University legislation and policies


The University of Sydney Act 1989

(a) The University of Sydney as a legal entity

The University of Sydney was established in 1851 by Act 14 Vic No 31 and is a statutory corporation under The University of Sydney Act (as amended). The University should be described as 'The University of Sydney' on all legal documents together with its ABN which is 15 211 513 464.

Pursuant to subsection 6(1) of the Act, the objects of the University are the promotion, within the limits of the University's resources, of scholarship, research, free enquiry, the interaction of research and teaching, and academic excellence.

Under the Act, the University may exercise commercial functions comprising the commercial exploitation or development of any facility, resource or property of the University or in which the University has a right or interest, whether alone or with others, for the benefit of the University. University commercial activities are distinct, however, from the University's principal function which is the promotion of its objects under the Act.

The Act makes provision for Guidelines to be approved requiring specified processes and procedures to be followed in connection with University commercial activities. These Guidelines apply to commercial activities in which the University or controlled entities of the University participate.

(b) The role of Senate

Senate is the governing authority of the University and has the functions conferred or imposed on it by or under the Act.

The functions of Senate (as set out in section 16 of the Act) are to act for and on behalf of the University in the exercise of the University's functions. The Senate's role is to control and manage the affairs and concerns of the University and act in all matters concerning the University in a manner calculated to promote the object and interests of the University.

Senate has the power, under section 17 of the Act, to delegate any or all of its functions in relation to any matter or class of matters, or in relation to any activity or function of the University – see University of Sydney (Delegations of Authority – Administrative Functions) Rule 2010. The Act does not permit sub-delegation of authority.

Senate may, under section 36 of the Act, make by-laws, not inconsistent with the Act, in relation to any matter that is required or permitted to be prescribed or that is necessary or convenient to be prescribed for carrying out or giving effect to the Act. These by-laws may empower any authority (including the Senate) or officer of the University to make rules (not inconsistent with the Act or the by-laws) for or with respect to any or all of the matters about which by-laws may be made, subject to a number of exceptions which are set out in section 37 of the Act.

Current by-laws and rules can be found on the Policy Register.


Other key legislation

(a) Charitable fundraising and tax deductible status

Under the laws of New South Wales, the University is constituted for a charitable purpose and is therefore able to carry out charitable appeals.

Donations ($2 and over) to the University may be claimed as tax deductions as the University has been endorsed by the Australian Taxation Office as a deductible gift recipient for Australian income tax purposes.


Subsections of the University and controlled entities

All faculties, departments, schools, foundations, centres and some institutes of the University are part of the University, as are bodies that have amalgamated with the University, such as the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and Sydney College of the Arts. These bodies do not have a legal identity separate from that of the University.

The following societies have been established by resolution of Senate. They are governed by their respective constitutions (subject to the applicable Senate resolution) and are considered to be unincorporated associations.

  • The University of Sydney Union
  • The Students' Representative Council ('SRC')
  • The Sydney University Postgraduate Representative Association ('SUPRA')
  • Sydney University Sport
  • The Cumberland Student Guild
  • The Student Association of the Sydney College of the Arts ('SASCA').

Other entities which are also connected with the University do have separate legal status, such as joint ventures, cooperative research centres ('CRCs') and some institutes.

As a statutory body, the University is subject to a number of other state and federal laws including:

  • Public Finance and Audit Act 1984
  • Annual Reports (Statutory Bodies) Act 1984
  • Ombudsman Act 1974
  • Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009
  • State Records Act 1998
  • Independent Commission Against Corruption Act 1988
  • Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998
  • Federal and state anti-discrimination laws
  • Fair Work Act 2009.