The University of Newcastle's Council met on Friday 10 July 2009 at the Callaghan campus. This communiqué provides information about key matters considered by the Council.
Council's Self-Review of Performance
The Council discussed the results of its recently conducted self-review of performance. The self-review consisted of surveys about the activities of Council and its committees as well as individual members' interviews with the Chancellor.
Council members generally rated the overall effectiveness of Council and its standing committees as high although there was recognition that the committee-level processes for induction, review and continuous improvement needed more attention. Suggestions to further improve the Council's performance will be addressed progressively by the Chancellor with assistance from the University Secretary.
Recommendations from External Review of Academic Senate
Following extensive consultation across the University, the Council considered feedback on the recommendations presented in the Report on the External Review of Academic Senate. The Council was pleased that at the end of the consultation process, a strong consensus had emerged from the academic community.
Consistent with the feedback jointly presented by the President of Academic Senate and Vice-Chancellor, the Council adopted 22 of the report's recommendations, rejected two recommendations and referred four recommendations for further consideration by a working party. The working party will consist of the President of Academic Senate and the Vice-Chancellor as co-chairs, the Deputy President of Academic Senate and the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic and Global Relations).
Recommendations that were rejected related to President's membership of Executive Committee (EC) and term of office - the Council agreed that the President should remain a member of EC and that the term of office should be three years.
Matters referred to the working party related to membership of the Academic Senate, the composition of the Academic Senate's sub-committees and the nature of the appointment of the President and Deputy(ies).
After deliberation, the Council determined that the President will be elected by the Academic Senate on the understanding that the membership of the Academic Senate must have a majority of elected members.
An implementation plan, addressing actions to be taken against all recommendations, will be developed by the working party for approval by the Council at its August meeting.
Progress Report on City Campus Development
The Vice-Chancellor updated the Council following the recent release of the Newcastle City Centre Renewal Report by the NSW Government. The Vice-Chancellor advised the Council that there is strong local support for the concept of a University of Newcastle city campus and he reiterated that significant external funding is critical to the project's progression.
Strategic Presentation: Capital Planning Issues
Dr Sue Gould, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Services), gave a presentation to the Council on capital planning issues. The strategic presentation provided an overview of the major components of the University's capital expenditure budget - equipment, information technology and buildings. Challenges in seeking funding, balancing priorities and managing assets were discussed in the context of the Council's responsibility for the long-term promotion of the unique characteristics of the University's campuses.
NSW Government Report on Governance of NSW Universities
The Council discussed and noted the recommendations arising from the NSW Legislative Council's report on Governance of NSW Universities. An extract from the report is available on the University's Committees website.
Progress Report to AUQA
The Council received a copy of the University's progress report to the Australian Universities Quality Agency as prepared for the follow-up visit in late July 2009. The Council noted the considerable amount of work that has been undertaken since the AUQA visit to ensure that the University is satisfactorily addressing the report's affirmations and recommendations.
Dr Sue Gould
To follow up on a particular issue, please contact Ms Kylie Ebert, Council Officer, Governance and Policy.