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‘Friend or foe?’ : Is learning and teaching policy mainstream or marginal?
A plethora of regulatory frameworks—including the Australian Universities Quality Agency (AUQA), Australian Quality Framework (AQF), Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA), and Commonwealth and State laws and regulations—permeates all aspects of Australian higher education institutions and their activities. As a result,working with, and within, framing policy, administrative and management structures is increasingly both expected and necessary in the contemporary academic environment. Within the Australian university, the area of learning and teaching is core business for both faculties and their staff, and the divisions that support this activity. Many disciplines, including those in the creative arts, extol the strength of their learning and teaching, especially the engagement of their students and the expertise of their staff in this area. At the same time, various faculty management positions, such as Associate Deans of Learning and Teaching and Heads of School, have in their position descriptions a requirement to show leadership in learning and teaching. In this, a key responsibility is to promulgate and implement learning and teaching policy and processes to faculty staff, both academic and administrative. Yet these policies and procedures are often perceived by university staff (including some managers) as being both limited and limiting. In this, university learning and teaching policies and regulatory procedures are often understood as marginal, an annoying distraction from the core business of the faculty and/or discipline area. This paper explores a different point of view. It posits how working with, and through, these policies and processes can be collaborative and inclusive and to the benefit of individuals and disciplines.