The University of Western Australia Act 1911 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 Senate, so that day-to-day management of the University can be delegated to officers employed by the University. Senate membership and information on the number of meetings held in 2018 are listed on the following pages of this Annual Report.

Amendments to the University of Western Australia Act 1911 came into effect in 2017 that impacted the size and composition of Senate. Through a transition, these changes were reflected in the Senate in December 2017. A major review of UWA’s subsidiary legislation was initiated in 2017 and continued into 2018.

Other State Acts that impact 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 state legislation. However, the majority of its funding is invested by 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.

Senate’s key activities are:

  • 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 against targets and benchmarks, including financial performance
  • the making and amending of University legislation

Standing Committees of the Senate convened to enable this:

The Audit and Risk Committee has responsibility for reviewing the University’s financial reporting, reviewing the effectiveness of the University’s risk management, 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 of the Senate, and reviews induction and professional development programs for Senate members.

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.

The Academic Board is the University’s peak academic body established by the Senate under Statute 19 and chaired by a member of the academic community.

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 an executive 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.


Senate appoints the Vice-Chancellor and works in partnership with the incumbent in this role to maximise the University’s capacity and performance, and to ensure its fiscal viability.

Vice-Chancellor and President — Professor Dawn Freshwater

Appointed as the Chief Executive Officer and is delegated operational responsibility of the University.

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

Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor — Professor Simon Biggs (from March 2018)

Responsible for broad line management of the Executive Deans of faculties, academic performance, staffing policy, and deputising for the Vice-Chancellor in her absence.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education) — Professor David Sadler

Responsible for undergraduate and postgraduate coursework education, education policy, and the UWA student experience.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Community and Engagement) — Professor Kent Anderson

Responsible for leading the University’s engagement with the wider community, locally, nationally and internationally, including industry and alumni engagement. This includes marketing, government and corporate communication, and domestic and international student recruitment.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) — Professor Robyn Owens

Responsible for research and research training, research policy, research translation and commercialisation, and the University Library.

Executive Director Corporate Services — Mr Robert Webster

Responsible for matters relating to finance and resources, including campus and digital infrastructure management and development.

2018 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 Vice-Chancellor may also appoint Pro Vice-Chancellors whose responsibilities extend across the University. In 2018 they were:

Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research) to August 2018
Professor Peter Davies
Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research) Acting from August 2018
Professor Tim Colmer
Pro Vice-Chancellor (International) to May 2018
Mr Iain Watt
Pro Vice-Chancellor (International)
Position unfilled
Pro Vice-Chancellor (Education) from February 2018
Professor Peter Dean
Pro Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous Education)
Professor Jill Milroy

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 and process.

Diagrammatic representations of the University’s governance system and its executive management structure are set out as follows.