Terms of Reference
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:
- respect for individuals
- diligence and efficiency
- academic integrity
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:
- Processes and structures are established and responsibilities are assigned that collectively:
a. achieve effective academic oversight of the quality of teaching, learning, research and research training
b. set and monitor institutional benchmarks for academic quality and outcomes
c. establish and maintain academic leadership at an institutional level
d. provide competent advice to the corporate governing body and management on academic matters, including advice on academic outcomes, policies and practices.
- Academic oversight assures the quality of teaching, learning, research and research training effectively, including by:
a. developing, monitoring and reviewing academic policies and their effectiveness
b. confirming that delegations of academic authority are implemented
c. critically scrutinising, approving and accrediting courses of study and their associated qualifications
d. maintaining oversight of academic and research integrity, including monitoring of potential risks
e. monitoring and initiating action to improve performance against institutional benchmarks for academic quality and outcomes
f. critically evaluating the quality and effectiveness of educational innovations or proposals for innovations
g. evaluating the effectiveness of institutional monitoring, review and improvement of academic activities, and
h. monitoring and reporting to the corporate governing body on the quality of teaching, learning, research and research training.
- Students have opportunities to participate in academic governance.
The Senate shall:
- 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.
Academic Senate Subcommittees
The following subcommittees currently support the Senate:
- University Education Committee
- University Internationalisation Committee
- University Research Committee
- Quality Assurance Review Group
The Academic Senate consists of:
Chair of Academic Senate
- Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education)
- Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation)
- Pro Vice-Chancellor (Students)
- Pro Vice-Chancellor (Global)
- Chief Operating Officer
- Executive Deans of each faculty
- Director, Woolyungah Indigenous Centre
- Student Ombudsman
- Associate Deans (Education)
- Faculty academic representative members (5 per faculty)
- Level E and above (1)
- Level C and D (2)
- Level A and B (1)
- Head of School (1)
- Non-faculty academic representative members (3)
- Associate Deans (Research) representative (1)
- Associate Deans (International) representative (1)
- Associate Deans (Equity, Diversity and Inclusion) representative (1)
- Undergraduate students (4)
- Postgraduate students (2)
- Onshore International student (1)
*In light of the outcomes of the 2021 Review of Academic Senate Membership and Composition, where organisational change results in a need to alter Academic Senate membership, consideration is to be given to maintaining a total membership in the range of 45 – 55 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 five elected academic representative members. This does not include the ex officio members, such as the Executive Dean and the Associate Dean Education.
- There are three elected, non-faculty, academic positions across the University to ensure academic staff working outside the faculties are represented on Senate.
- There is one representative of Associate Deans (International), elected by the University Internationalisation Committee.
- There is one representative of Associate Deans (Research), elected by the University Research Committee.
- There is one representative of Associate Deans (Equity, Diversity and Inclusion), elected by the Academic 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.
- There is one students elected by and from the onshore international students enrolled for a degree or diploma in the University.
- As per the Rules, student member terms are for two years, with terms of office staggered across alternate years to provide for continuity of student membership.
Chair and Deputy Chair
The Senate must elect every two years a Chair from among the Professors and Associate Professors of the University.
The Senate must elect every two years a Deputy Chair from among the current members of Academic Senate.
The following University officers shall be standing attendees at Academic Senate meetings:
- Dean, Graduate Research
- Director, Academic Quality and Standards
- Director, Library
- Director, Student and Accommodation Services Division
The quorum for any meeting of the Senate shall be a majority of the total number of members.
- 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.
- Standing attendees may attend meetings of the Senate and shall be given the right to speak at the Senate with the leave of the Chair.
- In accordance with the Academic Senate Standing Orders, members of the University community may request to observe meetings of the Senate.
- 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: 9 April 2021