Frequently asked questions
This webpage provides answers to the following frequently asked questions about Senate:
- What does Senate do?
- When and where does Senate meet?
- What does the Chair (Chancellor) do?
- How is the Chancellor elected?
- Who are the members of Senate (Fellows of Senate)?
- What is expected of Fellows of Senate?
- Could I become a Fellow of Senate? If so, how?
- Can I attend a Senate meeting?
- When are Senate agenda items due?
- How can I find out what is on a Senate agenda?
- How do I know what decisions have been made at a Senate meeting?
- Where can I locate Senate policies, rules and resolutions?
- Where are now or amended rules published to take effect?
- How do I contact Senate?
- Can I obtain contact details for Fellows of Senate?
- How do I send invitations to Fellows of Senate?
- How do I submit an organisation's Annual Reports to Senate?
Updated 27 March 2014
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 of the University 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. It awards all degrees and diplomas and is responsible to the Parliament of NSW.
Find out more.
Senate normally meets eight times per year at approximately six weekly intervals.
Meetings are held at 3.30pm and last for approximately four hours.
Meetings of Senate may be adjourned to a convenient later time to conclude any unfinished business. Additional meetings of the Senate may be held on an ad hoc basis where required as a matter of urgency or workload.
There is also a Senate Retreat held during the year.
View the Senate meeting schedule.
The current Chancellor is Ms Belinda Hutchinson AM.
- is the Chair of Senate, presides over Senate meetings and exercises procedural control over meetings
- ensures that Senate functions effectively, with a paramount fiduciary duty of loyalty to act in the best interests of the University
- presides on important ceremonial occasions
- works co-operatively with the Vice-Chancellor, available to give counsel and encouraging communication on all issues concerning the well being of the University
- in consultation with the Vice-Chancellor, provides a high level bridge to members of the wider community.
The statutory powers and responsibilities of the Chancellor are defined under Section 10 of the University of Sydney Act 1989 (as amended) (and elsewhere in the Act, By-law and Rules).
The Chancellor is elected by Senate for a four year term of office.
There are normally 22 members of Senate, called Fellows of Senate (not Senators), who hold office for differing periods under various categories of membership.
View the Constitution of Senate, and the current list of Fellows of Senate by name or by category.
View their profiles here.
Being a Fellow of Senate involves obligations and responsibilities as well as an extensive induction program to introduce Fellows to the complexities of the University and the changing environment in which it operates.
The duties of Fellows of Senate are set out in Schedule 2A of University of Sydney Act 1989 (as amended). These duties are:
- to act in the best interests of the University as a whole
- to exercise care and diligence
- not to improperly use their position or to improperly use information
- to disclose material interests
Of the 22 positions on Senate, the following 12 are elected by eligible members of the relevant constituency:
- 4 academic staff members
- 1 non-academic staff member
- 1 undergraduate student
- 1 postgraduate student
- 5 graduates of the University of Sydney
The remaining 10 positions are either ex-officio or chosen by Senate or appointed by the NSW Minister for Education and Training.
There are strict eligibility criteria for candidates and voters for each of the above elections. These are set out in:
- Part 3 of the University of Sydney Act 1989 (as amended)
- Chapter 4 of the University of Sydney By-law 1999 (as amended)
View details about current and future Senate elections.
Any member of the University community, or other observers, may be present during the open session of Senate as long as there is seating available.
Deadlines for agenda items for each Senate meeting are set out here.
The general principle is that the item - at least in draft form - should be provided prior to the Pre-Senate agenda meeting.
The agenda summary for the open parts of each Senate meeting, which lists headings and recommendations, can be accessed prior to the meeting.
View Senate agenda summaries here.
Non-confidential decisions appear online after each Senate meeting
View Non-confidential Senate decisions here.
The minutes summary for the open part of each Senate meeting, which lists headings and resolutions, can be accessed after confirmation by Senate as a correct record at the following meeting.
View Senate minutes summaries here.
- Senate policies, rules and resolutions can be found on the Policy register.
- Links to Senate Rules can also be found here.
- Links to Senate resolutions can also be found here.
New and amended Senate Rules are published here.
The Chancellor can be contacted as follows:
- T: +61 2 9351 5701 (Chancellor's Assistant, Ms Joanne Saunders)
The Executive Officer to Senate, Mark Smith, can be contacted as follows:
- T: +61 2 9351 4260
- Tel: +61 2 9351 3268 (David Bradbury, Assistant to Senate)
Contact details for Fellows of Senate are confidential and are maintained by the Executive Officer to Senate.
If you are inviting Fellows of Senate to be guests at a University function, please:
- check the current list of Fellows of Senate to ensure that those invited are the current Fellows of Senate; and
- send the invitations as follows:
- forward the 24 invitations (includes two spares), each in a separate white external envelope labelled with the name of the Fellow, to David Bradbury A14 for distribution; OR
- email the invitation to for distribution.
Annual Reports for Senate's information
Annual Reports for the following are submitted to Senate:
- Abercrombie Street Child Care Limited (via DVC Education & Registrar)
- Centenary Institute for Cancer Medicine and Cell Biology
- Mandelbaum House (via DVC Education & Registrar)
- Student Appeals Panel - plus annual statistical report on cases of student discipline (via DVC Education & Registrar)
- Student Disciplinary Appeals Committee - annual statistical report on cases of student discipline (via DVC Education & Registrar)
- Student Proctorial Panel - annual statistical report on cases of student discipline (via DVC Education & Registrar)
- Women’s College (via DVC Education & Registrar)
Annual Reports considered by the Finance and Audit Committee on behalf of Senate
Annual Reports of other organisations are considered by the Finance and Audit Committee on behalf of Senate:
- those required to be submitted to Senate by their constitutions, e.g. Foundations, International House, SRC, SUPRA, SUSF and USU
- the Law Extension Committee
Copies should NOT be sent to the Executive Officer to Senate or to Fellows of Senate.
A pdf version should be emailed to , Executive Officer, Office of the Chief Financial Officer.