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UWS Academic Senate

UWS Academic Senate

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UWS Academic Senate

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  1. UWS Academic Senate Information for members

  2. Contents in Order of Presentation • Welcome by Chair • Schedule of meetings • Academic Senate responsibilities • Scope of academic governance • Academic Senate Terms of Reference • Academic Senate Full membership • Academic Senate Executive membership • Academic Senate and UWS Governance Structure • Academic Senate Standing Orders • Academic Senate Committees • Academic Senate Quality Improvement • Academic Senate and the Higher Education Sector • Academic Senate and the University Community • How to contribute an item or agenda materials • Academic Senate Annual Work-plan • Reminders and contacts

  3. Welcome to the University of Western Sydney Academic Senate. It is the peak academic body in the University. As a member of Senate you play an important role in the development and determination of academic policies. Together with your Senate colleagues, Academic Senate acts as primary custodian of academic values, quality and standards for the University. Senate full meetings, committees, and working parties, review and develop policies, debate academic issues, promote quality in Teaching, Learning and Research, advise on the Academic Plan, encourage collaboration and approve academic aspects of courses. • Your informed participation in Senate is vital. Considered and consistent participation will help ensure that Senate remains a relevant and respected body in University governance. • This information resource is designed to support you in making timely, meaningful and effective contributions to Senate by better understanding its scope, functions, and related themes. It provides an overview of Senate issues and links you to relevant sites and UWS senate web-pages. • New members are invited to an orientation briefing conducted by the Chair. All members are also welcome to contact me, the Deputy Chair or Secretary at any time. • Professor Anne Cusick • Chair of Academic Senate

  4. Scheduleof Meetings • Academic Senate is required to meet at least four times each year. • The schedule of Academic Senate and Senate committee meetings can be found on the UWS Website at: • Members are expected to attend all meetings as a quorum is essential. • Meetings of Senate are usually held in Building AD at Werrington North Campus. • Meetings are open and observers are welcome. • Parking is easily available at all times. • Coffee and tea are available at each meeting.

  5. Scope of Academic Governance • University academic governance is taken to be different from, but complementary to, University management which through appropriate delegations of authority, is responsible for utilising the University’s physical, financial and human resources to achieve the University’s objectives in accordance with the Strategic Plans. The University’s academic governance arrangements aim to facilitate academic decision making that empowers the academic community to discuss academic issues openly, and arrive at decisions by consensus. Academic governance reflects the values of collegiality, participation and ownership. • The University’s academic governing bodies comprise:- • Academic Senate with overarching responsibility for academic decision making, and the maintenance of academic quality; • Senate’s principal standing committees, which include Education, Course Approvals and Articulations, Research, Research Studies, and the College Boards of Studies; • The Education, Assessment and Progression, and the Research and Higher Degree, committees of the colleges; • Committees or panels at the school level which are required through specific policies such as the Assessment or Academic Misconduct policy; • Ad-hoc working parties which are convened by a committee from time to time to focus on a particular issue or task. • The membership of Senate includes senior University line managers (the Vice-Chancellor, the Deputy and Pro-Vice Chancellors, and the Executive Deans, etc.) , ex-officio positions for student representatives, college board chairs, and members elected by the academic staff in the colleges.

  6. As a member of Academic Senate you should consult the UWS Calendar for information about structure, rules and academic policy Available on-line at: Academic Senate Responsibilities • Responsibilities of Academic Senate covered in the University’s Academic Governance Policy. • The Academic Governance Policy outlines the functions of Academic Senate, membership, matters relating to election of members, terms of office, meetings, and committees of Senate. • Academic Senate is referred to in the University of Western Sydney Act available at: • All members should be familiar with the Academic Governance Policy so that the scope, purpose and responsibilities of Senate can inform member contributions.

  7. Academic Senate Terms of Reference Full details of Senate terms of reference and rules can be found in the UWS Calendar available at : In summary, the Academic Senate, as laid down in the University of Western Sydney Act, 1997… “…is the peak forum of the University for academic debate and discourse, and is the primary custodian of academic values and standards for the University” Subject to the By-law and to any decision of the Board of Trustees, the Academic Senate will: -advise the Board, the Vice-Chancellor, and other senior executives of the University, on the University's academic objectives, activities, policies, procedures, and overall academic direction; -promote and monitor academic quality, standards and values of the University's academic activities, advise on the University's Academic Plan and advise the Board and Vice-Chancellor as appropriate; -decide academic policy and approve related procedures; -accredit and approve courses and subjects;-authorise the conferring of awards; and-promote the quality and development of research in the University.

  8. Academic Senate Membership • Members of Academic Senate are listed annually in the UWS Calendar under “Governing Bodies”. • Official members are included by virtue of their position. • Appointed members are included by terms of appointment specified in the Standing Orders of Academic Senate • Elections take place in accord with the provisions of the University of Western Sydney By-law and University Rules. • Election information can be found on the Academic web-site link at : • The Senate web-site presents the names and profiles of members. Academic Senate Membership • The Chair and Deputy Chair are elected positions with terms of 2 years. • There are elected academic staff members from each College with terms of 2 years. • There are ex-officio and elected student members from the undergraduate and post-graduate students association with terms of 2 years. • The Vice Chancellor, Executive Deans, DVCs, PVCs, Academic Registrar, University Librarian, and other senior staff are ex-officio members. • Chairs of the College Boards of Studies are ex-officio members of the Senate. • The Academic Senate is supported by a designated Senate Secretary. • Committees of Senate are supported by Committee Officers of the Academic Secretariat. An Assistant Academic Registrar oversees the Academic Secretariat.

  9. Senate Executive Committee Role The Executive Committee determines urgent matters on behalf of Senate between meetings of the full Senate, monitors the business of the Senate and all Senate committees and reviews Senate action sheets, to ensure that appropriate follow-up is taking place. It also assists in the process of determining which matters should be referred to Senate for attention. Terms of Reference Identify issues requiring attention by the Academic Senate and ensure the preparation of appropriate draft proposals and recommendations, together with supporting documentation, for consideration by Senate. Facilitate the flow of business among Senate and its other standing committees. Determine urgent matters within the jurisdiction of Senate, which arise between meetings of Senate, and report action taken to the Senate. Consider and determine any matters referred to it by Senate, or the Chair of Senate, or, where urgency is required, by Senate’s other committees. Membership Chair of Academic Senate (Chair) Deputy Chair, Academic Senate College Boards of Studies Chairs Pro Vice-Chancellor (Academic) Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research) Academic Registrar 2 of the elected members of Academic Senate, excluding ex-officio members, chosen by the Chair of Senate

  10. Academic Senate and UWS Governance Structure • Academic Senate is a significant body in the UWS Governance Structure. • It has specific functions delegated to it by the Board of Trustees that relate to academic matters. • The Academic Senate reports to the Board of Trustees. Their web page can be located at: Board of Trustees • Formal written reports are prepared by the Chair ,and the Academic Secretariat, for the Board’s meetings. The Chair of Senate is a member of the Board of Trustees. • The governance and management structure of UWS are available on the “university structure” links at: • Senate provides a useful vehicle for debate about a broad range of issues which affect the academic quality, standards and values of the university.

  11. Academic Senate Standing Orders • Standing Orders for the conduct of Academic Senate meetings are available on the UWS Policy Directory which can be linked via: • UWS Academic Standing Orders were approved in 2005 after an internal review of existing standing orders, benchmarking with other Australian universities, and feedback from Senate members, members of the Office of the Academic Registrar, and College Boards of Studies. • Members should read and understand Standing Orders as they provide the framework within which Senate business is conducted. Attendance, apologies and termination of membership are covered in Part G of the Standing Orders. Elected members should note that an absence of 3 consecutive meetings results in automatic loss of membership. • Standing Orders provide rules for the conduct of meetings, dissemination of papers, receipt of items and preparation of reports. • Senate is conducted in a collegial and welcoming manner, with decisions arrived at through consensus wherever possible. Occasionally technical points which relate to Standing Orders may be raised, however this is rare. • Any queries regarding Standing Orders should be addressed to the Chair or Secretary of Senate.

  12. Senate Standing Committees • Senate is supported by the following committees • Research • Research Studies • Education • Course Approvals and Articulations • Appeals • College Boards of Studies • Each of these Committees have terms of reference, defined membership, meeting schedules and minutes. • Each of these committees reports to Academic Senate through minutes and chairs of the committees are members of Academic Senate. Each of these committees can make comment and recommendations to Senate.

  13. Academic Senate Quality Improvement Academic Senate has strategies to assure and enhance quality in processes and decisions. • A work-plan is developed each year which identifies priority areas from Senate terms of reference for action. A report on progress and outcomes is provided in January of the following year. • External benchmarking of Senate performance using resources such as : AUQA Audit reports of governance from Australian Universities; Collegial discussion and exchange through the NSW and National Committees of Chairs of Boards/Senates • Self assessments of performance are conducted including: member perceptions of Senate function; 360 degree feedback of the Senate Chair; annual reports of measurable indicators of participation and contribution such as attendance, policy review outcomes and so on. • Professional development of members through orientation and induction for new members, member information resources, regular briefings on higher education sector developments as part of meeting business, AUQA audit related activity. Specific professional development for the Chair is supported by the Office of the Vice Chancellor in relation to governance, meeting procedure, and principles of administrative law. • Communication and reporting of Senate processes and outcomes through transparent and widely accessible information systems: Senate web site provides links • Cross functional University wide projects on specific policy matters to enhance quality commissioned by Senate or its committees: for example review of academic misconduct policy and procedure 2005, review of progression policy 2005, review of unsatisfactory academic performance appeals processes 2005.

  14. Academic Senate and the Higher Education Sector • Academic Senate members need to keep abreast of higher education sector developments so that debate and decisions are realistic, relevant and evidence-based. • The Chair of Senate regularly invites higher education sector policy briefings by internal and external experts. Examples include briefings by AUQA auditors, exploration of the 2005 Research Quality Framework government discussion paper, explanation of the Higher Education Support Act 2004 and its impact on UWS. • The Chair of Senate is a member of the National and State Committee of Chairs of Academic Boards/Senates of Universities. The state group meets quarterly and the national group meets annually with a significant focus of activity being links between the secondary school Board of Studies and Universities, higher education policy and sector developments. • Members are encouraged to seek out sector information to inform debate particularly as Senate views are sought and action is required to inform university responses to particular agencies such as: • The Australian Universities Quality Agency • The Australian Vice-Chancellors Committee • The Department of Education Science and Training, Higher Education: • Relevant links to higher education sector sites are available at:

  15. Academic Senate and the University Community • Academic Senate engages with the University community primarily through its individual members, committees and working parties. • Individual members of Senate and its committees come from a wide range of backgrounds and include academic staff, administrative staff, and students. • Senate has committees that are University wide: for example the Research, Education, Research Studies and Courses Approvals and Articulations Committee. • College Boards of Studies operate at college level. • School Boards were established following the 2005 review of academic governance. • Senate and its committees often convene specialist working parties to tackle particular issues. Examples include working parties to review and make recommendations for change to the Misconduct policy, Progressions policy, consider implications of changes to the student administration system Callista and so on. Diverse membership on these committees is encouraged, so that students and staff not normally on Senate committees are able to participate directly in governance. • Individual University staff and students are able to keep in touch with Senate activity and developments through the Senate web page, by contacting members of Senate or the Chair, or by attending as observers.

  16. Academic Senate Annual Work-plan • The Senate Work-plan provides a particular focus for strategic project-based work on an annual basis. • The work-plan targets annual priority areas from the Senate terms of reference which are identified through a consultative process. The work-plan is developed by the Chair and is circulated for input prior to endorsement by the Senate. • Regular progress reports are provided with a full-year report on outcomes achieved presented to the final Senate meeting of the year. The material is used to provide copy for submission for inclusion in the UWS Annual Report. • The current work-plan can be accessed at

  17. How to contribute an item or agenda materials • If you wish to contribute an item for the agenda it is helpful to contact the Secretary to Senate Mr Greg Wheatley by phone or email. He can advise you on the best way to proceed in keeping with Standing Orders. • The Secretary can assist you in considering the best way to put forward motions and supporting so that Academic Senate is able to be fully informed and can focus on the substantive issue at hand. • Tabling of items is generally discouraged, because it does not provide an opportunity for members to become informed with the issue or consult with colleagues. • All material should be in electronic format as this is the method used to distribute materials to members and relevant groups. Members do receive a printed copy of papers, however this is sent the day after the electronic mailing.

  18. Reminders • Attendance: The schedule of all meetings for the year is published in advance for members to plan their leave and activities so that they can attend. Members should sign the attendance record at the meeting. Your attendance is publicly reported in minutes and in Annual Senate Self Assessment performance indicators. • Apologies: The secretary needs to be informed if you are unable to attend a meeting. This is particularly important for the Chair to ascertain the likelihood of a quorum in advance of the meeting. • Ex-officio members: The secretary needs to be informed if you are resigning or changing your position in the University as you hold you membership by virtue of your office. • Going on leave? If you are going on extended leave you should advise the secretary. You should consult the Standing Orders with regard to the use of alternates or replacements (for ex-officio members). Where alternates or replacements are used within standing orders guidelines, the position is considered “filled” for the purposes of performance indicator measures of attendance. • Arranging alternates: This must be done within Standing Orders guidelines at Part G Clause 37; the alternate should be fully briefed on procedural and substantive matters; and the Chair should be informed in advance of the meeting • Change of email address: Please advise any change of email address well in advance of the electronic mail-out of papers. • Change of postal address: Only members receive printed papers, posted the day after the electronic distribution which coincides with standing orders requirements. Please advise any change of postal address. • Feedback: Feedback on this “information resource for members” or any other matter regarding Senate functions is welcomed by the Chair.

  19. Contacts • Chair of Academic Senate until 31 July 2008 : Professor Anne Cusick 4620 3346 • Deputy Chair Academic Senate until 30 April 2008: Dr Alan McPhail 4736 0826a.mcphail. • Secretary to Academic Senate: Mr Greg Wheatley 9678 7820 • Assistant Academic Registrar, Academic Secretariat (Head of Unit for all Academic Committee Officers: Education Committee, Course Approvals and Articulations Committee, College Boards of Studies): Mr Jeff Warnock 9678 7803 • Director, Research Services (Head of Unit for Research Committee Officers: Research Committee, Research Studies Committee): Mr Gar Jones 4736 0631