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UNE Council Charter

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Section 1 - Overview & Scope

(1) The UNE Council Charter outlines the role of the Council in the structure and governance of the University of New England.

(2) The University of New England (ABN 75 792 454 315) is a body corporate constituted and empowered pursuant to the University of New England Act 1993 (NSW) (‘UNE Act’) and University of New England By-law 2005 (‘UNE By-law’).

(3) In accordance with the UNE Act, the Body of the University comprises the UNE Council, Convocation, the University's graduates and students as well as fulltime members of staff as the UNE By-law may prescribe.

(4) Within this Charter:

  1. Part A - outlines the authority, function and primary roles and responsibilities of the Council
  2. Part B - describes the Council's relationship with management and the Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive Officer (VC&CEO)
  3. Part C – describes the composition and structures of Council
  4. Part D – outlines the role of Council Members including the Chancellor and Deputy Chancellor
  5. Part E – provides the Council’s Code of Ethics
  6. Part F – identifies details of specific Council operations and support for Council Members.

Part A - Council Authority, Function and Primary Role

Council Authority

(5) The UNE Council as the University's governing authority, has functions conferred upon it by the UNE Act (in section 16 and elsewhere in the UNE Act, UNE By-law and Rules). Council:

  1. acts for and on behalf of the University in the exercise of the University's functions;
  2. has the control and management of the affairs and concerns of the University; and
  3. may act in all matters concerning the University in such manner as appears to the Council to be best calculated to promote the object and interests of the University.

Council Function

(6) The overriding function of Council is to provide strategic leadership to the University. Council should have regard to the community it represents and ensure that the decisions that it makes reflect the values and expectations of its stakeholders and the community at large.

Council Primary Responsibilities

(7) Council undertakes the following specific functions as its primary responsibilities, without limiting its broader functions or its capacity to fulfil other responsibilities:

  1. Monitor the performance of the VC&CEO;
  2. Oversee and monitor the University's performance;
  3. Oversee and monitor the academic activities of the University;
  4. Approve the University's mission, strategic direction, annual budget and business plan;
  5. Oversee and monitor risk management and risk assessment across the University;
  6. Approve and monitor systems of control and accountability for the University;
  7. Approve significant University commercial activities;
  8. Establish policies and procedural principles for the University consistent with legal requirements and community expectations;
  9. Ensure that the University's grievance procedures, and information concerning any rights of appeal or review conferred by or under any Act are published in a form that is readily accessible to the public;
  10. Regularly review its own performance;
  11. Adopt a statement of its primary responsibilities; and
  12. Make available for members of the Council a program of induction and of development relevant to their role as such a Member.

(8) While retaining its governance responsibilities, Council may have an appropriate system of delegations to ensure the effective discharge of these responsibilities. The Council may make rules in relation to any activity or function of the University provided they are consistent with the UNE Act and the UNE By-law.

Part B - Council Relationship with Management and Vice-Chancellor

Council relationship with Management

(9) With Council's role being to govern the University, the day to day management of the University is provided by the VC&CEO and their management team. To enable management of the University, the Council is responsible for:

  1. appointing and monitoring the performance of the VC&CEO; and
  2. establishing a delegation of authorities (refer UNE Delegations Framework Rule) that support the efficient and effective operation of the University, and where:
    1. any authorities reserved by the Council are duly identified;
    2. the functions and delegations of the VC&CEO are clearly expressed; and
    3. any functions or authorities that remain unassigned will default to the Council.

Role and Responsibilities of the VC&CEO

(10) The Vice-Chancellor is the University’s Principal Academic Officer and Chief Executive Officer (CEO).

(11) The role of VC&CEO and its functions is determined by the UNE Act and includes official membership of the University's Council.

(12) The VC&CEO is:

  1. responsible for the management of the University and the implementation of the University's Strategic Plan;
  2. has charge of UNE’s administrative and financial activities and manages the direction of the University's corporate planning, budget activities and implementation of policy;
  3. has functions delegated by the Council which are summarised in the Vice-Chancellor Functions Rule and expressed in the UNE Delegations Framework and schedules; and
  4. as the Chief Officer of a public entity, the VC&CEO has specific responsibilities in relation to compliance with various regulatory requirements.

(13) With respect to the VC&CEO's 's relationship to Council:

  1. it is the function of the VC&CEO of the University to implement the Council's policies, to present strategies, and to be accountable to the Council for their implementation;
  2. the VC&CEO reports to the Council regarding the performance of the University and makes proposals to the Council for approval for those decisions reserved to the Council; and
  3. the VC&CEO in conjunction with the Chancellor and Director Governance and University Secretary have a role in ensuring the Council is properly informed about the matters of the University.

(14) The VC&CEO provides supervision to and receives support from a team of senior executives who provide strategic, policy and operational advice relating to their individual portfolios and the organisational hierarchy is outlined in UNE’s organisational chart.

(15) The VC&CEO may authorise committees of management, noting that the role of such management committees is to advise the relevant manager who retains the authority and responsibilities for those decisions.

Part C - Composition and Structures of Council

(16) UNE Council is composed of official, elected and appointed members as defined by the UNE ActUNE By-law and UNE Council Charter - Annexure 4 - Constitution of Council see summary in Table 1 below).

(17) Council is to have a majority of external members and a mix of skills, diversity and experience consistent with Part 3, Division 1 of the UNE Act and as agreed to by the Council as relevant to the effective governance of the University.

(18) The Council considers the mix of skills, levels of experience and personal attributes on the Council to inform professional development of Council as well as appointments of new members.

Table 1 – Council Composition Summary
Council Composition
13 members

3 Official members

Chair of Academic Board
2 Minister–appointed members
5 Council-appointed members
At least 2 are to be UNE Graduates

3 Elected members

1 Academic Staff member
1 Professional Staff member
1 Student member

Council Committees

(19) Under its powers of delegation (section 17 of the UNE Act), the Council establishes Committees of Council that are responsible for the analysis, review and endorsement of recommendations from the University's management, as well as for the identification of organisational risk and opportunities.

(20) The Committees of Council, established to support the Council in the discharge of its functions and duties are outlined below with links to the detailed terms of reference approved and amended by the Council from time to time.

Academic Board [note Section 15 of the UNE Act; and Part 5 of the UNE By-law]
Oversees academic governance at the University, provides advice to the Council and VC&CEO on academic matters, and provides a forum for discussion of research, teaching and student engagement and support.
A key role of the Academic Board is to monitor the quality and integrity of the University's academic programs.
The Board reviews and has oversight of the governance frameworks and policy instruments that guide the scholastic activities of the University. It provides a link between the University's internal quality assurance arrangements and the accountability of the Council for the quality of the higher education the University offers and for meeting the requirements of the Higher Education Standards Framework.
The Academic Board has established committees including Academic Board Standing Committee; Teaching and Learning Committee; Research Committee; and Curriculum Committee.
Standing Committee of Council
Approves any matter and may pass any resolution (except a special resolution) within the Authority of Council that in the opinion of the Chair requires urgent attention.
Meets as needed, usually by flying minute/email.
Audit and Risk Committee of Council
Approves Council policies relating to function of internal audit, risk management, compliance,  business continuity and corruption and fraud.
Approves Internal audit plans, the annual timetable of audits, and risk management plan and Internal Audit Charter.
Advises Council regarding the Committee’s review of the process used for the preparation of financial statements.
Monitors external audit functions, internal audit functions, risk and fraud management, risk and regulatory compliance and control frameworks.
Finance and Infrastructure Committee of Council
Approves Council policies relating to financial matters and infrastructure (both technology and built infrastructure), including Management’s financial delegations from Council and Council's investment policy.
Approves, within its delegation, and exceeding VC&CEO delegation:
 – projects,  
 – investments and expenditure,
 – infrastructure plans
 – purchase, sale or lease of assets,
 – commercial activities,  
 – procurements,  
 – research, grant and funding agreements
including the associated business cases where relevant, or advises Council on such matters where the approval authority rests with the Council.
Project approval relates to the merit of a project.
Procurement approval relates to the procurement process and probity for an individual contract.
Approves within its delegation variations to budget, investment / expenditure / commercial / grants and agreements outside exceeding VC&CEO delegation.
Advises Council regarding the approval of UNE budget, annual financial statements and borrowings.
Monitors UNE’s financial performance, financial risk management, borrowings, controls/reporting systems, insurance/superannuation and commercial activities.
Receives advice on University Investment management and performance from the Investment Sub-Committee (as required).
Honorary Degrees Titles and Tributes of Council
Considers and make recommendations to Council on proposals for the award of honorary degrees, titles and tributes, conferment of Emeritus Professor, conferment of the title of Professor.
Innovation and Development Committee of Council
An advisory committee with the aim to stimulate the development and evaluate and provide feedback of new initiatives directed at continuous improvement and innovation in teaching; research; industry collaboration; and/or the business operations of the University.
Ensure that the University has allocated appropriate resources, and has effective processes, to develop a pipeline of initiatives.
Ensure that the University has processes in place to allocate resources to identified priority initiatives, including the agility and flexibility to redirect resources from activities that do not deliver the outcomes required to achieve the University's Strategic Plan to identified priority initiatives.
Nominations Committee of Council
Advise Council on the suitability of nominations for appointed members of Council.
Advise Council on submissions to the Minister for Ministerial appointments to Council, and
Advise Council in relation to recommendations for appointment of members to the Council by the Council.
Remuneration Committee of Council
Approve organisational structure of senior executive, remuneration policies and strategies, and range of salary packages of Senior Managers*.
Advise Council relating to collective industrial agreements (such agreements to be approved by Council).
Advise Council on recognition and reward for Council members and/ or for External Members of Council Committees who are not Council Members.
Monitor effectiveness of HR and IR policies and procedures and risks, collective industrial agreement negotiations, appointment and removal of Senior  Managers by the VC&CEO.
Monitor the implementation of Council's reward and recognition policies.
*NB: Please note the term ‘Senior Managers’ in this context has the meaning of the Senior Executive and other Senior Leaders engaged under Common Law Contracts.
Temporary or occasional Committees
The Council may convene a temporary committee of Council as needed for a specific purpose. Some occasion committees of Council include:
Chancellor's Selection Committee (convened as required to oversee the selection of new Chancellor with the approval of appointment resting with the Council)
Vice-Chancellor’s Selection Committee (convened as required to oversee the selection of new VC&CEO with the approval of appointment resting with the Council)
Governance Working Party (informal working group of Council to discuss general governance matters such as policy etc and advise the Council).

Part D - Role of Council Members

Role of the Chancellor and Deputy Chancellor

(21) The Chancellor is the Principal Officer of the University. The Chancellor role includes

  1. chairing Council meetings, overseeing the development of its agendas and providing leadership to Council so that it can meet its responsibilities and perform its duties as defined in the UNE Act;
  2. on Council's behalf, annually reviewing the VC&CEO's salary and performance using key performance indicators;
  3. advising and working with the Council and the VC&CEO, providing counsel and encouraging free, trusting and frank communication on all issues concerning the wellbeing of the University;
  4. together with the VC&CEO and Chairs of the Committees of Council, ensuring that Council has all the necessary information that it needs for decision-making;
  5. encouraging Council and senior management to work in a cohesive manner to the benefit of the University;
  6. acting as an important public face of the University, promoting the aims and objects of the University, having community influence and forging links with the broader community, companies and governments;
  7. without specific appointment, exercising the right of membership of any committee of the University;
  8. determining whether any matter may be brought to the Standing Committee of Council, which in the Chancellor's opinion, requires urgent attention; and
  9. officiating at Graduation Ceremonies and taking part in other significant University and public occasions.

(22) The Chancellor consults at least annually with individual Council members regarding the performance of the Council; with the Council and Senior Management to provide and receive advice; with members of the Community and stakeholders, and provides advice about the University and its partners, to the governments of the day.

(23) In the event that the Chancellor is unable to exercise their roles as above, the Deputy Chancellor shall have the power and authority vested in the Chancellor.

Role of Council Member

(24) All Council Members must have expertise and experience relevant to the role of the Council and an appreciation of the object, values, functions and activities of the University and agree to abide the Council's Code of Ethics.

(25) As responsible officers of the University, the members of the Council are subject to many of the requirements and liabilities imposed upon Company Directors under other State and Commonwealth legislation. Council Members are required to register as responsible persons with the Australian Charities and Not for Profits Commission (ACNC) and meet the criteria for a Fit and Proper Person as required by the Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency (TEQSA)).

(26) Council member duties, as set out in Schedule 2A of the UNE Act include:

  1. Fiduciary duty to act in the best interests of the University.
    1. Council members must carry other their functions in good faith, in the best interests of the University as a whole and for a proper purpose.
    2. Council members should understand their responsibility for oversight of University compliance with statutory obligations to ensure the University is not committing wrongful acts which incur penalties or otherwise expose members to personal liability (noting Schedule 1, clause 5 of the UNE Act regarding ‘Liability of Council members and others’).
  2. Duty to exercise care and diligence. A member of the Council must act honestly and exercise a reasonable degree of care and diligence in carrying out his or her functions.
  3. Duty not to improperly use position. A member of the Council must not make improper use of their position to gain, directly or indirectly, an advantage for the member or another person, or to cause detriment to the University.
  4. Duty not to improperly use information. A member of the Council must not make improper use of information acquired because of their position to gain, directly or indirectly, an advantage for the member or another person, or to cause detriment to the University.
  5. Disclosure of material interests by Council members. Members must, consistent with Schedule 2A clause 5 of the UNE Act and the procedures of the Council and Conflict of Interest Policy, maintain a register of interests, and disclose any potential or actual interests with regard to a matter to be or being considered by Council as soon as possible.
    1. Council members agree to abide by the determination of the Council as to their further participation in regards to a matter.

(27) Each Council member has the right for one vote on a matter before the Council. The majority of resolutions of the Council or Committee of Council require a majority of the members to vote in favour of the resolution [refer Schedule 1, clause 8 of the UNE Act) though some resolutions of the Council may require a greater than quorum majority vote to pass.

(28) To support their roles, Council members have access to insurance and protection, have access to the University Secretary, to a program of induction and professional development.

Part E - Council Code of Ethics

(29) In addition to the specific duties of Council members, the Council has determined and adopted a Code of Ethics for the University which is aligned with UNE values and supported by policies and guidance and for its members for ethical and appropriate conduct. The six principles are:

  1. Principle 1 - We treat others with respect, value difference and opinions. We seek to maintain a safe working environment.
  2. Principle 2 — In the performance of our duties, we serve the public good, including through our promotion of academic freedom and thereby also support the values and will act in the best interest of the University.
  3. Principle 3 - We act with honesty and integrity, transparency and openness.
  4. Principle 4 - We respect privacy and maintain confidentiality.
  5. Principle 5 – We promote best practice in workplace health and safety.
  6. Principle 6 - We comply with all applicable, industrial instruments, University Rules and Policies. 

(30) As a complement to the general Code of Ethics, the Council has identified and adopts four principles within its Governance Integrity and Standards Policy:

  1. Principle 1 – We act with integrity and professional conduct to foster a positive, purpose driven, ethical and responsible governance culture;
  2. Principle 2 – We value participation, equity, inclusion and diversity to ensure the membership of governing bodies and committees collectively represents the diversity of UNE Representatives and students.
  3. Principle 3 – Our governance roles and responsibilities have clear accountability and oversight to make effective and efficient decision; and
  4. Principle 4 – We are transparent and responsive, committed to ensuring quality and lawful standards of practice of our Governance functions whilst furthering UNE’s objects.

(31) In applying these principles the Council agrees to evidence the following in its governing manner:

  1. Council will deliberate and make decisions in a prudent and ethical manner, consistent with its Code of Ethics, and with the Council member duties (Schedule 2A of the UNE Act).
  2. Council will ensure that it is adequately provided with up-to-date, appropriate information on which to base decisions.
  3. Council will ensure that its policies are current, relevant, and comprehensive and that they meet requirements imposed by Governments and the external environment as well as responding to the needs of the University community.
  4. Council Members will declare interests appropriately at meetings of the Council and its Committees, and will also register relevant interests in a Register of Interests maintained by the Legal Office.
  5. Council Members will maintain confidentiality of information provided to them and evidence trust and respect for the activities of the Council and its Committees.
  6. Council will keep its major involvement with the strategic direction of the organisation rather than with administrative detail.
  7. Council will direct the organisation through the careful deliberation and establishment of policies.
  8. Council will be accountable to its stakeholders.
  9. Council will review its role and performance on an annual basis.
  10. Council members will respect it is the role of the Chancellor or in their absence the Deputy Chancellor or the VC&CEO to make public comment on behalf of Council.
  11. Council members will always act in good faith and seek to identify and support actions to address any wrongful acts of the University in relation to statutory offences.

University Secretary

(32) The University Secretary is appointed by the Council.

  1. The University Secretary, who is the Director Governance and University Secretary at UNE, is accountable to the Council, through the Chancellor, on all governance matters and reports directly to the VC&CEO in relation to their responsibilities as Director Governance.
  2. All Council members have access to the University Secretary.

(33) Key governance accountabilities of the University Secretary include:

  1. promoting a sound governance culture at the University;
  2. providing advice to Council and Council Committees and Boards to ensure they are sufficiently informed to fulfil their responsibilities and acting as an advice and liaison point for Council members;
  3. working with the Chancellor and VC&CEO to maintain strong and productive relationships between Council and the senior management of the University;
  4. communication with external stakeholders including the State Minister for Education, the relevant State Education Departments, Tertiary Education Quality & Standards Agency, and officers of the relevant Commonwealth Departments, in respect of governance compliance issues and Council resolutions which require notification to, or action by the Minister or the Department(s);
  5. providing secretariat support to committees/boards of the Council (including the Academic Board and its committees) and ensuring the smooth operation of Council committees/boards including management of meetings, agendas and minutes;
  6. ensuring Council Documents certification and administration (where administration includes the delegation to authorise minor administrative changes to Council documents);
  7. facilitating Council Members Induction and Professional Development;
  8. maintenance of Council and Committee/Board Membership registers and facilitating appointments (including acting as Returning Officer for Council and other elections) and attendance;
  9. overseeing University Seal custody, control, recordkeeping and reporting;
  10. maintenance of the delegations/policies/legislative framework (Statutes etc) including maintaining Council delegations, policy library and for publishing and managing amendments to the UNE Act, UNE By-law and Rules;
  11. overseeing information Privacy and Access responsibilities;
  12. other governance functions including oversight of the preparation and lodgement of the Annual Report and Records and Archives management; and
  13. making budget submissions to the University with regard to Council-related expenses.

(34) The University Secretary is supported by the Office of the Secretariat for management of the work of Council, Council Committees, Academic Board and Committees. The Secretariat may also support the boards of UNE Controlled Entities as agreed by those boards and as directed by the Director Governance and University Secretary.

Part F - Council Operations and Council Member Support

Standing Orders of Council

(35) The Council has established procedures for the calling of meetings and conduct of business at meetings and these are outlined in the associated policy to this Charter – Council Standing Orders.

Council member induction & development

(36) Council shall ensure that its members have the necessary skills required to fulfil their duties on Council.

  1. Upon their appointment, Council members are provided with an induction to the University Governance Framework, UNE Council Charter and Academic Board and to the University's operations.
  2. Council members are provided with ongoing development activities to support their understanding of the University's operations and to enhance and develop specific skills, capabilities and experiences that supports their role and duties as a Council Member.

Council Member protection

(37) Council members are offered a Deed of Indemnity which can help to indemnify Council Members against liabilities and costs incurred in their professional capacity as a Council Member and which outlines the University's obligations to maintain a Directors and Officers insurance policy. Council Members may view a copy of the University's insurance policy and/or seek support or information from UNE’s Insurance Officer at any time via

Council member remuneration

(38) By determination of the Council (consistent with Schedule 1, clause 10 of the UNE Act) the University has agreed to pay a modest stipend to its Council members who are not already in fixed term or continuing roles at UNE or employed by NSW Government. This includes the Student Member of the Council.

(39) The Council member remuneration schedule allows for scaled payments (inclusive of superannuation) for roles of Chancellor, Deputy Chancellor, and Council Member, noting that:

  1. Council members who are already in ongoing employment at UNE or who receive payments from NSW Government do not receive any additional remuneration; and
  2. an additional allowance may also be agreed for those Council members who Chair a Committee reporting to the Council, whilst that role is held.

(40) The Chair of Academic Board, who is an academic staff member elected by the Academic Board does not receive additional payment for their role as Chair of Academic Board and Council member, but their Faculty or School will receive a contribution from Governance budget of up to 100% of their salary to allow time for the Chair of Academic Board to fulfil their governance duties.

(41) The University also covers approved costs for Council members to attend and participate in Council meetings or other approved Council business.

Council evaluation

(42) The Council and each of its Committees undergoes an annual self-review of its performance, and undertakes an external review of the Council approximately every 3 years (consistent with the Voluntary Code of Best Practice for the Governance of Australian Public Universities). The performance reviews of the Council are considered in planning of the Council and Committee agendas, work plan, report templates, member development, and other matters relating to the business of the Council.

Council member terms of office, election, appointment or removal

(43) The UNE Act and UNE By-law provide for the:

  1. Terms of office for types of members [Part 3, Division 1, clause 7 of the UNE By-law]
  2. Vacation of office [Schedule 1, Clause 2 and 3 of the UNE Act] or casual vacancy [Part 3, Division 1, clause 8 of the UNE By-law]
  3. Process for removal from office of the Chancellor or Deputy Chancellor [Part 3, Division 2, Section 11A of the UNE Act]
  4. Appointment of the Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive Officer (VC&CEO) [Part 3, Division 2, Section 12 of the UNE Act]
  5. Removal of officer for breach of duty [Part 4A, Section 21G of the UNE Act]
  6. Election of members [Part 3, Division 2 of the UNE By-law]
  7. Appointment of members [Part 3, Division 3 of the UNE By-law]
  8. The Council has established policies relating to the appointment of the Chancellor and Deputy Chancellor and the appointment of the VC&CEO or either an Acting or Interim VC&CEO. These policies are associated documents to this Charter.
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Section 2 - Authority and Compliance

(44) The UNE Council Charter has the effect of a Rule is made by the Council consistent with section 29 of the University of New England Act 1993 (NSW).

(45) The Custodian Steward of this the UNE Council Charter, the Director Governance and University Secretary is authorised to make administrative updates to this Charter.

(46) Council members are bound by this Charter and must observe it relation to University matters.

(47) This UNE Council Charter operates as and from the Effective Date.

(48) Previous rules, policies and guidance within the scope of the Charter and their related documents are replaced from the Effective Date.

(49) Other policies associated with this Charter include:

  1. Council Charter - Annexure 1 - Council Meeting Procedures and Standing Orders
  2. Council Charter - Annexure 2 - Appointment of Chancellor and Deputy Chancellor
  3. Council Charter - Annexure 3 - Appointment of Vice-Chancellor or Acting Vice-Chancellor
  4. Council Charter – Annexure 4 – Constitution of Council