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New directions

The broadening of what was in essence the Dean’s advisory group was not the only change to occur. An entirely new committee was introduced in the early 1990s – the Undergraduate Affairs Committee. This new committee became necessary after the introduction of the pass by unit, semesterised system. While the pass by unit system was without doubt a more flexible approach to undergraduate studies, it translated to a much higher workload in terms of course administration. Previously, a complex formula, named after Faculty staff member Ed Cherry who devised it, was applied to the results of borderline students at the end of the year to determine whether those with a fail result could be granted conceded passes and allowed to proceed to the next year level or should be required to repeat the year - with or without exemptions.

As all undergraduate student issues were handled by the FBEC and then ratified by the Faculty Board, a large course progression meeting would be held at the conclusion of second semester when results were finalised. These FBEC meetings were often day-long affairs as the committee members applied the Cherry Formula, and deliberated over what exemptions would be granted to those who, in accordance with the formula, were to be required to repeat the year. While the introduction of a unitised course structure, which allowed students to proceed at their own pace subject to satisfying unit prerequisites, removed the need for these long end-of-year meetings, it created a substantial work-load of student-related matters in need of resolution throughout the year, and it was inappropriate for the Dean and the heads, who comprised the FBEC, to be spending long hours dealing with such matters. It was time for a specialist committee.

So the Undergraduate Affairs Committee (UAC) was created in the early 1990s, and it joined the Graduate Affairs Committee as a standing committee of the Faculty Board. With the creation of the UAC the Faculty Board Executive Committee no longer had to deal with any individual student matters for the Graduate Affairs Committee that had been created in the early 1970s dealt with issues relating to postgraduate coursework and research students, and the Undergraduate Affairs Committee dealt with undergraduate issues. Both reported back to the Faculty Board.

The establishment of the Heads of Departments and Schools and the creation of the Undergraduate Affairs Committee effectively sidelined the FBEC. There was no longer a need for it to meet in between Faculty Board meetings to discuss sensitive student related issues as these activities now came under the GAC and UAC. Increasingly standing committees of the Faculty Board, like the GAC and UAC, were being created to deal with specialist issues as the activities of the Faculty continued to diversify. Meetings of the FBEC went from monthly, to once or twice a year on a needs basis when the Faculty Board was unable to meet.