OERu/Planning/OERu Academic board draft terms of reference

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Meeting Notes

  • Each institution has its own definition of terms (e.g. programme, course, subject, etc.) - these variations need to be mapped to an ontology to help partners and learners understand what each institution means when it uses these terms.
  • OERu "board" has a coordinating role, not an approval capacity. Helping to avoid duplication of effort among partners (Rhiannon and Brenda)
  • The OERu "board" expressly does not challenge the autonomy of individual - rename it a Programme Advisory Group, or perhaps just Advisory Group (to avoid unnecessarily constraining the group)
  • Need to think about marketing aspects - do we need to do market research, or is there little enough risk to make courses available and see what works?
  • Noted need to look after interests of students in offering programmes - can't leave them stranded....
  • Don't require full consensus - instead encourage taking chances: focus on drawing in partners by seeing other partners "making money".
  • Co-opetition - the OERu Programme Advisory Group can act as coordinator.
  • both encouraging increased efficiency in delivery high-volume courses, as well as supporting "long tail" of courses which traditionally have low enrolment.
  • we need a way of capturing "lore" of the group for the benefit of new participants (we need "bards" who will distil the lore and tell stories)

Points of difference for network

  • high-availability tutorial services (global, "follow the sun" to provide comprehensive tutorial services, for example)
  • implicit value of international collaboration
  • ability of network to benefit rapidly from any successful initiative by any individual partner, and partners will know how to participate and leverage opportunities
  • participation is optional, based on enlightened self-interest
  • there is an advantage (with regard to risk and ongoing costs) of contributing to/drawing from the network's resources

Additional notes - Andrew Van

  • Not an Academic Board
  • Really about guidance as to where priorities should go and avoiding duplication of effort
  • Focussed more at program (degree/award) level than at course (module/subject) level
  • Could help institutions develop a model - more like academic support and coordination group
  • Program Advisory Group as probable name
  • Needs really to think about marketing aspects - is there really a demand for the product?
  • Opportunities for OERu to broker international collaboration cheaply which could be an attractive product
  • Noted need to look after interests of students in offering programs - can’t leave them stranded
  • Need to guide towards things that work and do wash their own face financially

Role of the Academic Board

The Academic Board has the principal responsibility to guide the assembly of a coherent programme of study for OERu learners and to maintain the highest quality standards for the OERu's independent study courses.

A foundational principle of the OERu collaboration is that partner institutes retain decision-making autonomy over all aspects of assessment and credit transfer recognition of OERu courses towards their own qualifications. The purpose of Academic Board is to facilitate coordination to maximise the potential for transfer credit within OERu partner's existing institutional policies using a transparent consultation process.

To be confident that the OERu guidelines and processes properly sustain academic quality of the OERu programme of study, the Board monitors implementation through reviews, which are formative and collegial. The aim is to provide constructive feedback on the quality of OERu courses and to encourage continuous improvement in open design and curriculum development.

The OERu operates a model of distributed participation recognising that much of its work is carried out by contributions from staff at partner institutions and community volunteers.

The Academic Board reports to the OERu Council of Chief Executive Officers.


  1. To advise the OERu Council of Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) on academic matters relating to the OERu curriculum, credit transfer and quality.
  2. To develop appropriate academic policies and guidelines for the effective operation of the Academic Board through open consultation.
  3. To report on academic matters of the OERu to the respective academic bodies of partner institutes via nominated ordinary members.
  4. To share best practice in open design and open educational practices derived from OERu operations for the benefit of partner institutes.

Powers of Academic Board

No powers have been delegated to Academic Board by the OERu partner institutions. The OERu Council of Chief Executive officers has delegated authority to Academic Board to advise the Council of CEOs on academic matters relating to curriculum, quality, open educational practices, credit transfer and credit accumulation of OERu courses.

Membership and composition

  1. The Chair is designated by the OERu Council of Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) on an annual basis.
  2. The Deputy Chair is determined by members of the Executive Committee.
  3. The Executive Committee.
  4. Ordinary members.

Executive Committee of Academic Board


The purpose of the Executive Committee is to oversee the administration of and preparation for meetings of the Academic Board. The Executive Committee will act in good faith when advising on decisions to be tabled at the OERu Council of Chief Executive Officers where general consensus from the Board is not clear.

Members of the Executive Committee

The Executive Committee comprises:

  1. The Chair of Academic Board
  2. The Deputy Chair of Academic Board
  3. The Chair of the OERu Management Committee
  4. Registrars (or nominee) from two partner institutions who have a designated OERu qualifications
  5. Chair of the OERu Standing Committee for Credit transfer
  6. Chair of the OERu Quality Committee
  7. Representative from the Board of Directors of the OER Foundation
  8. Two ordinary members
  9. Up to three co-opted ex officio members without voting rights where specialist advice is required.

Ordinary members


The purpose of ordinary members is to serve as an academic liaison conduit between the OERu and the respective partner institute. Ordinary members provide advice and counsel to the OERu Academic Board and report back on OERu developments to the equivalent academic body at the partner institute.

Nomination of ordinary members

The Vice Chancellor, Principal or Chief Executive Officer of the OERu partner institute shall nominate one representative from their respective Academic Board, Senate or Academic Committee to serve as ordinary member. In cases where a member of the partner institute is an existing Chair of one of the OERu working groups serving on the Executive Committee, the institute may nominate an alternative ordinary member for the OERu Academic Board.


Members of the Board serve a two-year term. Members of the Board may be nominated to serve successive terms.


Any officer or agent appointed by the Council of CEOs may be removed by the Council, whenever in its judgement, the best interests of the Council would be served thereby.

In case of misconduct, or when the Board considers it in the best interests of the OERu collaboration, a member may be removed from office by 75% supermajority vote of the full membership of the Board.

In the unlikely event of a call to remove an officer or member from the Board, notice will be served upon the person concerned by the Chair or Deputy-Chair of the Board, and a hearing followed by a defence will be convened via a process determined by the Executive Committee.


Any Ordinary Member may resign at any time by giving written notice to the Chair of the Board or the Deputy-chair and the Vice-Chancellor, Principal or Chief Executive of the partner institute.

The Chair of Academic Board may resign at any time by giving written notice to the Deputy Chair or member of the Executive Council and the Chair or one of the Vice-Chairs of the OERu Council of CEOs.

Members of the Executive Committee may resign at any time by giving written notice to the Chair of Board or the Deputy-chair and their respective constituencies.

Any such resignation shall take effect at the time specified therein, or, if the time not be specified therein, upon its acceptance by the Board.


Any vacancy occurring in Academic Board may be filled by an affirmative vote from the Executive Committee in consultation with the respective constituency until such time that the vacancy is filled by the procedures outlined in these terms of reference.

Standing committees

The Academic Board is assisted in its operations by:

  1. The Standing Committee for Credit Transfer
  2. The OERu Quality Committee (to be determined)


Notice of meetings of the Board

Notice of any meeting shall be given at least ten (10) days before the meeting by written notice delivered via registered email address to each member of the Board. In the case of emergency, the Chair of the Board or the Deputy-chair shall prescribe a shorter notice by communicating to each Council member at his/her registered email address.

Frequency of meetings of the Board

The Board shall meet at least annually prior to the meeting of the OERu Council of Chief Executive Officers. Additional meetings may be scheduled if required.

Asynchronous meetings of the Board

Given the distributed nature of the OERu network, meetings will be conducted asynchronously using the Loomio platform which includes discussion forums and voting mechanisms. Asynchronous meetings are normally scheduled for a period of 10 to 15 working days.

Synchronous online meetings

From time to time, the Board may schedule synchronous online meetings to augment discussion. Where possible, these meetings will be scheduled to accommodate multiple time zones. Meetings will be recorded and shared transparently. Participants will have the opportunity to contribute asynchronously to these discussions.

Transparent public record of meetings and decisions

The agendas and meeting reports will be published transparently on WikiEducator.

Voting means

Voting on all matters by members of the Board will normally be conducted using the Loomio platform but may also be conducted by mail, electronic mail, facsimile transmission, chat software, video conferencing, wiki software, or other similar verifiable means. Proxy voting shall not be allowed.

Presumption of assent

A member, who participates at a duly scheduled meeting of Academic Board at which action on any matter is taken, shall be presumed to have assented to the action taken, unless he/she votes against such action or abstains from voting in respect thereto because of an asserted conflict of interest.

Constructive presence at a meeting

A member of the Board may participate in a meeting by means of a conference telephone or online, by means of which all persons participating in the meeting can communicate with each other at the same time or within the time frames stipulated for an asynchronous meeting. Participating by such means shall be deemed presence in person for the duration of such meetings.

Action without a meeting

Consistent with the consent procedures described herein, any action required by law may be taken without a meeting.

Decision-making model

The OERu academic board will use a rough consensus model[1]. Drawing on a collegial approach, it is based on the sense of the group which means that decisions are not necessarily determined on the basis of volume or persistence, but rather on a more general sense of agreement. In practice:

  1. All meeting discussions are conducted openly and transparently.
  2. The Board focuses on working solutions that can be implemented.
  3. The consensus decision-making process is guided by those attending meetings of the Board.
  4. In cases where consensus is hard to achieve, the Executive Committee will act in good faith to progress the decisions of the Academic Board.

Duties and responsibilities of the Academic Board members

Duties of the office bearers

  1. The duties of the Chair are to:
    1. Call meetings of the Board as provided in these terms of reference
    2. Prepare and publish agendas in WikiEducator through and open consultative process
    3. Preside over meetings of the Board
    4. Call meetings of the Executive Committee
    5. Preside over meetings of the Executive Committee
    6. Prepare and publish collaboratively reports of meetings of the Board and Executive Committee on WikiEducator
  2. The Deputy Chair will perform the duties of the Chair when the Chair is unable to perform these duties.

Duties of members of the Board

Each member of the Board has the duty to:

  1. Participate in meetings of the Board
  2. Act in what the Member considers to be in the best interests of the OERu and the partner institute's engagement in the partnership.
  3. Consult with respective constituencies and stakeholder groups at the partner institute regarding academic matters associated with the OERu that are relevant to these institutional groupings.
  4. Report back, at least once a year, to the relevant academic body the ordinary member represents as appointed by the Vice-Chancellor, Principal or Chief Executive Officer of the respective partner institute.



These terms of reference may be altered, amended or repealed by majority vote of the OERu Council of CEOs at any regular or special meeting provided that at least ten days written notice is given of intention to alter, amend or repeal any aspect of these terms of reference at such meeting provided adequate evidence of due consultation with the OERu community of the ammendment(s) is provided to the Council.

Delivery of notice

Whenever any notice is required by this policy, it shall be deemed to be sufficient if mailed to the last known email address of the member.


The development of the OERu Academic Board guidelines has been informed by the following sources:

  1. Academic Affairs Committee, Athabasca University
  2. Academic Board Policy, Otago Polytechnic
  3. Planning Council Open Learning, Thompson Rivers University (see Bylaws)
  4. Academic Board, University of Sydney.
  5. Academic Board, University of Southern Queensland


  1. The consensus model is based on the guidelines used by the Internet Engineering Taskforce