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Academic Senate

Terms of Reference

Introduction

Academic Senate (Senate) is established under the University of Wollongong Act 1989 and is the principal academic body of the University, having responsibility for advising the Council and the Vice-Chancellor on matters relating to teaching, scholarship, research and related activities in accordance with these terms of reference. Senate plays an important role in the governance of the University by working in collaboration with the University Council (Council), the University Executive and the academic community.

Senate exercises academic oversight and provides advice and recommendations, where appropriate, to Council and the Vice-Chancellor on all academic matters of the University, including academic priorities and policies, academic aspects of the University’s strategic plan, and the assurance of academic standards. Specifically, Senate ensures academic quality assurance, monitoring of learning and teaching, research and research training, academic and research integrity and risk, educational innovations, and the student experience.

Senate is a key forum for its members to consider University-wide academic issues including those relating to the broader governmental, political or market environment. Issues or policies with substantial academic implications may be referred to Senate for review and input prior to consideration by Council.

Senate represents the University Community regarding matters relating to the academic life of the University.

Academic Senate Values

Senate is committed to the following values which act as: a reference point for academic excellence; a catalyst for discussion and awareness; an aid to accountability; and an aid to informing the awareness and expectations of those who interact with Senate and its subcommittees:

  • fairness
  • independence
  • respect for individuals
  • diligence and efficiency
  • academic integrity
  • transparency

Academic Governance Framework

Through its business, the business of its subcommittees, and reports of its members, Senate assures itself that the academic governance framework of the University is consistent with the Higher Education Standards Framework (Threshold Standards), requirements of which include that:

  1. Processes and structures are established and responsibilities are assigned that collectively:
    • Achieve effective academic oversight of the quality of teaching, learning, research and research training.
    • Set and monitor institutional benchmarks for academic quality and outcomes.
    • Establish and maintain academic leadership at an institutional level.
    • Stablish and maintain academic outcomes, policies and practices.
  2. Academic oversight assures the quality of teaching, learning, research and research training effectively, including by:
    • Developing, monitoring and reviewing academic policies and their effectiveness.
    • Confirming that delegations of academic authority are implemented.
    • Critically scrutinising, approving and accrediting courses of study and their associated qualifications.
    • Maintaining oversight of academic and research integrity, including monitoring of potential risks.
    • Monitoring and initiating action to improve performance against institutional benchmarks for academic quality and outcomes.
    • Critically evaluating the quality and effectiveness of educational innovations or proposals for innovations.
    • Evaluating the effectiveness of institutional monitoring, review and improvement of academic activities.
    • Monitoring and reporting to the corporate governing body on the quality of teaching, learning, research and research training.
  3. Students have opportunities to participate in academic governance.

Responsibilities

The Senate shall:

  1. Advise the Vice-Chancellor and Council about academic matters including:
    • Teaching, research and educational programs
    • The academic goals, plans and priorities of the University and the actions required to sustain and develop such objectives;
    • Academic aspects relating to the University’s Strategic Plan, including significant changes to the academic organisation; and
    • Policies relating to the academic life of the University
  2. Consider and report on any matter referred to it by the Council or the Vice-Chancellor, exercising such functions, responsibilities or authority as may be assigned or delegated to it from time to time by Council.
  3. Make determinations on proposals for introduction of new or amended courses, or the deletion of existing courses.
  4. Make recommendations on proposals for new or amended, University-wide policies relating to research, education, the student experience and administration of courses.
  5. Request reports or statements from members of the Senior Executive, Executive Deans, University Directors, major University Committees and other relevant committees to promote effective monitoring of academic standards.
  6. Receive the minutes of Senate’s subcommittees and from the Academic Boards of UOW’s entities, and consider any matters arising from those minutes.
  7. Refer matters for consideration and report to a Faculty or any other academic committee or unit, as appropriate.
  8. Consider academic matters raised by any member of the University through a member of Senate.
  9. Establish subcommittees and management groups to consider, advise on and/or determine matters on which Senate may deliberate in accordance with these Terms of Reference.
  10. Report to the Vice-Chancellor and Council at least annually to provide oversight of academic governance and to provide assurance to the Vice-Chancellor and Council that UOW is meeting the Higher Education Standards Framework (Threshold Standards) for academic governance.

Academic Senate Subcommittees

The following subcommittees currently support the Senate:

  • University Education Committee
  • University Internationalisation Committee
  • University Research Committee
  • Strategic Course Development Committee

Membership

The Academic Senate consists of:

  • Chair of Academic Senate
  • Deputy Chair of Academic Senate
  • Ex-Officio Members:
    • Vice-Chancellor
    • Senior Deputy Vice Chancellor
    • Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education)
    • Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Global Strategy)
    • Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Health and Communities)
    • Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation)
    • Pro Vice-Chancellor (Inclusion and Outreach)
    • Pro Vice-Chancellor (Students)
    • Chief Operating Officer
    • Executive Deans of each faculty
    • Dean of Gradudate Research
    • Executive Director of AIIM
    • Director, Library Services
    • Director, Student Services Division
    • General Manager, UOW College Australia
    • Director, Woolyungah Indigenous Centre
    • Student Ombudsman
    • Associate Deans - Education, International, Research (1 of each per faculty)
  • Elected Members:
    • Faculty academic representative members (9 per faculty)
    • Non-faculty academic representative members (7)
    • Undergraduate students (4)
    • Postgraduate students (2)

Elected Members

  • Elections for all members to Academic Senate are governed by the Academic Senate Electoral Rules (the Rules). The Rules provide a framework for managing elections for:
    • Staff members;
    • Student members; and
    • The Chair and Deputy Chair of Academic Senate.
  • Each Faculty has nine elected academic representative members. This does not include the ex officio members, such as the Executive Dean and the Associate Deans Education, International and Research.
  • There are seven elected, non-faculty, academic positions across the University to ensure academic staff working outside the faculties are represented on Senate.
  • As per the Rules, all elected non-student members of Academic Senate serve a two year term.
  • There are four students elected by and from the undergraduate students enrolled for a degree or diploma in the University.
  • There are two students elected by and from the postgraduate students enrolled for a degree or diploma in the University.
  • As per the Rules, student member terms are for one year.

Chair and Deputy Chair

The Senate must elect every two years a Chair and a Deputy Chair from among the Professors and Associate Professors of the University.

Quorum

The quorum for any meeting of the Senate shall be 30 members.

General

  • The Senate shall meet up to six times a year. In addition, special meetings may be called by the Vice-Chancellor, the Chair or by a petition supported by not less than one-third of its members.
  • Written notice of place and agenda of meetings shall be given to members at least seven days before each such meeting of the Senate; in addition, the agendas and minutes of meetings of the Senate shall be available to all members of the University.
  • By virtue of Clause 9 of the University of Wollongong By-law 2005, which provides that the Vice-Chancellor may preside at a meeting of any board, committee or faculty of the University, the Vice-Chancellor can elect to preside over meetings of the Senate.
  • Members of the University who are not members of Senate may attend meetings of the Senate and shall be given the right to speak at the Senate with the leave of the Chair.
  • The Vice-Chancellor shall bring to the Council or its Committees those items of business from the proceedings of Senate which require consideration by the Council or its Committees.
  • The minutes of the meetings of Senate shall be forwarded to Council, for information.
  • Senate is committed to review its operations periodically, being mindful of changing internal and external processes.

Role of the Chair

  • To chair the Senate and other Senate subcommittees, as appropriate.
  • To represent the Senate to the Senior Executive and the University Council.
  • To enquire into and inform Senate on academic issues whether emanating from within the University or externally, through government and other institutions, including the Chairs of Senates and Academic Boards.
  • To represent the Senate on University committees.

Version approved by University Council:  14 August 2020

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