Academic Structure Implementation

In May 2017, the University commenced a process of consultation and analysis to determine whether the current academic structure is appropriate to meet future needs and emerging opportunities. 

At the February 2019 meeting of the Board of Trustees, a Final Report and Recommendations on the Review of Academic Structures was approved.

The approved structural changes address the imperatives for change which emerged during the consultation process, such as:

  • scale and coherence of academic/professional focus
  • integrity of academic governance and leadership, and improved succession planning
  • greater authority and confidence demonstrated towards senior and mid-level School leadership 
  • visibility of disciplinary/professional groupings and resulting potential for enhanced internal collaboration and external recognition
  • projection of a holistic profile as a research-led University 
  • internal and external clarity of academic profile expressing what the University is about, our current and future strengths.

Modifying the academic structure of the University is crucial to managing complexity and growth. The academic structure will support our learning, teaching, research and engagement by facilitating collegial decision-making, encouraging collaboration, ensuring representation, and reflecting disciplinary identity. Changing the academic structure is an investment in our shared future and the support we provide to our student and staff communities.  

What will changes to the academic structure achieve?

  • enable a stronger voice for academic colleagues in decision-making
  • improve communication and academic decision-making
  • better connect our disciplinary and administrative structures
  • increase collaboration
  • refine and improve academic governance and leadership
  • improve leadership succession planning
  • better connect decision-making and implementation
  • allow the University to better accommodate and pursue growth. 

Key changes

The most visible change will be the creation of a small number of new schools, generating a total of 14 Schools, including the Graduate Research School. Note that School and Cluster names are indicative. Changes to new school names is expected to be finalised in April.

Internal School structures will continue to be the focus of already advanced work to establish disciplinary and professional field groupings, with Discipline Leaders working with Directors of Academic Program and Academic Course Advisors in
non-hierarchical teams.    

Services Directory

Download the services directory for the new structure.

Summary of Proposed Structural Changes

Schools will be clustered into three broad groupings with governance committees constituted by the Deans, partner Research Institute Directors, and Deputy and Associate Deans as required. Badanami will be represented on each of the Clusters. The Governance Committees will be strategically focused and externally oriented, with the responsibility to report on collaboration within the cluster and between clusters. Western Sydney University Cluster Terms of Reference have been developed, available here.

Discipline Leaders

The first phase of disciplinary affiliation has been completed, with academic staff in Schools and Research Institutes allocated to one of the 41 disciplinary/professional groupings recognised by the Vice-Chancellor. A listing of all Discipline Leaders can be downloaded here.



The modified School structure will be operational from 1 January 2020. 

It is proposed that the overall number of positions in Schools will increase. The University anticipates no voluntary redundancies being offered. 

New Schools will require a new professional staffing profile. The exact new School staffing profile is currently being designed to take into account School EFTSL; academic FTE; program spread and complexity; projected growth and cost. Proposed School staffing profiles will be developed in the first half of 2019 in consultation with relevant School staff members.

The Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor is leading the project, in collaboration with the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Strategy and Planning), and with regular reporting to the University’s Senior Executive Group and Executive Committee. The implementation project team includes representatives from the Project Management Office, Office of Human Resources, Schools and a variety of units that will support various operational aspects of the implementation. 

Regular updates on the project will be provided across a range of communication channels, including email, face-to-face and Yammer. Regular updates will be published to this website and FAQs will be updated regularly. 

For enquiries and feedback about the Academic Structure Implementation please contact:

 Anonymous enquires can also be submitted here.

 Alternatively please contact Lisa Hanlon (Senior Project Manager) at

 For enquiries related to individual concerns and the impact of organisational change, please contact your Senior HR Partner.

Deans and Interim Deans, Planning have been engaged for all new schools. Interim Dean, Planning roles were engaged for Built Environment, Engineering, Science and Psychology via an internal expression of interest process and will remain in place for the duration of 2019 or until the recruitment process for new Deans is finalised. The Deans and Interim Deans of each new School will be consulted on the design of their school structure and will participate in processes and decisions that have an impact on the operation of their school in 2020.

Recruitment for the vacant Dean positions will commence in July 2019.

Allocation of academic staff to a new School will be primarily aligned to the programs and units assigned to new Schools, meaning that staff teaching on a program will generally be aligned with the School assigned custodianship of that program. Proposed allocations of academic staff will be initially conducted in consultation with the current Dean of the existing School and Interim Dean (Planning) for the new School. Line management structures within new Schools will predominantly follow the approach existing in the current School.

Proposed placements of professional staff will be made in consultation with impacted staff and will be based on substantive level, position and campus location. Placement of professional staff will align with their current School – i.e. staff within the School of Science and Health will be allocated primarily to either the new School of Science or School of Health Sciences. Any vacant positions will be advertised according to the Professional Staff Agreement 2017 and the University’s Recruitment and Selection policy. Staff who have been placed into a new School will have the opportunity to apply for any advertised role.

All organisational change will be subject to formal consultation as outlined in our Enterprise Agreements and will be managed by the Office of Human Resources.

Change proposals for staff in the three Schools to be disestablished are expected to be released in mid-June with formal consultation meetings held with affected staff end-June.

The new schools require resourcing for business as usual operational activities, including budget management, casual staffing, governance, workload planning support, accreditation, student placements and mobility, administrative support for the Dean and other school management and various other coordination activities. In consultation with School Managers, the following structure for new Schools has been endorsed by the Vice-Chancellor:

  • Each new School will be allocated a set of four core operational positions.
  • New Schools will share a pool of professional staff resources across Schools previously part of the current School, for example, sharing will occur between the School of Social Sciences and School of Psychology. 
  • Schools will retain professional staff who support specific projects, programs, research centres or facilities.

It is anticipated that professional staff will essentially remain in their substantive position/level and simply transfer to their allocated School/location, hence no changes to position descriptions are expected.

New position descriptions for academic leadership/governance positions are being developed. These are expected to be the only changes to position descriptions for academic staff.

Consultation with DAPs indicated that many DAPs carry a significant workload and have a wide range of responsibilities. The Academic Structure Implementation project is exploring a number of appropriate support mechanisms for DAPs. In addition, the DAP position description is being reviewed to align and better integrate with new academic leadership roles such as Discipline Lead, Associate Deans, etc.

Clusters are forward looking, strategically focussed and externally engaged groups of cognate Schools and Research institutes. They are not an additional layer of operational management. Operational matters are dealt with at the School level. Western Sydney University Cluster Terms of Reference have been developed which detail the role and responsibilities of Clusters.

A Pro-Vice Chancellor (PVC) will be appointed to each Cluster. The PVC roles will be recruited in mid-2019, for a limited term, from the Deans and Institute Directors within the cluster of cognate Schools and Research Institutes. A professional support position for each cluster will be recruited late 2019.