Constitution of the Academic Senate

Document Number000402
Date Approved15 December 2006
Date Last Amended23 August 2013
                  [This Rule is known as the Interim Constitution of the Academic Senate]

1.      Introduction

1.1       Purpose

The Academic Senate is established by section 15 of the University of Newcastle Act 1989 (NSW), which provides that “There shall be an Academic Senate of the University”.

This Constitution is made in accordance with the provisions of the University of Newcastle Act 1989 and details specific functions and responsibilities of the Academic Senate and its committees.

1.2       Interpretation

In this Constitution:

(a)  headings are for convenience only and do not affect meaning; and

(b)  unless the contrary intention appears:

(i)   words importing the singular number include the plural number and vice versa;

(ii) words importing any gender include all other genders; and

(iii) a reference to a Clause is to a clause of this Constitution.

2.      Definitions

In the context of this Constitution:

academic staff means an academic employee holding a substantive academic position of 0.5 full-time equivalent or above where the contract length is twelve months or longer;

Act means the University of Newcastle Act 1989 (NSW);

award refers to the particular academic achievement – certificate, diploma, degree– established by Council and conferred following the successful completion of the requirements of an underlying program;

By-Law means the University of Newcastle By-law 2005 (NSW);

Council means the Council of the University;

enrolled student means a student enrolled in a course at the University of Newcastle at the time of their election and during their term of office;

postgraduate coursework student means a student enrolled in a postgraduate coursework program of the University;

professoriate means academic staff appointed to Level D or E positions in the University;

program means the program of study created and approved by Academic Senate leading to an established award;

research higher degree student means student enrolled in a postgraduate research higher degree program of the University;

Schedule means the Schedule to this Rule, which forms part of this Rule;

undergraduate student means a student enrolled in an undergraduate program of the University;

University means the University of Newcastle, established by the Act.

3.      Elections

3.1         The elections required under the Constitution, with the exception of clause 9.3, shall be conducted by the Returning Officer who shall conduct any ballot and determine the result in accordance with the provisions for the conduct of elections set out in Regulations 17(4) to 27 of the By-law or the Rules Governing Electronic Ballots [001017] as determined by the University Secretary.

3.2         Eligible candidates may nominate themselves as a potential member of Academic Senate by completing and lodging a nomination form with the Returning Officer before the close of nominations.

3.3         The Returning Officer will allocate those nominees eligible for more than one position so as to ensure all positions are filled where possible.

3.4         In the event of there being more than one possible solution, the Returning Officer will determine the eligible candidate by random draw.

3.5         Where the number of nominees eligible for a given membership category is greater than the number of positions available, a ballot will be conducted.

3.6         Register of Intending Members

(a)        The Returning Officer will establish and maintain a register of persons who are interested in becoming a member of Academic Senate.

(b)        Staff can choose to be added to, or withdrawn from, the register at any time.

(c)        When an election period is approaching, the Returning Officer will directly contact eligible people on the Register of Intending Members to invite them to nominate by completing and submitting a nomination form.

4.      Act and By-law

4.1         Section 15(1) of the Act provides that the Academic Senate is to consist of “the Vice-Chancellor and such other persons as the Council may, in accordance with the by-laws, determine.”

4.2         The By-law provides that the composition and functions of the Academic Senate will be determined by resolution of the University Council.

5.      Composition

5.1       The Academic Senate will consist of:

(a)  fourteen (14) ex-officio members, being the:

(i)         Vice-Chancellor;

(ii)        Deputy Vice-Chancellor responsible for teaching and learning;

(iii)       Deputy Vice-Chancellor responsible for research;

(iv)       Faculty Pro Vice-Chancellors;

(v)        Pro Vice-Chancellor (Singapore);

(vi)       Director, Academic and Research, Wollotuka Institute;

(vii)      Director of the Centre for Teaching and Learning;

(viii)     Director of English Language and Foundation Studies;

(ix)       Dean of Graduate Studies;

(x)        Academic Registrar;

(b)  thirty-two (32) elected members, being:

(i)         the person elected as President of Academic Senate ("President”);

(ii)        five members elected from the professoriate of the University by the professoriate, with no more than two members in this category from the same Faculty;

(iii)       one academic staff member at Level A or B, elected from each Faculty by the academic staff at that level within that Faculty;

(iv)       one academic staff member at Level C or D elected from each Faculty by the academic staff at that level within that Faculty;

(v)        one academic staff member at Level E elected from each Faculty by the academic staff at that level within that Faculty;

(vi)       one academic staff member from the elected members of each Faculty Board elected by the Faculty Board;

(vii)      one academic staff member from the English Language and Foundation Studies Centre elected by the academic staff from that Centre;

(viii)      two enrolled undergraduate students, one of whom must be from the Callaghan campus and the other from another University location, elected by  the University’s undergraduate student body;

(ix)       one enrolled postgraduate coursework student elected by  the University’s postgraduate coursework student body;

(x)       one enrolled postgraduate research higher degree student elected by  the University’s postgraduate research higher degree student body;

(xi)       one level E or D academic, from a University location other than the Callaghan campus, elected by academics primarily located at a campus other than the Callaghan campus.

(c)  Additional members being

up to four staff members selected from within the University nominated by the President of Academic Senate and endorsed by the Academic Senate to provide for inclusiveness in the membership of the Academic Senate in regard to aspects  such as:  gender, location and academic unit of the University.

6.      Terms of Office of Elected Members

6.1       The terms of office of elected members will be two years, except that:

(a)  the term of office of the President is as provided for in clause 8.2 and

(b)  the terms of office of members elected under sub-clauses 5.1(b)(viii),  5.1(b)(ix) and 5.1.(b)(x) will be one year.

6.2       (a) The terms of office of elected members will normally run from 1 January, except that:

(b) in the initial term of office from 1 July 2010  half the  elected members of the Academic Senate in categories 5.1 (b)ii – vii will, be selected by lot by the Returning Officer to serve a term of 18 months and the remaining elected members will serve an initial term of 30 months. Thereafter the provisions of 6.2(a) will apply.

7.      Vacancies

7.1       An elected member of the Academic Senate will be deemed to have vacated office if that member:

(a)        resigns the office by notice in writing addressed to the University Secretary;

(b)        is absent without leave of the Academic Senate from two consecutive meetings of the Academic Senate;

(c)        proceeds on leave of absence from the University for a period exceeding six months;

(d)        resigns from the University;

(e)        becomes an ex officio member of the Academic Senate;

(f)        ceases to hold the office or qualification from which membership of the Academic Senate derives, except where this occurs through academic promotion; or

(g)        in the case of a student representative, ceases to be an enrolled  student of the University.

7.2       Where a casual vacancy occurs in the office of an elected member other than the President, it will be filled as a casual vacancy in the following manner:

(a)        Where there is more than half of the original term remaining it will be filled by an election; or   

(b)        where there is less than half of the original term remaining, it may be filled by appointment of a person recommended by the President and agreed by a majority of the elected members of the Academic Senate or the Academic Senate may, by agreement, choose to not fill the casual vacancy.

(c)        A vacancy arising from an insufficient number of nominations for election to the Academic Senate may be filled by appointment of a person recommended by the President of Academic Senate, in consultation with the Faculty Pro Vice-Chancellors as appropriate, and agreed by a majority of the elected members of the Academic Senate.

The term of office of any person elected or appointed under clauses 7.2(a), (b) or (c) will be for the remainder of the original term.

8.      President of the Academic Senate

8.1       The President shall be elected by the full-time members of the academic staff of the University from amongst the Professors and Associate Professors.

8.2      The term of office for the President will be three years.

8.3      The maximum consecutive terms of office for a President is two terms.

8.4       A vacancy in the office of President will be filled by election and the term of office for the person so elected will be as in clause 8.2. The term of office will either commence on:

a)  the date that vacancy occurs; or

b)  or the date that the outcome of the election is declared;

whichever is later.

8.5      The functions of the President are to:

(a)  chair meetings of the Academic Senate;

(b)  approve agendas for and minutes of the Academic Senate meetings;

(c)  provide leadership in the development of academic policy through the Academic Senate and its committees;

(d)  represent the Academic Senate on University bodies;

(e)  be an official member of the University Council as provided for in the Act; and

(f)   undertake such other functions as the Academic Senate may determine by resolution from time to time.

9.      Deputy Presidents of the Academic Senate

9.1     There will be two Deputy Presidents of Academic Senate (“Deputy Presidents”).

(a)  One Deputy will have responsibilities for teaching and learning; and

(b)  One Deputy will have responsibilities for research.

9.2      Elected Level D or E members of the Academic Senate may nominate themselves as a candidate for either or both of the categories in clause 9.1.

9.3      The President may nominate from the elected Level D or E members of the Academic Senate one or more persons in either or both of the categories in clause 9.1, as they so choose.

9.4      Nominations will be made by completing and lodging a nomination form with the Returning Officer before the close of nominations.

9.5      If more than one nomination is received for a vacancy, the Academic Senate will, by secret ballot, using the preferential system of voting, determine from the persons recommended to it under clauses 9.2, 9.3 or 9.8(b) the person to be elected as Deputy President for each category in which there is a vacancy, at its first meeting after the announcement of the vacancy or as soon as practicable thereafter.

9.6      A Deputy President will serve for a term of office of up to two years as determined by the Academic Senate. The Academic Senate will determine the commencement and expiry date of the term of office, taking into account the member's term of office on Academic Senate and the need to stagger membership.

9.7     The maximum consecutive terms of office of a Deputy President is two terms.

9.8      A casual vacancy in the office of a Deputy President is to be filled by:

(a)  appointment of the last person eliminated in the ballot conducted under clause 9.3 for the remainder of the term in which the vacancy has occurred; or

(b) in the event that there are no further persons remaining from the ballot in clause 9.3, by election of a member from the Level D or E members of the Academic Senate, elected by the Academic Senate by secret ballot for the remainder of the term in which the vacancy has occurred.

9.9     Functions of the Deputy Presidents:

(a)  The Deputy responsible for teaching and learning will be the deputy chair of the Teaching and Learning Committee, with the Deputy Vice-Chancellor responsible for teaching and learning to be the chair.

(b)  The Deputy responsible for research will be the deputy chair of the Research Committee, with the Deputy Vice-Chancellor responsible for research to be the chair.

(c)  The role of the Deputy President in relation to each of the committees in Clauses 9.9(a) and 9.9(b) above is to include setting the committee meeting agendas with the chair.

(d)  The role of each Deputy President will principally be focused on issues and development of policy within the ambit of the Academic Senate, lead major projects of the Academic Senate and engage with the respective Assistant Deans.

(e)  During any absence of the President, the President will appoint one Deputy President to act as President who will have all of the functions of the President.

(f)  In the event that the President is unable to appoint one Deputy President, the Returning Officer will appoint one Deputy President, by lot, to act as President with all the functions of the President.

10.    Removal from Office of President and Deputy Presidents of the Academic Senate

10.1   The Academic Senate may, by votes of two thirds of its membership in favour of motions of no confidence, recommend to the Council that action is initiated for the removal from office of the President or/and the Deputy President(s) of the Academic Senate, where the President or/and the Deputy President(s) have lost the confidence of the Academic Senate.

 

11.    Functions of the Academic Senate

11.1    The By-law made pursuant to the Act provides that Regulation 32 Functions of the Academic Senate:

The Academic Senate is the principal academic body in the University, and has the following functions:

(a) to advise the Council on matters concerning the academic activities of the University,

(b) to consider, and report to the Council on, any matter referred to it by the Council,

(c) to refer matters to any faculty, school, board or other body within the University for consideration and report,

(d) to consider, and report to the Council on, any proposal concerning teaching, scholarship or research that is made by any faculty, school, board or other body within the University,

(e) to determine, after consultation with each of the faculties, schools, boards or other bodies concerned, any matter concerning any program or course of study or examination that is not solely within the province of any single faculty, school, board or other body,

(f) to consider, and report to the Council or to any other body within the University on any matter affecting the policies and activities of the University or of any such body,

(g) to exercise such other functions as may be conferred or imposed on the Academic Senate by the rules.

Regulation 33 Reference to Council of certain matters by Academic Senate

(1)  If:

(a)  the Academic Senate does not approve without amendment any proposal concerning teaching, scholarship or research that is made by a faculty, school, board or other body within the University, and

(b)  the faculty, school, board or other body so requests,  the Academic Senate must transmit the original proposal to the Council, together with the Academic Senate’s recommendations with respect to the proposal.

(2)  If the Council does not accept without amendment any recommendation of the Academic Senate with respect to the proposal, the Council must not make a final decision in the matter without further consultation with the Academic Senate.

(3)  This clause does not apply if, in the judgment of the Chancellor:

(a)  the matter is one of urgency in which it is necessary for an immediate decision to be made by the Council, or

(b)  the area of difference between the Council and the Academic Senate is not one of principle or major significance.

11.2     Further to the Functions of Academic Senate listed in Regulation 32 and Regulation 33 of the By-law, the Academic Senate:

(a)  is the principal advisory committee to the Council and the Vice-Chancellor on academic matters;

(b)  is the principal academic forum for discussion and deliberation on academic matters through informed and open discussion;

(c)  has the principal responsibility in the University to oversee and improve the University’s academic standards and quality, including through effective communication with senior management, the Council and the wider University;

(d)  actively engages in the development and progression of the strategic directions of the University;

(e)  makes recommendations to Council on the establishment and disestablishment of awards;

(f)   approves the introduction of new programs and courses and any subsequent program revisions and discontinuations;

(g)  develops, approves, monitors and reports on the implementation of academic policy; 

(h)  refers matters to any Faculty, School or any other body within the University for consideration and report;

(i)   maintains standing orders for the Academic Senate and its committees; and

(j)   has such other functions as are determined by resolution of the Council from time to time.

12.    Committees of the Academic Senate

12.1       The Academic Senate will have the following committees:

(a)  Academic Senate Executive;

(b)  Teaching and Learning;

(c)  Research;

(d)  Program and Course Approval;

(e)  Faculty Boards; and

(f)   such other committees as the Academic Senate by resolution determines.

12.2       The Academic Senate will develop and approve the membership and terms of reference for each of its committees and such other matters as the Academic Senate by resolution determines.

12.3       The Vice-Chancellor and the President of Academic Senate are, by virtue of office, members of all Academic Senate committees.

12.4       The term of office for all elected Academic Senate representatives on Academic Senate Committees will be for the period of their Academic Senate term of office, unless otherwise stated.

13.    Approval and Variation of the Constitution of the Academic Senate

This Constitution:

(a)  must be approved by resolution of the Council and takes effect from the date specified by resolution of the Council;

(b)  may only be varied or rescinded by resolution of the Council.

14.    Essential Supporting Documents

Academic Senate Executive Committee Terms of Reference

Teaching and Learning Committee Terms of Reference

Research Committee Terms of Reference

Program and Course Approval Committee Terms of Reference

Faculty Boards Committee Terms of Reference

Academic Senate Standing Orders 

Delegations of Authority Policy 000083

Rules Governing Electronic Ballots 001017  

15.    Related Documents

Academic Senate

University of Newcastle Act 1989

University of Newcastle By-law

Council

Committees and Other Bodies 

Approval AuthorityCouncil
Date Approved15 December 2006
Date Last Amended23 August 2013
Date for Review23 August 2016
Policy SponsorUniversity Secretary
Policy OwnerAcademic Registrar
Policy ContactDeputy Academic Registrar, Academic Administration
Amendment History

Ex-officio member Pro Vice-Chancellor (Central Coast Campus) rescinded by Council Resolution C13:162) 23 August 2013.

Amendments to elections (Clause 3.1) and membership (Clause 5.1) approved by Council (Resolution C13:162) (Doc AS13:068 – Attachment 1), for immediate implementation, 23 August 2013.

Amendments to the procedure for the election of Deputy Presidents of Academic Senate (Section 9), approved by Council 25 May 2012.

19 August 2011 The Council approved the amendments to Clauses 3 and 7 of the Interim Constitution of the Academic Senate [000402].

New Interim Constitution approved by Council 21 May 2010 with effect 1 July 2010 (C10:082).

Membership Clauses amended: 21 April 2010, by Chancellor and Vice-Chancellor, under delegated authority.

Amended: 29 April 1999, 9 December 1999, 23 June 2000, 9 March 2001, 26 October 2001, 14 May 2004, 17 December 2004, 1 July 2005, 16 December 2005.

First Approved: 30 October 1998