The University was established by the University of Western Australia Act 1911. The Act provides the legislative machinery for administering the University; it establishes the Governing Body (the Senate) which is empowered to 'have the entire control and management of the affairs of the University'.
The Act gives the Senate powers to act in the interests of the University through the making of statutes, regulations, and by-laws and through the management of income and expenditure. It provides powers of delegation for the Governing Body, so that day-to-day management of the University can be delegated to officers employed by the University. Membership of the Governing Body in 2016 (and information on the number of meetings held) is listed in this section.
Other State Acts which deal with aspects of the management of the University are the University Buildings Act 1952, the University Medical School Teaching Hospitals Act 1955, and the QEII Medical Centre Act 1966.
The University is responsible to the State Minister for Education for the proper conduct of its business under the legal framework established by State legislation. However, the University receives the majority of its funding from the Commonwealth and it is therefore responsible to the Commonwealth Minister for Education for the delivery of its teaching and research programs and for the provision of adequate infrastructure to support those programs.
The Senate has identified its key activities as:
- the setting of strategic directions
- the oversight, audit, and review of proper governance processes to ensure proper systems of control, accountability, and risk management
- the assessment and monitoring of performance including financial performance against established targets and budgets
- the making and amending of University legislation.
It has adopted a charter that provides for these roles and has established standing committees to assist it in its tasks.
The Audit and Risk Committee assists the Senate in fulfilling its responsibilities by reviewing the University's financial reporting; reviewing the effectiveness of the University's systems of internal control and its risk-management framework; reviewing and assessing compliance with relevant regulatory and legal requirements; and the fulfilment of its contractual obligations.
The Chancellor's Committee coordinates planning for the programs of the Senate and its key committees; undertakes forward planning and makes recommendations on potential candidates for appointment or co-option to the Senate; reviews induction programs; and the professional development program for Senators.
The Strategic Resources Committee monitors, makes recommendations and reports to Senate on the financial welfare of the University including University investments; monitors and makes recommendations on campus planning initiatives and major physical infrastructure developments; and monitors policy on staffing resources.
In order to fulfil its responsibilities effectively the Senate appoints the Vice-Chancellor as its Chief Executive Officer and works in partnership with the Vice-Chancellor to maximise the University's capacity and performance and to ensure its fiscal viability. The Senate delegates operational responsibility to the Vice-Chancellor and monitors, guides, and supports the work of the Vice-Chancellor and Executive.
The Vice-Chancellor is appointed by the Senate, for a period normally not exceeding seven years, following public advertising and standard recruitment procedures. Professor Paul Johnson has been Vice-Chancellor since January 2012, but for family reasons he declined the Senate's offer to renew his contract at the end of 2016.
The Vice-Chancellor appoints an executive group to assist with responsibilities for the academic, financial, administrative, and other business of the University.
- Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor — Professor Dawn Freshwater
- Responsible for broad line management of the deans of faculties and Dean of the School of Indigenous Studies; for guiding the development of strategy, planning, and monitoring of performance; for staffing policy; and deputising for the Vice-Chancellor in his absence.
- Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education) — Professor Alec Cameron (to August 2016)
- Responsible for undergraduate and postgraduate coursework education; for education policy; the UWA student experience, domestic student recruitment and services; and the University Library and IT services.
- Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Community and Engagement) — Professor Kent Anderson
- Responsible for leading the University's engagement with the wider community locally, nationally, and internationally. This includes marketing, government and corporate communications, international student recruitment, and liaison with alumni.
- Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) — Professor Robyn Owens
- Responsible for research and research training; industry liaison; and commercialisation.
- Chief Operating Officer (Interim) — Mr Pranay Lodhiya
- Responsible for matters relating to finance and resources, including facilities management and campus development.
A key feature of the University's governance and management system is its strong collegial foundation. The University's peak academic body is the Academic Board, established by the Senate under Statute 19 and chaired in 2016 by Associate Professor Cara MacNish.
The Academic Board recommends to the Senate the making, amending, and repealing of regulations relating to courses, scholarships, prizes and other awards and to all other academic-related matters; and approves rules specifying the course requirements, structures, and policies applying to courses for degrees, diplomas, and certificates. The Board also advises the Senate on all proposals for the creation or disestablishment of faculties and schools.
The Board is supported by its executive committee, the Academic Council, which has delegated powers for dealing with many items of Board business, and by a range of standing committees, which provide policy advice on academic matters. The committee system is replicated at the faculty and school levels.
Statute 8 establishes the faculties, which are responsible for the general administration of the courses under their governance. Each faculty is headed by a dean who has dual responsibility – to the faculty for providing vision, academic leadership, and effective management, and to the Vice-Chancellor for the effective leadership and management of the faculty's human, physical, and financial resources located in the schools resourced by the faculty.
2016 faculties and deans:
- Architecture, Landscape and Visual Arts
- Professor Simon Anderson
- Professor Krishna Sen
- Business (UWA Business School)
- Professor Phillip Dolan
- Professor Helen Wildy
- Engineering, Computing and Mathematics
- Professor John Dell
- School of Indigenous Studies
- Professor Jill Milroy
- Professor Erika Techera
- Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences
- Professor Wendy Erber
- Professor Tony O'Donnell
The University's decision-making structures and processes combine a significant level of operational autonomy (both academic and budgetary) in the faculties with a cohesive institution-wide approach to policy in the collegial and executive governance systems.
The Vice-Chancellor may also appoint Pro Vice-Chancellors whose responsibilities extend across the University. In 2016 they were:
- Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research)
- Professor Peter Davies
- Pro Vice-Chancellor (International)
- Mr Iain Watt
- Pro Vice-Chancellor (Education Innovation)
- Professor Gilly Salmon
The Executive, the deans, and committees at all levels work with, and are supported by, the University's professional staff, both technical and administrative.
Diagrammatic representations of the University's governance system and its executive management structure are set out respectively in the following sections.
The major publications produced by the University are available on its website: