Charles Sturt University
Charles Sturt University

Role of Academic Senate

Academic Senate at Charles Sturt University is the peak academic decision making and quality assurance body of the University. It is a governance body rather than a procedural body. It is the custodian of the traditions of scholarship, academic discourse, collegiality and scholarly debate; most importantly, it must be involved in the formulation and maintenance of the University’s core institutional academic values. In a practical sense, it is also custodian of policy, process, quality control and institutional memory. It is a key place where issues affecting academic life can be discussed, and, if necessary, challenged.

The functions of Academic Senate derive from this model. In addition to the functions detailed in the By-law, the role and functions of Academic Senate are further defined in the Governance (Academic Senate) Rule 2018. These functions are listed below with examples of the ways in which they operate within the University. These are given as examples only and the operation of the functions should not be seen as being limited in any way by the examples listed.

(a)  To advise the Council and the Vice-Chancellor on all matters relating to teaching, scholarship and research conducted at or in connection with the University.

The type of advice provided for this function would be the provision of a considered view in relation to teaching, scholarship and research. The advice could be provided as a consequence of a request to the Academic Senate from the Council or the Vice-Chancellor or it could be advice initiated by the Academic Senate and provided to the Council or Vice-Chancellor.

Examples include;

  • where advice is requested by the Council – Council might query the Academic Senate regarding how ethical understanding and behaviour is acquired by students during the course of their studies at CSU;
  • where advice is requested by the Vice-Chancellor – the Vice-Chancellor might seek advice about the academic implications of any proposed re-structure, such as, the possible impact of a restructure on the future viability of a course or CSU discipline;
  • where Academic Senate determines that it should provide advice to Council – Academic Senate may advise Council that the risk management framework for the University is difficult to apply in academic programs; and
  • where Academic Senate determines that it should provide advice to the Vice-Chancellor - Academic Senate may advise the Vice-Chancellor on budgetary implications in relation to the implementation of the online learning strategy formulated by the Academic Senate.

(b)  To ensure the high quality of teaching and learning within the University by developing and implementing appropriate policies The Academic Senate’s responsibility in this function is to make certain that teaching and learning activities in the University are of a high quality.

Examples include;

  • the establishment of course accreditation policy and academic regulations (such as Assessment Regulations and Admission Regulations);
  • the establishment of policy for the use of forums.

(c)  To determine lists of graduands of the University specifying the award and the level of award that each of the graduands is to receive.

In accordance with this function, Academic Senate is responsible for determining the list of all students who are deemed to have completed the requirements for the conferral of an award of the University. Academic Senate has delegated to the Deans of Faculty the responsibility for the compilation of the graduand list (following their approval that the graduands have completed all course requirements and are eligible to graduate).

(d)  To advise the Vice-Chancellor on the teaching and research activities of the University and on the allocation of teaching and research responsibilities within the University’s faculties

The type of advice provided for this function would be the provision of a considered view in relation to teaching and research activities. The advice could be provided as a consequence of a request to the Academic Senate from the Vice-Chancellor or it could be advice initiated by the Academic Senate and provided to the Vice-Chancellor.

Examples include:

  • advice in relation to the allocation of funding to faculties in accordance with the performance based funding (PBF) model. (The PBF model itself was approved by the Vice-Chancellor but the criteria on which funding is based relate to academic standards and hence are approved by Academic Senate);
  • issues associated with the impact of organisational changes in faculties on academic activities.

(e)  To consider and report on all matters referred to it by the Council or the Vice-Chancellor

The Academic Senate’s responsibility in this function is to investigate any academic matters that may be referred to it.

Examples include:

  • the provision of advice and/or a report to the Council on the inclusion of ethics in course curriculum
  • the consideration and possible arbitration of questions of academic freedom in particular cases;
  • consideration of sector-wide policy or discussion papers, to provide an academic perspective for the University.

(f)  To make recommendations to the Council or the Vice-Chancellor about academic standards or facilities at the University

As the principal academic body of the University, the Academic Senate is responsible for assuring academic standards and ensuring that academic facilities meet course requirements.

Examples include:

  • recommendations in relation to future infrastructure needs of identified courses (eg: laboratory facilities for Science courses);
  • provision of an assessment of learning and teaching implications for major changes in organisational structure or infrastructure, such as Faculty re-structuring or the introduction of major learning and teaching platforms;
  • assessment of offshore operations for compliance with Senate quality requirements.

(Academic Senate resolutions AS 09/67 and AS 09/167 of 27.5.09 and 2.12.09 refers)