(Freedom of Information Act, 1991)

1. Preamble

This Information Statement is published in accordance with the requirements of Sections 9 and 10 of the South Australian Freedom of Information Act 1991 and Section 5 of the Freedom of Information (General) Regulations 2002.

2. Establishment of Flinders University

2.1 Flinders University (“University”) was established by the Flinders University  Act 1966 (SA) (the ”Act”).

2.2 The Act provides for the establishment of the University as a body corporate, consisting of a Council, graduates, staff and students. In 1991 it merged with the Sturt Campus of the former South Australian College of Advanced Education.

2.3 Flinders University is registered as a self-accrediting Higher Education Provider under the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) Act 2011 (Commonwealth), which establishes TEQSA as the national quality assurance regulator for Australian higher education.

3. Structure of the University

3.1 The University Council and its committees

3.1.1 The Council is the governing body of the University and is responsible for the strategic direction, general oversight and performance of the University and the attainment of its objectives. The Council’s powers, authorities, duties and responsibilities as the University’s governing body are derived from the Act, and subordinate legislation in the form of Statutes and By-laws made pursuant to the Act.

3.1.2 The Council’s principal responsibilities are defined as:

(a) appointing the Vice-Chancellor as the chief executive officer of the University, and monitoring his or her performance

(b) approving the mission and strategic direction of the University, as well as the annual budget and business plan

(c) overseeing and reviewing the management of the University and its performance

(d) establishing policy and procedural principles, consistent with legal requirements and community expectations

(e) approving and monitoring systems of control and accountability, including general overview of any entities controlled by the University (within the meaning of Section 50AA of the Corporations Act 2001)

(f) overseeing and monitoring the assessment and management of risk across the University, including commercial undertakings

(g) overseeing and monitoring the academic activities of the University

(h) approving significant commercial activities of the University.

In general terms, the Council is responsible for formulating policies in relation to the operation and general affairs of the University. These may take the form of provisions in the University Act, or statutes, by-laws, regulations, rules, policies, procedures or guidelines. Amendments to statutes or by-laws must be approved by Council and assented to by the Governor of South Australia.

3.1.3 The Council is supported and advised by a range of committees.

3.2  Senior Officers of the University

The Vice-Chancellor is the Chief Executive Officer of the University and exercises general superintendence over the affairs of the University. The Vice-Chancellor is supported by a senior executive team.

3.3  Organisational structure

The academic functions of the University are organised into six Colleges : College of Medicine and Public Health; College of Nursing and Health Sciences; College of Science and Engineering; College of Education, Psychology and Social Work; College of Business, Government and Law; and the College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences.

4.  Functions of the University

The functions of the University are defined by the Act as follows:

  •  the provision of educational facilities at university standards for persons who being eligible to enrol seek the benefits of such facilities; and
  • the establishment of such facilities as the University thinks desirable for providing courses of study, whether within the University or elsewhere, for evening students, giving instruction to and the examination of external students, and providing courses of study or instruction at such levels of attainment as the Council thinks appropriate to meet the special requirements of industry, commerce or any other section of the community; and
  • generally, the dissemination of knowledge and the promotion of scholarship.

5.  Ways in which functions affect members of the public

The principal effect of the University's operations on members of the public arises from the University's consideration of applications for admission to the University's courses, the education of graduates, and the advancement of knowledge through scholarship and research and the application of these for the benefit of the community.

6.  External input into University policy formulation

The composition of the Council, as prescribed by the University Act, allows for a majority of its membership to be persons external to the University and appointed by the Council for their commitment to education and, in particular, higher education. There are other committees in the University which provide for external members. Students of the University can participate in its operation through involvement in a range of committees and decision-making structures at all levels of the University, including Council.

7.  Documents usually held by the University

The University holds a variety of documents , in a range of formats, that deal with the development, provision and delivery of courses, conduct of research, related administrative issues and matters relating to the management of its physical, financial and human resources. Such documents may have been created in, or received by, the University. This includes a document in the possession, or under the control of, an officer of the University in that person's capacity as an employee of the University. Documents held in the University  include:

  1. Corporate files and administrative records
  2. Policies, procedures and guidelines
  3. Employee and student records
  4. Annual reports and strategic plans

Access to these documents may be subject to the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act.

8. Access arrangements and FOI enquiries

8.1 Subject to the provisions of the FOI Act, the University will make available:

  •   to the public, access to information about the University's policies and activities
  •   to individuals, access to information held about them
  •   to individuals, the opportunity to ensure that information held about them is accurate.

8.2 The University is committed to the principles of openness, accuracy, accountability and responsibility which underpin the FOI Act, and acknowledges an affirmative responsibility to implement the intent of the Act beyond simple compliance with its mandatory requirements. To the greatest extent possible, the University will attempt to meet all reasonable requests for access to information and for the amendment of records through its normal administrative procedures, so that formal applications under the provisions of the FOI Act will not be necessary. This has the benefit of facilitating access to, and/or amendment of, information with minimal administrative delay and cost.

8.3 Formal applications under the provisions of the FOI Act will normally only be made if the applicant chooses to apply in this way or the University wishes to use the grounds for exemption and/or the legal protections which the FOI Act provides.

8.4 Initial enquiries about gaining access to University documents or to general information about the University should normally be directed in writing to the Freedom of Information Officer.

8.5 To obtain information about staff or student records, application should be made in the first instance to the officer or section responsible for holding such records. Access to files about individuals will normally be made available only to the individual to whom the file or record relates. Applications to amend records should be made in writing in accordance with the Privacy Policy.

9. FOI applications

9.1 Applications under the FOI Act must be made in writing in accordance with the FOI Act and be accompanied by the appropriate application fee. Normally, processing fees will be applied in accordance with the provisions of the FOI Act, although there is provision under the Act for fees to be waived or remitted in the event of hardship.

9.2 In considering FOI applications the University is required to determine, in accordance with the provisions of the FOI Act, whether any of the documents, or parts of the documents, requested are exempt. To the greatest extent possible, the University will work within the provisions of the Act to ensure that the number of documents identified as exempt is kept to a minimum.

10. Freedom of Information Officer

10.1 As principal officer of the University under the FOI Act, the Vice-Chancellor has designated staff, in accordance with Section 4 of the FOI Act, as accredited FOI Officers.  FOI Officers are responsible for making determinations about release of documents, charging of fees and amendment of records in accordance with the provisions of the Act. In fulfilling this responsibility, FOI Officers deal with FOI applicants or prospective applicants and liaise with organisational units, which are required to take all reasonable steps to locate and retrieve documents for which access has been requested.

10.2 The University's Freedom of Information Officer can provide further information about the Freedom of Information Act and its operation in relation to the University, or about the structure and functions of the University, information and records held at the University, and procedures for gaining access to or amending University documents.

10.3 The Freedom of Information Officer can be contacted by post to Flinders University, GPO Box 2100, Adelaide, SA, 5001, by phone on (08) 8201 7721, by fax on (08) 8201 3757, or email to freedomofinformation@flinders.edu.au