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Question and Answer Tracking Details

5182 - Skills and Tertiary Education - PUBLIC UNIVERSITY OVERSIGHT

Shoebridge, David to the Minister for Education and Early Childhood Learning representing the Minister for Skills and Tertiary Education, and Minister for Sport, Multiculturalism, Seniors and Veterans

(1) How does public oversight of the management of public universities currently occur?

(a) What are the mechanisms, regulations, laws and policies for public oversight?

(2) Is the Minister aware that current NSW legislation, introduced during the premiership of Barry O'Farrell, watered down provisions for independent oversight and accountability of university executives and senior management?

(3) Is it true that student and staff representation on university governing bodies has been reduced and the powers of academic senates to review or question executive decisions have also been reduced or removed in universities in NSW?

(a) Is this consistent with their public funding and mission?

(4) What steps has the Minister taken regarding the use of 'commercial-in-confidence' clauses to shield university executives them from financial scrutiny and accountability?

(5) What consultation with staff and students are required by university executives for decisions about staffing, curricula and expenditure?

(a) Are there plans to mandate increased consultation?

(6) Given the importance of the tertiary sector in terms of the education of our young people, the vital research it conducts, and its major contribution to the country's economy, why is there no federal or state legislation specifying the manner in which formal consultation with staff by university management should occur over all of these issues?

(7) Based on five-year averages, which university faculties and schools in the state/territory have the highest levels of international student enr0olments?

(8) Based on five-year averages, which university faculties and schools employ the most casuals to teach international students?

(a) If this information is not available, why not?

(9) Why are statistical and financial details that used to be contained in the annual reports of public universities only ten to fifteen years ago no longer contained in those reports?

(10) In what ways are universities required to conduct due diligence of their finances?


Answer -

I am advised:

NSW public universities are autonomous institutions responsible for their own administration. They are subject to regulation by the Commonwealth Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) whilst other Commonwealth bodies have responsibility for matters such as the collection of data on international student enrolments and university staff.

The Universities Governing Bodies Act 2011 (NSW) aims to give universities flexibility while ensuring key stakeholders remain appropriately represented. I am advised there has been no legislative change to the powers of Academic Senates to review or question executive decisions.

The Treasurer is responsible for the Annual Reports (Statutory Bodies) Act 1984, which prescribes a list of content that must be included in the annual list of statutory bodies, including universities.


Question asked on 24 March 2021 (session 57-1) and published in Questions & Answers Paper No. 463
Answer received on 14 April 2021 and published in Questions & Answers Paper No. 476