The University of Sydney is a leading, comprehensive research and teaching university – consistently ranked in the top 50 universities in the world (QS World University Rankings 2016-17). Our community includes more than 60,000 students, 6400 academic staff, and more than 300,000 alumni in 170 countries.

Our aim is to make lives better not just by producing leaders of society, but through equipping our people with qualities so they can meaningfully serve all of our communities at every level.

We aim to create and sustain a community in which, for the benefit of both Australia and the wider world, the brightest researchers and the most promising students can thrive and realise their full potential, whatever their social or cultural background.

This purpose resonates with the historical objectives of the institution. The University was incorporated by the Parliament of New South Wales on 1 October 1850, making it the first university to be established in Australia.

As a leader in tertiary education we have been challenging traditions for more than 160 years. We can make a strong claim to be the first university in the world to admit students purely on the basis of academic merit, and we were one of the first universities in the world to open our doors to women on the same basis as men.

Under the University of Sydney Act 1989 (as amended), the University’s principal functions include:

  • provision of facilities for education and research of university standard
  • encouragement of the dissemination, advancement, development and application of knowledge informed by free enquiry
  • provision of courses of study or instruction across a range of fields, and the carrying out of research, to meet the needs of the community
  • participation in public discourse
  • conferring of degrees, including those of bachelor, master and doctor, and the awarding of diplomas, certificates and other awards
  • provision of teaching and learning that engage with advanced knowledge and enquiry.

The Senate

The Senate is the governing authority of the University of Sydney and has the functions conferred or imposed on it by or under the University of Sydney Act 1989 (as amended).

The Senate's primary responsibilities are:

  • appointing the Vice-Chancellor as the principal executive office of the University, and monitoring his or her performance
  • approving the mission and strategic direction of the University, as well as the annual budget and business plan
  • overseeing and reviewing the management of the University and its performance
  • establishing policy and procedural principles, consistent with legal requirements and community expectations
  • approving and monitoring systems of control and accountability, including general overview of any controlled entities
  • overseeing and monitoring the assessment and management of risk across the University, including commercial undertakings and
  • overseeing and monitoring the academic activities of the University.

Comprising 22 fellows and chaired by the Chancellor, the Senate awards all degrees and diplomas and is responsible to the Parliament of New South Wales.

The Vice-Chancellor and Principal and the Chair of the Academic Board are both ex-officio members of the Senate.

The Academic Board

The Academic Board, which reports to Senate, is responsible for safeguarding the quality of the University’s academic activities. It is an elected body that includes staff and student representation from across the University’s academic communities.

The Academic Board provides advice to Senate and the Vice-Chancellor on all academic matters, including their relation to the University’s strategic priorities and policies, the conditions of appointment and employment of academic staff, the approval of new and revised courses and the maintenance of academic standards.

Executive Management

The Vice-Chancellor is the principal administrative officer, or chief executive, of the University and has line-management responsibility for a number of Deputy Vice-Chancellors who, with him, comprise the University’s executive team. Directors of strategic administrative areas within the University also report to the Vice-Chancellor.

The Vice-Chancellor chairs the University Executive (UE), a management body that includes the faculty deans. The UE is representative of the University’s diverse academic and administrative communities and reports to Senate for the University’s academic and financial health.