Information about the Council and the Academic Senate of the University of Newcastle, Australia

Governing bodies

University Council

The University's principal governing body is the Council, comprising up to 16 members. It is responsible for the governance of the University, acts in its best interest, drives performance through strategy and stewardship, provides overall strategic guidance and oversees senior management in carrying out that strategic direction.

Council operates in accordance with the University of Newcastle Act 1989 (the Act) and the University of Newcastle By-law 2005 (the By-law), which set out the powers and functions of the University and how these must be performed.  

You can learn more about the role and responsibilities of the Council and its members in the University Council Charter. This charter plays an important role in the University's governance framework. The Charter is supported by a number of other documents which you can read more about online via the Council Handbook.

Council membership and its committees

Procedures for the appointment and election of members are prescribed under the By-law.

This includes three official members, nine appointed members (two members appointed by the Minister and seven members appointed by the Council) and four elected members. The Council is also required to ensure that among its members there is a diverse range of skills and experience, with emphasis on financial and commercial expertise.

Under the Act, Council has the authority to establish committees to assist in the exercise of its functions. There are six standing Committees of Council:

The Audit Subcommittee is established by Council and among the membership of the Finance and Audit Committee for the primary purpose of assisting the Council in:

  • overseeing the internal auditor's independence, the performance of the University's internal auditor and the internal audit function across the whole scope of the University business; and
  • overseeing the University's systems of disclosure controls and procedures, internal controls over financial reporting, internal controls over the compliance obligations of the University, and compliance with ethical standards adopted by the University.

The primary purpose of the Chancellor's Committee is to support the Chancellor on matters of particular concern, including but not limited to:

  • the appointment, review and remuneration of senior staff, including the Vice-Chancellor;
  • matters of reputation of the University and matters affecting the efficient running of University business.

The Controlled and Associated Entities Committee is established by and among the Council for the primary purpose of assisting the Council in:

  • overseeing the application of the Governance Framework for Controlled Entities;
  • overseeing the application of the Commercial Activities Guidelines as they relate to Controlled Entities or Associated Entities; and
  • approve and monitor systems of control and accountability relating to controlled entities and commercial activities.

The Finance and Audit Committee is established by and among the Council for the primary purpose of assisting the Council in:

  • overseeing the integrity of the University's financial statements, the University's accounting and financial reporting processes and financial statement audits;
  • overseeing the University's compliance with finance related legal and regulatory requirements.

The Nominations and Legislation Committee is established by and among the Council for the primary purpose of:

  • assisting the Council in setting the tone for the expectations of the Council for governance matters;
  • assisting the Council in overseeing statutory and regulatory compliance activities of the University;
  • elections processes for Council, membership of governing bodies; and
  • assisting the Council in enhancing the reputation of the University by overseeing the standards and expectations of senior and honorary appointments.

The Risk Committee is established by and among the Council for the primary purpose of assisting Council in:

  • assisting Council in setting and reviewing the assessment of risk appetite in the context of a risk management framework;
  • identifying risks that are material to the achievement of the University's strategic plans;
  • evaluating the effectiveness of risk management processes;
  • facilitating assurance that risk exposures are being managed appropriately;
  • facilitating a shared understanding between the Council members of their obligations in relation to risk management; and
  • assisting each Council member understand their obligations to collectively and individually assure themselves of the soundness of the system of risk oversight.

The Strategic Development Committee is established by and among the Council for the primary purpose of assisting Council in:

  • overseeing the University strategy, including strategy for projects;
  • scanning the environment in which strategic determinations are made;
  • long term environmental scanning to determine strategic direction;
  • oversight of the virtual and physical capital, and its use and application to achievement of strategic objectives;
  • oversight of the Education, Research & Innovation, and Future Workforce strategic integration;
  • conducting strategic assessments; and
  • strategic commercial activities of the University and its controlled entities, including oversight of the commercial activities guidelines, as it relates to strategic decisions.

University Council report templates

The Council meets regularly and meeting agendas include matters that require Council's attention and decision. Papers are prepared for Council's consideration in advance of these meetings. In some cases management will be invited to attend meetings to present on relevant items.

Council papers should be concise standalone documents that provide the information that the Council requires to fully understand the issues being raised and, where required, to make an appropriately informed decision that meets the needs of the University.

You can find the agreed template for papers below. It is important to note that the information needs of management and the Council are quite different. Council papers require context and succinct coverage of the key elements of strategy, risk, financial value and operational impact. The Council will source management reports from the VC where greater detail may be required. Management should avoid re-working or refashioning management committee reports for Council and instead use the template below as a fresh starting point to ensure Council receives the information it needs.

Please use the following templates when submitting a report to Council or Council Committee:

  • Council Committee One-Page Report Template
    Use this template for reports that are routinely provided for noting by the committee or for infrequent reports that are required to be provided on short notice, in response to factors generally outside the control of the University. 

The Council is served by the University Secretariat, and demonstrates a commitment to good governance practices (PDF 126KB). If you require further information, the Council Services and Chancellery Secretariat team can assist.

Academic Senate

The Academic Senate is the primary forum for debate on academic issues in the University and has a major role in academic quality assurance processes. It is the principal advisory committee to the Council on academic matters. You can learn more here.