SEG and the strategic plan

The University of Sydney’s new management and governance arrangements, in place from January 2011, aim to broaden and deepen the engagement of senior management in detailed collective planning, underpinned by an ethos of mutual accountability and collaboration.

The authority vested by the statutes of the University in the person of the Vice-Chancellor is exercised through the University Senior Executive Group (SEG). SEG, which is chaired by the Vice-Chancellor, makes major management decisions affecting the University and is accountable to Senate for the academic and financial health of the University. Its companion body, the Academic Board, also reports to Senate and is responsible for safeguarding the quality of the University’s academic activities.

Underpinning SEG’s decision-making are committees and divisional boards which undertake detailed analysis and planning. The committees focus on key University-wide themes, such as education and research training, finance and infrastructure, and curriculum and course planning. The divisional boards are charged with detailed strategic planning, portfolio analysis, and educational and research reform for groups of cognate faculties. Their focus is not on University-wide strategies, but on the particularities of diverse educational and research communities. While all divisional boards will have common terms of reference relating to strategic planning, risk analysis, portfolio analysis and so on, each board will also develop specific terms of reference relevant to its local concerns. Likewise, board composition will vary according to the needs and requirements of each division.

The work of these committees and divisional boards intersects at many points. It is vital that the framework that is created does not position SEG as either the referee between competing committees or a postbox for proposals developed in isolation. Thus the divisional boards are established on the basis that, where relevant, they will refer matters of portfolio significance directly to the appropriate committee, rather than directly to SEG. Additionally, once each semester a meeting of the chairs of all committees will be held to ensure alignment and comprehensive coverage of all issues.

The following principles apply to committee and divisional board operations:

  • All committees and divisional boards are accountable to SEG, and thus to Senate.
  • In their work, all committees and boards are expected to give consideration to matters relating to Indigenous and international strategy, staff and students regardless of whether they are specifically addressed in their terms of reference.
  • Each committee will take care to ensure that, when an area of their deliberation touches on the remit of another committee, that committee is consulted.
  • Committee and board members will consult widely in preparation for meetings, and committees and boards will give consideration to the communication of the outcomes of their deliberations to stakeholders.
  • Committees may choose to revisit and refine their terms of reference, subject to SEG approval.
  • If a divisional board is unable to reach an agreement regarding an issue, or the dean of a faculty disputes a decision of the divisional board affecting their faculty, it may be referred to SEG for a binding decision.