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Terms of Reference (Council approved) - Research Committee

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Section 1 - Overview

Research Committee

(1) The Research Committee is established as a University Committee to support the Academic Board.

(2) These Terms of Reference for the Research Committee prescribe the following:

  1. the members of the Research Committee and the members' method and term of appointment;
  2. the functions of the Research Committee; and
  3. other matters in connection with the Research Committee and its operation.

(3) The establishment of this committee and the terms of reference of the committee to carry out the business of Academic Board are actions authorised under Section 23 of the UNE By-Law 2005. The provisions of these Terms of Reference take effect as a Council Rule made under Section 29 of the UNE Act.

Objectives

(4) The role of the Research Committee is to oversee and report to the Academic Board on the Academic Governance of research and research training at the University. 

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Section 2 - Research Committee Membership

Membership

(5) The Research Committee members are:

  1. Chair
    1. A Faculty Associate Dean (Research) appointed by the Chair of Academic Board.  The Chair of Academic Board may ask the Research Committee to recommend a candidate for appointment. 
  2. Members
    1. Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research
    2. A Deputy Chair of Academic Board who is not a member of the Teaching and Learning Committee
    3. Chair of Academic Board or nominee who is a senior academic (level D or E) and an elected member of the board
    4. Chairs of the University’s ethics committees
    5. Chairs of the Faculty Research Committees (normally the Associate Deans Research)
    6. Chair of the Graduate Research Subcommittee;
    7. University Librarian or nominee;
    8. One director of a research centre from outside the Faculties appointed by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research
    9. One member of academic staff or HDR Current Student who identifies as being of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent, appointed by the committee after an expression of interest process
    10. One early career researcher appointed by the committee after an expression of interest process, and
    11. One HDR Current Student appointed by the chair after consultation with a relevant student representative body or bodies
  3. Current Student member
    1. The HDR Current Student may be a student representative elected to Academic Board, but it is not a requirement.

In attendance

(6) The Research Committee can co-opt members in order to achieve or maintain gender balance, where the membership does not include at least two women and two men. At the discretion of the chair, the committee can also invite non-voting individuals as observers to attend regular or individual meetings, provide appropriate expertise as necessary and contribute to discussion.

Appointment procedure for appointed members

(7) Appointed members of the Research Committee are appointed when a vacancy occurs.

Appointments

(8) Appointment of members will be conducted as per these Terms of Reference and Academic Board’s Standing Orders.

Automatic vacancy by an appointed member

(9) An appointed position becomes vacant automatically if:

  1. the appointed member is absent without prior leave from three consecutive Research Committee meetings, or
  2. the appointed member loses his/her original qualification for appointment.

Acting ex officio members

(10) An ex officio member of the Research Committee includes a person who has been appointed on an 'acting' basis to the role.

Term of office

Ex officio members

(11) The ex officio members will be Research Committee members while they hold their primary office.

Appointed members

(12) The term of office of an appointed member is three years. Appointed members may stand for re-appointment.

Gender representation objectives

(13) Gender representation shall accord with the Gender Representation on Decision-Making and Advisory Committees Policy.

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Section 3 - Terms of Reference

Functions

(14) The functions of the Research Committee are: 

  1. To oversee the Academic Governance of research and research training at the University and report to the Academic Board on these matters, so as to enable the Academic Board to provide assurance (or otherwise) to the Council. 
  2. To the extent they relate to research or research training, the Research Committee will provide assurance (or otherwise) to the Academic Board that processes and structures are established and responsibilities are assigned that collectively:
    1. achieve effective academic oversight of the quality of research and research training
    2. set and monitor institutional benchmarks for academic quality and outcomes
    3. establish and maintain academic leadership at an institutional level, consistent with the types and levels of higher education offered, and
    4. provide competent advice to the Academic Board and management on academic matters, including advice on academic outcomes, policies and practices.
  3. To the extent they relate to research or research training, the Research Committee will provide assurance (or otherwise) to the Academic Board that academic oversight assures the quality of research and research training effectively, including by:
    1. developing, monitoring and reviewing academic policies and their effectiveness
    2. confirming that delegations of academic authority are implemented
    3. critically scrutinising, approving and accrediting or advising on approving and accrediting, courses of study and their associated qualifications
    4. maintaining oversight of academic and research integrity, including monitoring of potential risks
    5. monitoring and initiating action to improve performance against institutional benchmarks for academic quality and outcomes
    6. critically evaluating the quality and effectiveness of educational innovations or proposals for innovations
    7. evaluating the effectiveness of institutional monitoring, review and improvement of academic activities, and
    8. monitoring and reporting to the Academic Board on the quality of research and research training.
  4. To the extent it relates to research or research training, the Research Committee will provide assurance (or otherwise) to the Academic Board that Students have opportunities to participate in Academic Governance.
  5. The Research Committee will consider new University rules and policies that are developed in relation to research or research training, and any replacement or major changes to them.  If the rule or policy is considered to be in order then the Research Committee will recommend it to the Academic Board for endorsement.
  6. The Research Committee may exercise such other authority as may be delegated to Research Committee in a University Rule.

General

(15) The Research Committee may form working groups from time to time to undertake specific projects and tasks related to their functions.

Authority

(16) The Research Committee is authorised to seek data and information from the University through the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research to meet the Research Committee's functions.

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Section 4 - Related Committees 

(17) Each Faculty will have a Committee that oversees research and research training matters at a Faculty level.

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Section 5 - Authorities

Committee of Academic Board

(18) The Research Committee is established as a committee of Academic Board to perform the functions set out in the terms of reference above and all matters ancillary to those functions.

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Section 6 - Conduct of Business

Reporting

(19) The Research Committee reports to the Academic Board.

Meetings

(20) The Research Committee will meet at least five times per year or otherwise as required, in order to perform its functions.

Business papers

(21) Unless the Chair directs otherwise, Research Committee business papers will be distributed to members and official attendees at least seven days prior to the meeting, or such shorter period as is practicable in the circumstances.

(22) Public disclosure of business papers, minutes and other information received by the Research Committee should only be made via the Chair or Secretary to the committee.

Quorum

(23) At any meeting of the committee, one half of the voting membership plus one constitutes a quorum.

Use of technology

(24) For its business papers, meetings and otherwise to conduct its business, the University Research Committee and its members may use technology including telephone, video-conferencing, telepresence, email and internet as arranged by the Chair and/or Secretary to the committee.

Resolutions

(25) The Research Committee may pass a resolution by 'flying minute' provided that the resolution has been approved by a simple majority of committee members at the time the resolution is made.

Confirmation of minutes

(26) Draft minutes will normally be circulated to members for comment promptly after each meeting. Next, the minutes (with any necessary changes) will be circulated for adoption by the Research Committee. The minutes will be finalised and adopted when they have been approved by a majority of the members that were present at the relevant meeting. Alternatively, the minutes may be included in the business papers for the next committee meeting and considered and adopted by the committee at that meeting.

Self-review

(27) Once annually the Research Committee shall devote part of one meeting to the review of its policies, practices and procedures over the preceding twelve months.

Secretary to Research Committee

(28) The University Secretariat will provide secretarial and administrative support.

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Section 7 - Definitions and Interpretation

Definitions

(29) Words and phrases used in this document have the following meanings, unless the context requires otherwise:

  1. Academic Governance means the framework of policies, structures, relationships, systems and processes that collectively provide leadership to and oversight of the University’s academic activities (teaching, learning and scholarship, and research and research training) at an institutional level.
  2. Current Student means a person who is at the time a Student and who is enrolled in a higher degree course.
  3. Senior Executive means the Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive Officer and her/his direct reports above Director level.
  4. Student means a person who has been accepted into a higher degree by research course at the University.
  5. UNE Act means the University of New England Act 1993 (NSW).
  6. UNE By-law means the University of New England By-law 2005 (NSW).

Interpretation

This document should be interpreted using the following principles.

(30) Where Research Committee membership is defined by reference to an office held (e.g. 'Chair of Academic Board'), that office-bearer is a member ex officio and has all of the same rights and responsibilities (including voting) as other committee members whilst holding the office specified.

(31) This document does not override or otherwise affect:

  1. the Authorities Retained by Council Rule; or
  2. the Functions of the Vice-Chancellor Rule.
  3. however, it operates under the authority vested in Academic Board by the UNE Act and UNE By-law to establish committees and terms of reference to carry out the business of Academic Board.

Governing documents

(32) The existing terms of reference governing the Research Committee at the time these new Terms of Reference are approved, are replaced and have no further operation.