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These notes aim to provide Senate members with information about the University’s governanceand management structures.
Governance structure
One of the most significant features of the University’s governance structure (see attached….. diagram) is that power and authority is very widely distributed in the University, via a range of statutory and other formal delegations recorded in the University’s delegation schedules, so thatthe Senate as the governing authority can discharge its responsibility under the UWA Act (to StateParliament) for "the entire control and management of the affairs and concerns of the University".The Senate’s brief would be impossible to achieve without substantial delegation, and the primaryones are:(i) the delegation (through Statutes 8 and 19) to Academic Board and the Faculties of responsibility for all academic matters (curriculum content, course structure, admissions,assessment); and(ii) the delegation (through Statute 10) to the Vice-Chancellor as the University's Chief ExecutiveOfficer, for the management of the University - specifically "for the academic,administrative, financial and other business of the University".The appointment of a Vice-Chancellor is probably Senate’s most significant responsibility, followedby the manner in which it holds a Vice-Chancellor to account (largely through the Chancellor).In practice then, the University's governance is a mix of 3 interacting systems:- the Senate system - through which the Senate (and its standing committees) exercises itscustodial, legislative and strategic role- the Academic system - through which Academic Board and the Faculties regulate theacademic activities of the University (NB the Academic Council is the Board's executivecommittee and has no statutory authority of its own).- the Executive system - through which the Vice-Chancellor as CEO exercises the delegatedauthority of Senate to manage the University, with further delegations made to otherprincipal officers, such as the Executive and the Deans.(Note: Schools have no statutory place in the formal governance structure of the University. Theirformal importance in governance comes largely from the delegations of the VC's authority instaffing and financial matters through Deans to Heads of School, who also hold ex-officiomembership of the Academic Board and Faculties. Discipline groups have no formal place inUniversity governance; they are an informal element in the structure designed to foster academics’interests.)A key principle in the design of this system is to achieve maximum alignment between academicand resource decision-making at as many points of contact as possible in the 3 sub-systems, asindicated by the connecting lines on the governance structure chart.
The development of these interacting systems has been influenced as follows:- historically UWA has a very strong academic culture with a resulting strong ethos of consultative and participatory decision-making. This is enshrined in the statutory place of the Academic Board and the Faculties in our system, but also, for example, in the VC'spractice of reporting regularly to Academic Board on the budget (unusual in the Australian….. system) (see attached diagram of the University’s principal committees).- more recently the University has also developed a strong management system with increasingreliance placed on individuals for both academic and resource management. The devolutionof financial authority to Deans of Faculties is a good example and the 2002 restructure alsohad as one of its explicit objectives the strengthening of management at and below thefaculty level.In UWA’s culture therefore a high value is placed on transparent, consultative decision-making withstaff having the opportunity to provide meaningful input into decisions that significantly affectthem. It relies on individual professional integrity and as such is a high performance culture ratherthan a high compliance culture. UWA has a very collegial style of management by systemstandards.
The management structure is based on a portfolio system in which the members of the Executive….. hold a mix of policy portfolios and line management responsibilities (see attached chart).The Vice-Chancellor, as well as his general leadership role, holds the external relations andplanning and budget portfolios; the Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor, as well as the general deputyrole and line manager of the faculty deans, holds the staffing policy and cultural activitiesportfolios. The Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education)’s portfolio includes teaching and learning, thestudent learning experience and international education policy; the Deputy Vice-Chancellor(Research and Innovation) has research and research training, industry liaison andcommercialisation; the Executive Director (Academic Services) and Registrar is responsible foracademic services and is essentially the Chief Administrative Officer; and Executive Director(Finance and Resources) covers finance and resources (including HR and IT) and is essentially theChief Financial Officer.The most striking feature of these arrangements is the way in which policy portfolios held by Vice-Chancellery members are coupled with line management responsibility held by the two ExecutiveDirectors. This is a critical element of the UWA system with quite significant implications forgovernance and management. The main principle is that institution-wide (horizontal) policyportfolio management through the Vice-Chancellery is designed to complement the devolved(vertical) line-management responsibility of faculties and the Central Administration, to achieveinstitutional cohesion.An important feature of the Executive structure is that it exemplifies the partnership betweenacademic and professional/general staff. The Vice-Chancellery comprises academic leaders whohave moved from being practising and prominent academics, to academic leader/managers;whereas the two Executive Directors have come to their leadership positions as careeradministrator/managers.Another key feature of this system is collegiality. This model is highly collegial in that it relies onindividual academic leaders and administrators working closely with a wide range of Universitycommittees and a wide cross-section staff, in a consultative and open manner. In additionfaculties and schools have in place advisory boards in order to gain an external perspective on theirstrategic directions.
So how does it work?The Research portfolio is provided as an example.
The Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation) holds the overall portfolioresponsibility. This is a policy and leadership role but not, in the main, a line managementrole. Individual researchers are line managed by Heads and Deans; individual researchadministrators by the Registrar. The DVC role is strategic in focus aimed at positioning theUniversity to improve its research performance and standing nationally and internationally.As such it involves working closely with Deans, Heads of School, the University's researchcommunity, its research administrators, and external parties.
The Director of Research Services is the principal professional research administrator andoperates within the Registrar's Office in the Central Administration. He works with theDVC(R&I) in support of the University's research effort. It is an administrative andmanagement role that involves policy advice, interaction with the faculties and schools,individual researchers, and external bodies. The job involves aligning the operations of theResearch Services division with the University's policies and priorities. The Directortherefore works closely with both the DVC(R&I) and the Registrar to achieve that.
The Research Committee of Academic Council provides the academic policy input from theformal committee system. The DVC(R&I) chairs the Research Committee, and the Director of Research Services is its Executive Officer, effectively linking the three elements of executiveleadership, collegial input and professional administration.
Deans of Faculties and Heads of Schools are responsible for individual researchers andresearch activity across the University, and for working with the DVC(R&I) and ResearchServices on encouraging research performance.In the example above the Executive has a leadership role, working with the academic committeesystem on policy, and the administration on policy and operations, and with Deans of Faculties, Headsof Schools and key researchers around the University. In essence, therefore, it is a model whichembodies the distributed responsibility principle which permeates the whole University system.This same system essentially operates in all the major portfolios - teaching and learning, staffing,planning and budgeting, external relations and IT.

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