, nor any effect on the outcome of any courses entered into in those years.
Under the recommendations:
- Instead of what is sometimes seen as a bewildering variety of degrees currently offered, there will be five three-year undergraduate courses, with a 4th (Hons) year available - Bachelor of Arts; Bachelor of Commerce; Bachelor of Design; Bachelor of Health; Bachelor of Science. All fields of study that UWA covers at present will continue to be available, though in different forms.
- A new four-year Bachelor of Philosophy (Honours) degree will be available to outstanding students in any discipline.
- Courses designed for professional accreditation will normally be offered only at postgraduate level.
- Combined Bachelor courses (double degrees) will be replaced by sequential undergraduate and postgraduate pathways.
The new Bachelor of Philosophy will be open to students with a TER of at least 98 or by very high performance in the first year of undergraduate study. It will include an intensive research focus and study abroad.
The review, which produced a discussion paper (2006) and an options paper outlining a range of possibilities (2007), considered 260 submissions and consulted a wide range of stakeholders within and outside UWA as well as other expert advice from interstate and overseas.
The review report can be found at: www.coursestructuresreview.uwa.edu.au
Professor Don Markwell (+61 8) 6488 1717
Janine MacDonald (UWA Public Affairs) (+61 8) 6488 5563 / 0432 637716