The powers of the Council are assigned in Section 16 of the University of Newcastle Act 1989 (NSW) and include:
- acting for and on behalf of the University in the exercise of the University's functions
- having the control and management of the affairs and concerns of the University
- acting in all matters concerning the University in such a manner as appears to Council to be best calculated to promote the object and interests of the University.
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.
The Council is served by the University Secretariat, and demonstrates a commitment to good governance practices (PDF 126KB).
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.
The Academic Senate has the mission to protect, promote and enhance the excellence of the University's core academic activities – teaching, learning and research – through effective oversight. Together with its committees and with faculty boards, the Academic Senate is responsible for developing, approving and monitoring academic programs, courses and policies.
The majority of the members of the Academic Senate are elected by the academic staff of the University. Other members are elected student members, or ex-officio.
The Academic Senate reports to the Council through its President, who is a Council member.
The Academic Senate's functions are detailed in clause 11 of the Academic Senate constitution.