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 2017 (and information on the number of meetings held) is listed on pages 58-59 of this Annual Report.

Amendments to the University of Western Australia Act 1911, passed by Parliament in 2016, came into effect on 1 January 2017. These changes altered the size and composition of the Senate, but due to transitional provisions, the first change — by way of a reduction in the number of elected student members of the Senate — did not take effect until 1 December 2017. Amendments to the enabling legislation led to the initiation of a major project to review the University's subsidiary legislation, and this project will continue into 2018.

Other State Acts that 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 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; and
  • the making and amendment 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 by the fulfilment of its contractual obligations.

The Chancellor's Committee coordinates planning for the programs of the Senate and its key committees, and reviews induction programs and the professional development program for Senators. The role of this committee, in relation to forward-planning and the making of recommendations on potential candidates for appointment or co-option to the Senate, has been modified by amendments to the University of Western Australia Act 1911. A Nominations Committee has been established to perform this role.

The Strategic Resources Committee monitors, makes recommendations and reports to the Senate on the financial welfare of the University, including University investments and borrowings. It 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 incumbent in this role 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. The Senate commenced the process to recruit Professor Paul Johnson's successor in late 2016. An international search culminated on 16 January 2017 with the announcement of the appointment of Professor Dawn Freshwater as the University's 18th Vice-Chancellor.

The Vice-Chancellor appoints an executive group to assist with the responsibilities for the University's academic, financial, administrative and other business.

Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor — (position unfilled)

Responsible for broad linemanagement of the deans of faculties; for guiding the development of strategy; for planning and monitoring of performance; for staffing policy; and for deputising for the Vice-Chancellor in her absence.

The University undertook an international search to fill the vacancy in the position of Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor that was created when Professor Dawn Freshwater was appointed to the role of Vice- Chancellor.

In mid-November 2017, the Vice-Chancellor announced the appointment to the role of Professor Simon Biggs. Professor Biggs is expected to take up the position in the first quarter of 2018.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education) — Professor Grady Venville (acted in the role to October 2017); Professor David Sadler (from October 2017)
Responsible for undergraduate and postgraduate coursework education; for education policy; and for the UWA student experience, domestic student recruitment and 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 communication, international student recruitment and liaison with alumni.
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) — Professor Robyn Owens
Responsible for research and research training, industry liaison, commercialisation, and the University Library.
Executive Director (Corporate Services) — Mr Pranay Lodhiya (to June 2017); Mr Robert Webster (from July 2017)

Responsible for matters relating to finance and resources, including facilities management, IT 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 2017 by Associate Professor Cara MacNish (and in her absence on secondment, from August 2017 to the end of the year, by Professor Colin MacLeod).

The Academic Board recommends to the Senate the making, amendment and repeal of regulations that relate to courses, scholarships, prizes and other awards, and to all other academicrelated 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 that 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 Pro Vice-Chancellor and Executive Dean who has dual responsibilities 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.

2017 Faculties and Executive Deans

Arts, Business, Law and Education
Professor Matthew Tonts
Engineering and Mathematical Sciences
Professor John Dell
Medical 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 in the faculties (both academic and budgetary) 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 2017, they were:

Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research)
Professor Peter Davies
Pro Vice-Chancellor (International)
Mr Iain Watt
Pro Vice-Chancellor (Education Innovation)
Professor Gilly Salmon (to mid-2017)
Pro Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous Education)
Professor Jill Milroy

The Executive, the Executive 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 on pages 60-63 of this Annual Report.

The major publications produced by the University are:

  • Annual Report
  • Research Expertise
  • Uniview magazine
  • UWA Handbook
  • UWA Course Guides

The University's management structure is available online.

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