Bachelor of Software Engineering To Be Disestablished
By Ali El-Zein
The disestablishment of the Bachelor of Software Engineering has been confirmed at College Representative Council 1 by College of Engineering and Computer Science (CECS) representatives. Intake will be ceasing at the end of 2021 and a teach out plan has been confirmed.
The disestablishment of the degree was originally proposed in CECS’ Managing Change Proposal released in October 2020, and the decision was confirmed during CECS’ recent Education Committee meeting. The disestablishment of the degree is one of the various proposed spending reductions put forward in the Change Proposal – others include a proposed 50% “reduction in salary and non-salary costs”, and a net reduction of 21 positions across the college.
CECS representative Sandy Ma was unable to comment on the relationship between the proposed cost-cutting and the disestablishment of the degree, as she was “unaware and uninformed about any possible link”.
Bachelor of Software Engineering students were first directly made aware of the possible disestablishment in a 3 November email from CECS student administration. While the email indicated that no final decisions had been made, it assured students that a teach out plan would be provided.
Ma told Observer that despite early concern and confusion, current students will be able to complete their degree “with minimal obstruction”. She also indicated that the College is looking to introduce a software engineering specialisation, subject to formal approval.
Observer spoke to a second year software engineering student who, due to a disability, studies part-time. She said she had hoped that information about which courses will be running, and how the teach out plan takes into account part-time students, would be “more accessible” to affected students.
Observer also spoke to Peter Chen, a third year software engineering student, who reiterated this frustration regarding a lack of accessible information relating to the future of software engineering courses.
A report by 2020 CECS representatives Kriti Tripathi and Sophie Burgess, submitted to Club Representative Council 8, included a survey which similarly stated that students were dissatisfied with “the poor communication of plans” surrounding the draft proposal for the disestablishment of the degree. An ANU spokesperson stated that all current Bachelor of Software Engineering students have been “contacted and informed” about their degree, and that the university is continuing “to communicate with students”.
Both students Observer spoke to emphasised the quality of ANU’s software engineering degree in relation to its courses – which offer valuable hands-on industry experience. Courses such as COMP3500 require students to develop nontrivial software for a government, industry or university client. According to Chen, this real-world experience is “vital to have in the software engineering field”. Chen stated that, should these courses be cut, he believes that it would “definitely make ANU less appealing to those who want to work in the field [rather than in research]”.
An ANU spokesperson told Observer that “no courses have been cut” and plans for the degree will be developed in “close consultation of stakeholders, especially students”. Ma said that students “should find comfort” in the fact that, in the event of course discontinuations, “there will be suitable alternatives arranged”. Ma continued to state that if alternatives cannot be arranged, she and her fellow representative Swatantra Roy would advocate for necessary actions to ensure student satisfaction.
Graphics by Joseph Oh
Nathan Bow contributed to reporting
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