Annual Report

Our structure

Governance structure

Murdoch University’s enabling Act, the Murdoch University Act 1973, provides that the governingbody of the University is the Senate. The Senate hasthe “entire control and management of the affairs and concerns of the University”. Senate approvesthe Strategic Plan of the University, oversees its policiesand procedures, guides the programs and activitiesundertaken, and is ultimately responsible for allUniversity affairs.

To assist in the effective governance of the University, the Senate has established five committees and one sub-committee:

  1. Audit and Risk Committee, to help the Senate meet its governance and management control oversight responsibilities.
  2. Chancellor's Committee and Remuneration Sub-Committee, which advises the Chancellor on governance issues and reviews the performance, remuneration and succession plans for the Vice Chancellor and senior officers.
  3. Governance and Nominations Committee, which recommends the appointment of suitable Senate members, advises governance policy and Senate operating procedures, and ensures Senate activities are in accordance with the Murdoch University Act 1973. The amendments to the Murdoch University Act 1973 provide for the establishmentof a Nominations Committee to consider and recommend on appointments to Senate. This Committee will be established by the Senate in 2017.
  4. Honorary Awards and Ceremonial Committee, which awards honorary degrees and Senate medals, and oversees guidelines and policies relating to honorary degrees, Senate medals, graduation ceremonies and regalia.
  5. Resources Committee, which advises on a wide range of governance issues including financial control and sustainability, investment capability, campus development, commercial activities, the finances of the Guild of Students (in an advisory capacity) and other matters as relevant.

An External Review of Senate was commenced in 2016. This review considered the governance structure and arrangements of Senate including how Senate interacts with other committees within the University. The recommendations of this Review will be considered by Senate in early 2017.

The Senate appoints the Chancellor and Vice Chancellor, who in turn become Senate members. Corporate leader and philanthropist, David Flanagan, is Murdoch University's Chancellor. Mr Flanagan was re-appointed in 2016 for a second three-year term.

Professor Eeva Leinonen was appointed Vice Chancellor and commenced at the University in April 2016.

Under the organisational structure of Murdoch University, the Vice Chancellor is the chief executive officer and academic principal of the University. The Vice Chancellor is tasked with the leadership and development of the University, and the achievement of its Strategic Plan.

Senate has adopted the Voluntary Code of Best Practice for the Governance of Australian Universities (“the Code”) as a best practice governance benchmark. Under the Code the University is required to disclose in its Annual Report whether or not it complies. The University complies with the protocols contained in the Code.

Academic Council

Academic Council is the senior decision making body on academic matters, academic policies and the approval of academic offerings within the University as set out in Section 21 of the Murdoch University Act 1973. The current President of the Academic Council is Professor John Pluske. Following amendments to the Murdoch University Act, effective 2 January 2017, the President of Academic Council is an ex-officio member of the University’s Senate.

Academic Council plays an integral part in shaping and managing the academic environment as Murdoch implements, develops and continually improves its academic offerings in line with its Strategic Plan.

Following an Academic Governance Review conducted in 2014, with resulting outcomes implemented from 1 January 2015, the Academic Council was repositioned to be more strategic. The repositioning included a reform of the subcommittees to provide for decisions to be made at more appropriate levels thus adding to the efficiency and effectiveness of the academic governance framework. A review of the sub-committees is planned for 2017.

Risk management

The Senate, in accordance with its Statement of Governance Principles, has responsibility for setting risk management policy and critically monitoring the management of risk across the University, including commercial undertakings. The Senate has approved a Terms of Reference for the Audit and Risk Committee (ARC), which requires the Committee to confirm the University’s risk management framework is appropriate.

On a quarterly basis, the ARC receives reports from Internal Audit and from management, which address the University’s significant risks and systems of internal control. To facilitate assurance to Senate that risks are being appropriately addressed by management, the ARC submits its minutes to the Senate regularly in addition to an annual report on risk, internal controls and audit matters.

The Senate has also approved the University’s Risk Management Policy, which is consistent with conceptsin Standards Australia AS/NZS ISO 31000:2009, RiskManagement – Principles and Guidelines, and alignswith contemporary good practice. The policy sets outthe University’s approach to identification, managementand reporting of risks and specifies formal roles andresponsibilities for these activities.

Risk management framework

The University’s risk management framework was approved by the Audit and Risk Committee in February 2016. The framework underpins the continued roll out of good practice risk management aligned with AS/NZS ISO 31000:2009 Risk Management – Principles and Guidelines.

A Risk Management Advisory Group chaired by the Chief Operating Officer has been established with the primary role of providing advice to the Vice Chancellor on the University’s risk management strategy, framework, policy and operations.

Strategic risk

The University has a strategic risk document that highlights the critical strategic risks facing the University. The critical strategic risks that have been identified are actively controlled and monitored through a suite of actual and planned mitigating controls.

Fraud, corruption and misconduct control framework

The University has a fraud, corruption and misconduct control framework that includes the following:

  • Fraud, Corruption and Misconduct Policy
  • Fraud and Corruption Control Plan
  • Public Interest Disclosure Policy and procedures.

The fraud, corruption and misconduct control framework represents the commitment of the University to ensure effective risk management controls and practices to mitigate fraud, corruption and misconduct.

University continuity

The University has a University Continuity Strategy, University Continuity Guidelines and Critical Incident Management Plan. The Critical Incident Management Team meets regularly to drive the development and implementation of critical incident management plans, which form an integral part of the University continuity framework. The development of University Continuity Management Plans is progressing at Schools and Offices.

Download the Our Structure section of the Annual Report.