The Australian | 20 February 2013
While recent state legislation allows Victorian universities to cut student and staff members from their governing councils, they will need to ensure that they still have a voice. Legal sources say that universities have a legal duty to ensure their councils are responsive to student and staff concerns, just as corporations have responsibilities shareholders and that universities that don’t retain such representation on councils should consider setting up other formal bodies to provide a clear process of consultation.
In November Tertiary Education Quality and Standards chief Carol Nicoll wrote to all Victorian universities reminding them that it was a condition of registration that they have processes and encouragement for students to participate in decisions.
She also stated that boards had to include a “full range” of expertise, which would usually include staff and student experience.
She said that while not a requirement, “student membership on a governing body would be a clear way of demonstrating student involvement and representation at the highest level.”
According to the Australian, Nicoll’s letter sparked a rebuke from Victoria’s higher education minister Peter Hall. He wrote back that he was concerned TEQSA was giving vice-chancellors the wrong impression that removing students and staff from councils could put them in breach of standards.