Statutory and Policy Framework

Western Sydney University Act 1997

This Act establishes the University as a corporate entity and sets out its object and functions. In particular it defines the membership, functions and powers of the governing body of the University, the Board of Trustees.

There are particular provisions related to the University's: commercial and investment powers; main office-holders; duties of members of the Board; delegation authority; powers related to property matters; and powers to make by-laws and rules.

The latest version of the Act is available from the NSW Parliamentary Counsel's Office website (opens in a new window).

Western Sydney University By-law 2017

The By-law deals primarily with the constitution of the Board of Trustees and in particular with elections for Board members and office holders, including the Chancellor.

The latest version of the By-law is available from the NSW Parliamentary Counsel's Office website (opens in a new window).

The History of the University

The University of Western Sydney commenced operation from 1 January 1989 following the passage of the University of Western Sydney Act 1988.

The University was established at a time of considerable change to higher education in Australia flowing from the Federal Government's White Paper released by the Hon John Dawkins in July 1988. Under that paper the binary system of higher education comprising colleges of advanced education and universities was replaced with a university only system. This resulted in a range of amalgamations and new universities across Australia in the late 1980's.

The University of Western Sydney was slightly unique in this process in that although it was formed through the amalgamation of a number of colleges, the desire and imperative for a dedicated university to serve the Greater Western Sydney region had been gaining momentum for many years prior to the reconfiguration of the sector. Lobbying by regional groups, local government authorities and local members of Parliament at both State and Federal levels over a considerable period of time resulted in a joint Commonwealth/State working party and shortly thereafter in 1985 the NSW Government established a Ministerial Committee to review the structure of higher education in Western Sydney.

The report from this review proposed a multi-campus 'State' university initially to be formed from the Hawkesbury and Nepean Colleges but subsequently the NSW Labor Government supported a new university, Chifley, separate from these Colleges. However, with the election of the Greiner government in 1988 and combined with the momentum of the Dawkins reforms, further consideration was given to the structure of the university that would serve the region.

While a range of options were considered, the 1988 Act provided for the establishment of the new University as a 'federated' institution formed from the Hawkesbury Agricultural College and the Nepean College of Advanced Education. The University was initially established with a formal association with the University of Sydney as 'academic sponsor' and Professor John Ward, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sydney also undertook the role of Acting Vice-Chancellor of the University of Western Sydney for nine months in its foundation year. In late 1989 the Macarthur Institute of Higher Education also joined as the third member of the federation.

The University of Western Sydney Act 1997 came into force from 1 January 1998 and provided a more formal governance structure for the University. Subsequently in 2000 further amendments were made to the legislation resulting in a multi-campus University with unitary governance and management structures which is the University that serves the region and the nation today.

Chancellors of Western Sydney University

  • Sir Ian Turbott AO CMG CVO (1989 to 2000)
  • Mr M John Phillips AO (2001 to 2010)
  • Professor Peter Shergold AC (2011 to 2020)

Vice-Chancellors of Western Sydney University

  • Professor John Ward AO (1989) (Acting)
  • Professor Brian Smith AO (1989 to 1994)
  • Professor Deryck Schreuder (1994 to 1998)
  • Professor Janice Reid AM (1998 to 2013)
  • Professor Barney Glover (current)

» Antecedent Institutions of the University of Western Sydney (PDF, 29Kb)

University Policy and Procedures

University-wide policies and procedures are published centrally in the Policy DDS.

Commercial Activities Guidelines

Under sections 32A to 32E of the University's Act there are requirements related to the undertaking and management of commercial activities by the University. In particular, the Board must have commercial guidelines in place that cover commercial processes and procedures including:

  • feasibility and due diligence
  • governance and administrative arrangements for commercial ventures
  • risk assessment and management
  • delegations by the Board
  • definitions of commercial activities
  • avoidance of conflicts of interest.

The University's Commercial Activities Guidelines can be located in the Policy DDS.

In addition, the Board must ensure that the University maintains a Register of all of its commercial activities as defined in the Guidelines. That Register is currently maintained by the Finance Office.

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