Policy Redesign Project

All policies and procedures are being reviewed as part of this project. This document is pending review, but remains in effect until the review is carried out.

Policy on Flinders University Institutes and Centres

Establishment: Council, 28 October 1999
Last Amended: Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), 16 August 2016
Nature of Amendment: Replace Senior Vice-President with Chief Financial Officer
Date Last Reviewed: July 2016
Responsible Officer: Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research)

1.  Policy Context and Objectives

1.1  The Flinders University Strategic Plan places significant importance on the development, maintenance and support of high-quality research, teaching and community engagement. A key to achieving these strategic aims is the development and ongoing support of institutes and centres within the academic organisation of the University. Such University institutes and centres will:

  • Undertake core research and/or teaching activities;
  • Promote internal collaboration across Schools and Faculties where possible;
  • Facilitate and promote external collaboration and stakeholder engagement;
  • Enhance high quality research/teaching/community engagement and the connections between these activities;
  • Define a set of Key Performance Indicators against which institute and centre activity and productivity will be reported and assessed;
  • Attract external income; and
  • Raise the external profile and reputation of the University.

1.2  All institutes and centres, including those deemed not within the scope of this policy (see clause 3), will be accountable to the University for their operation and performance, through the faculty or administrative portfolio within which they are located, and, where appropriate, must establish and maintain links to stakeholder faculties and schools of the University.

1.3  The use of the name ‘institute’ or ‘centre’ in relation to University academic activities is not permitted without approval in accordance with this policy.


2.  Definitions

At meeting 3/09, Council approved the use of the nomenclature ‘centres’ or ‘institutes’ to describe loci within the academic organisation of the University conducting specialised teaching or research activities, which are either externally funded or which cannot be accommodated within the normal locus of a School.

For the purpose of this policy the following narrower definitions also apply in respect of centres and institutes within the academic organisation of the University:


Institutes may be established to lead and promote broadly focused research, teaching and/or community engagement activities, services, and expertise. An institute may comprise both University and external participants and stakeholders, but is not required to have external participation to exist at Flinders University. Being broader in scope and nature, an institute may constitute an overarching collection of research areas or it maybe one or two specific areas. An institute may have centres as part of its structure.


Centres may be established to provide and promote a more tightly defined area of research, teaching and/or community engagement activities, services, and expertise. A centre may comprise both University and external participants and stakeholders, but is not required to have external participation to exist at Flinders University. Being tighter in focus, a centre cannot, by definition, include or encompass an institute. Centres may be established within institutes to focus particular areas of activity within the institute, or may be independent of any institute.


3.  Scope

3.1  This policy provides for the establishment, management, reporting, review  and disestablishment of Flinders University institutes and centres with the broad objectives outlined in clause 1.1.

3.2  This policy does not apply to centres and institutes within the administrative organisation of the University that provide facilities for University activities or carry out functions other than those covered by clause 1.1. Examples include, but are not necessarily limited to, the Centre for Innovation in Learning and Teaching, the Student Learning Centre and the Flinders Centre for Science Education in the 21st Century. The establishment of, and changes to name of centres and institutes within the administrative organisation of the University is governed by the University’s Procedures for Approval and Promulgation of Changes to Organisational Structure or Names.

3.3  Research and teaching focused centres and institutes which are largely funded externally and subject to governance, reporting and compliance provisions under formal agreements with the funding body will be subject to this policy only to the extent that their establishment or disestablishment within the organisational structure of the University, or a change of name will require the approval of Academic Senate in accordance with clause 4.2 and the University’s Procedures for Approval and Promulgation of Changes to Organisational Structure or Names. 


4.  Establishment

4.1  The approval of Academic Senate, on the recommendation of the Vice-Chancellor is required for a centre’s or institute’s:

  • establishment or disestablishment
  • change of name;
  • change of governance/management structure;

4.2  Proposals as above must be sponsored by a stakeholder faculty or faculties and accordingly, will be submitted to the Vice-Chancellor by the relevant Executive Dean(s), through the relevant Deputy Vice-Chancellor (s), depending on the nature of the proposed institute or centre activities.

4.3  Deputy Vice-Chancellors may approve guidelines and forms, complementary to this policy, for the establishment, management , reporting and review of institutes and centres in areas of activity relevant to their portfolios.

4.4  Proposals for the establishment of institutes or centres will normally comprise:

  • Documentation detailing the consultation process undertaken with, and support elicited from internal stakeholders across the University for the proposed activity of the institute or centre (to be provided in an appendix);
  • Overview of other bodies, nationally and internationally working in the same field, accompanied by a succinct analysis of how the proposed institute or centre complements these extant activities and provides a significant point of difference from work being undertaken elsewhere in the field;
  • Identification and clear articulation of the benefits to the University arising from designation as an institute or centre (these will include the way in which becoming an institute or centre increases productivity, capacity and knowledge in the area at Flinders and beyond);
  • Comprehensive budget including funding sources and future growth and development plan (including, where relevant, future research income, research activities, staff, students);
  • Proposed management structure, including administrative support arrangements and management or advisory bodies, their terms of reference and composition;
  • Proposed membership;
  • Clearly identified and tightly focussed strategy for the research and career development of Early Career Researchers within the proposed centre or institute;
  • Considered recommendation and documentation from the Executive Dean of the Faculty(ies) with which the institute or centre will be connected;
  • Proposed key performance indicators and productivity indicators for the proposed activities of the institute or centre;
  • Risk management plan.


5.  Naming

5.1  The identification of institutes and centres with Flinders University must accord with Flinders University Brand Responsibilities.

5.2  Institutes or centres wholly or substantially within Flinders University will normally include ‘Flinders’ or ‘Flinders University’ in the title.

5.3  The use of ‘South Australian’, ‘National’, ‘Australian’ or ‘International’ in the title may be approved where it can be demonstrated that the proposed institute or centre is a State, National or International leader in the area of activity.

6.  Funding and Institutional Support

6.1  University funding support for institutes or centres will be determined on a case by case basis in consultation between the relevant Executive Dean(s), relevant Deputy Vice-Chancellor(s) and the Vice-Chancellor, on the advice of the Chief Financial Officer.

6.2  Ongoing institutional support for institutes or centres will be subject to the completion of satisfactory annual reports, demonstration of substantial progress against defined key performance indicators (KPIs) and participation in comprehensive review as set out in clause 11.


7.  Accountability, Governance and Management

7.1  An institute or centre Director will be appointed by the Vice-Chancellor in consultation with the relevant Deputy Vice-Chancellor(s) and Executive Deans of the faculties whose staff and students make up greater than 20% of the overall membership of the institute or centre.

7.2  Directors will be responsible for the activity and day to day operation and financial management of the institute or centre and will be accountable to the Executive Dean of the lead faculty through the Dean of the relevant School as appropriate. In exceptional cases, the Vice-Chancellor may determine that the Director will be accountable for the operation of the institute or centre to a Deputy Vice-Chancellor.

7.3  Where a centre is established within an institute, the centre director will be responsible to the institute Director.

7.4  University staff who are active in a centre or institute will be responsible to the Director for their centre or institute activities and will continue to be accountable to the supervisor of their substantive position in a school or faculty and will at all times be subject to University policies and procedures.

7.5  The Director will be assisted by an advisory board of at least 5 members including the relevant Deputy Vice-Chancellor(s) and Executive Dean(s) (or their representatives), as well as representative members of the institute or centre and other persons external to the University.

7.6  Directors will ensure that meetings of centre/institute management and/or advisory boards are scheduled regularly and minuted.  Minutes must be made available, on request, to relevant officers in the accountability chain.


8.  Teaching Responsibilities

Staff who are active within centres and institutes are accountable for their teaching responsibilities, including the supervision of research higher degree students to the Deans of the relevant schools.


9.  Agreements

9.1  Unless established by Council as an independent legal entity and authorised by the entity’s board, Directors of institutes or centres may not enter into legally binding agreements on behalf of their institute or centre.

9.2  Agreements (such as, but not limited to Memoranda of Understanding, contracts for the provision of services, exchange agreements, etc) between an external body, organisation or individual and the University, through the centre or institute, must be approved by the relevant authorised officer in accordance with the University’s Framework of Delegations of Authority to Enter into Contracts.


10.  Membership

10.1  Flinders staff and, where applicable, higher degree research students, must make up the majority of the membership of a centre or institute.

10.2  An institute or centre may appoint members who are external to the University for a fixed term as determined by the Director and the Advisory Board (‘associate or honorary members’). Such membership does not create or imply an employment relationship with the University, nor the award of academic status.

10.3  Associate or honorary  members may receive institute or centre communications and contribute to institute and centre activities but do not automatically receive any status benefits bestowed by the University without receiving approval of Academic Status in accordance with the Academic Status policy.

10.4  Institutes and centres are responsible for maintaining their own membership records and for reporting these in their annual reports.


11.  Reporting and Review

11.1  Institutes and centres within the academic organisation of the University will be subject to periodic comprehensive review from the date of establishment and a review of an institute or centre may be initiated at any time by the Vice-Chancellor, relevant Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Faculty Executive Dean, or management/advisory board if it is considered that the aims and objectives of the institutes or centre are not being met.

11.2  The Vice-Chancellor may determine that an education-focussed centre or institute will be included in the schedule of school reviews and reviewed in accordance with the School Review Policy.

11.3  Reviews will be organised and facilitated by the office of the relevant Deputy Vice-Chancellor. The terms of reference and the composition of the review panel will be established by the relevant Deputy Vice-Chancellor in consultation with the relevant Executive Dean(s) and other stakeholders, or with the Vice-Chancellor, in the case of institutes and centres that are directly accountable to a Deputy Vice-Chancellor.

11.4  Institutes and centres will submit an annual report on their activities through the relevant Executive Dean to the relevant Deputy Vice-Chancellor by 1st September.

11.5  Subject to any additional requirements as provided in guidelines established in accordance with clause 4.3, annual report documentation will address the financial management, membership, events, engagement, output and progress on key performance indicators determined at the time of establishment. Annual Reports will comprise an overview document in the form of a Directors report and a folio of documentation addressing the following:

  • progress towards performance and productivity indicators;
  • Grants and contract income and acquittal;
  • Details, as applicable, of research higher degree student enrolments and completion, publications, conference papers, creative outputs and awards;
  • Membership details (numbers of academic staff, Early Career Researchers, research higher degree students, status holders, visitors and administrative staff);
  • Statement of income and expenditure;
  • Viability and financial sustainability.

11.6  The relevant Deputy Vice-Chancellor will report to Academic Senate on institute and centre annual reports and recommend to Academic Senate that the institute or centre continue, with or without conditions, or be disestablished. Where Academic Senate accepts a recommendation to disestablish an institute or centre, the institutes or centre will be disestablished in accordance with clause 12 of this policy.

11.7  The reporting requirements contained in this policy do not remove from institutes or centres the responsibility to report in accordance with any other relevant University policy.


12.  Disestablishment of Institutes or Centres

12.1  Following a recommendation in accordance with clause 11.6, where Academic Senate determines an institute or centre will be disestablished whilst still active, there will be a period of notice of six months following which the institute or centre will formally cease its activities as a Flinders University centre or institute.

12.2  During this time the affairs of the institute or centre will be completed and the procedures for disposal or transfer of assets put into place. This will be overseen by the relevant Deputy Vice- Chancellor, Executive Dean and the Chief Financial Officer.

12.3  The staffing implications will be reviewed in consultation with the relevant Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Executive Dean and the Director, Human Resources.