The University of Sydney is a leading, comprehensive research and teaching community. It aims 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, and it can make a strong claim to be the first university in the world to admit students purely on the basis of academic merit, albeit only male students at that time. It was also among the first universities in Australia to admit women students in the 1880s.
Under the University of Sydney Act 1989 (as amended), the University’s principal functions include:
- the provision of facilities for education and research of university standard
- the encouragement of the dissemination, advancement, development and application of knowledge informed by free enquiry
- the 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
- the participation in public discourse
- the conferring of degrees, including those of bachelor, master and doctor, and the awarding of diplomas, certificates and other awards
- the provision of teaching and learning that engage with advanced knowledge and enquiry.
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.
The Senate oversees all major decisions concerning the conduct of the University, including staff appointments and welfare, student welfare and discipline, financial matters and the physical and academic development of the University.
Comprised of 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.
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 Senior Executive Group (SEG), a management decision-making body including the deans of faculty. SEG is representative of the diverse academic and administrative communities in the University and is accountable to Senate for the academic and financial health of the University.