Research Centres Policy

Application

This policy applies to all staff members and students with responsibility for or within research centres of the University.

Purpose

This policy sets out the institutional requirements and support arrangements for the different categories of research centres of the University.

Background

Research centres are critical enablers of the strategic priorities and initiatives set out in Taumata Teitei – Vision 2030 and Strategic Plan 2025.

The scale of impact that can be achieved by research centres is dependent on a number of critical factors, including strong leadership, effective management and engagement practices, good governance, and an appropriate level of investment at different stages of development.

Policy

Leadership

1. All research centres must have an academic director and may have additional co-directors.

2. The responsibilities of a research centre director will generally include:

a) providing academic leadership for the centre

b) demonstrating leadership for the values and Te Ao Māori principles of the University

c) developing and implementing the centre strategic plan and research programme

d) developing engagement networks within and beyond academia

e) planning for the sustainable development of the centre

f) overseeing and monitoring performance of the centre

g) ensuring reports/reviews are completed and recommendations arising are implemented

h) ensuring appropriate succession planning

i) ensuring appropriate transition arrangements in place in the event of disestablishment

j) engaging with line managers and supervisors to ensure appropriate supervision and support for staff and students associated with the research centre.

3. The specific responsibilities of a research centre director will be set out in a letter of appointment from the sponsor and will be scaled proportionately to the centre category.

4. The research centre director may also have a leadership role for an aligned research platform and those responsibilities are detailed in Research Platforms Policy.

Hosting

5. All research centres must have a primary host faculty or Large-Scale Research Institute (LSRI).

6. The sharing of host responsibilities with other faculties and LSRIs must be clearly documented in the proposal for establishment of the research centre and in subsequent annual reports.

7. Host responsibilities for research centres include:

a) providing the support that has been agreed as part of the proposal (refer Support section)

b) overseeing and monitoring the performance of the portfolio of hosted research centres

c) ensuring the needs of hosted research centres are considered in annual planning and investment processes.

Establishment

This section sets out the establishment requirements for each category of research centre.

8. The sponsor will issue an award letter on establishment setting out the approved objectives, deliverables, milestones and annual budget for the research centre during the approval term.

9. The process for establishing research centres in University systems will be detailed in the guidelines (to follow).

University Research Centres

10. The Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) (as sponsor) will periodically release a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the establishment of University research centres.

11. University research centres are to be established with approval from Senate and notification to Council following endorsement by Faculty / LSRI Research Committee, University Research Committee and Academic Leadership Team (ALT).

Faculty / LSRI Research Centres

12. The dean / director of the host faculty / LSRI (as sponsor) may periodically release an RFP for the establishment of faculty / LSRI research centres.

13. Faculty / LSRI research centres are to be established with approval from Senate following endorsement by faculty / LSRI Research Committee and University Research Committee.

Department / School Research Centres

14. The dean of the host faculties may periodically release an RFP for the establishment of department / school research centres.

15. Department / school research centres are to be established with approval from the dean of the host faculty following endorsement by Faculty Research Committee.

Approval term

16. The term of approval will generally be for five years for all research centres unless there is a need to align the term to existing contractual and funding obligations of the University.

Registration

17. The Office of Research Strategy and Integrity (ORSI) is responsible for maintaining a central register of essential information for approved research centres and for working with relevant staff members to keep the intranet and internet information up to date.

Support

18. The support needs of research centres must be detailed in the proposal and annual budget.

19. The eligible expenses that can be included in the annual budget will be detailed in the RFP and guidelines (to follow).

20. University research centres are eligible to apply to receive a University contribution to the annual budget from the pool of internal funding administered by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), subject to the RFP and guidelines for those funds.

21. All research centres are eligible to apply to receive a faculty / LSRI contribution to the annual budget from the portfolio of internal funding administered by the host faculty / LSRI, subject to the guidelines for those funds.

22. All research centres will be eligible to apply for targeted growth grants from the pool of internal funding administered by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) to pursue strategic development and impact opportunities, subject to the guidelines for those funds.

23. Research centres will not be required to include in the annual budget the standard research centre support services provided by UniServices, Services Divisions and the Host Faculty/LSRI that are detailed in the guidelines (to follow).

24. The level of support to be provided to the research centre must be discussed and agreed with the host faculty / LSRI, UniServices and relevant Service Divisions, and documented in the proposal.

Management

25. All research centres are required to have a management group in place that is composed of the director and relevant host and non-host academic and professional staff that are directly involved in the management of the centre.

26. The research centre management group is responsible for the day to day operation of the centre and is accountable to the oversight group through the director.

27. The composition of the research centre management group and any associated expenses must be proportionate to the centre category and detailed in the proposal, with any subsequent changes detailed in the annual reports.

28. The ultimate responsibility for decisions relating to the line management of research centre and management group staff remains with the relevant line manager.

Oversight

29. All research centres are required to have an oversight group in place that is composed of staff members and external stakeholders (where appropriate) with relevant expertise and networks.

30. An oversight group may provide dedicated oversight to a single research centre or to a portfolio of research centres.

Note - A portfolio approach is generally recommended for the department/school Research Centre category.

31. The oversight group is to support good governance of the research centre by working with the director to monitor performance and making recommendations to the sponsor on potential changes to research centre strategy and operations.

32. The composition of the research centre oversight group and any associated expenses must be proportionate to the research centre category and detailed in the proposal, with any subsequent changes detailed in the annual reports.

33. Membership of the oversight group must include the Associate Dean (Research) or nominee.

34. Members of the research centre oversight group will be appointed by the sponsor.

Advisory

35. Research centres may establish additional advisory or reference groups to provide advice and expertise (e.g. scientific advisory).

36. The composition of the research centre advisory group and any associated expenses must be proportionate to the research centre category and detailed in the proposal, with any subsequent changes detailed in the annual reports.

37. Members of research centre advisory and reference groups will be appointed by the director following endorsement by the oversight group.

Reports

38. All research centres are required to complete an annual report detailing progress against the approved objectives, deliverables, milestones and annual budget, and any proposed changes.

39. The reporting requirements are to be proportionate to the research centre category.

40. The report will be prepared by the director with support from the management group and will be submitted for approval by the sponsor following endorsement by the oversight group.

41. The sponsor may make recommendations and impose conditions following the review of the report, including that the research centre participate in a further review.

42. Copies of reports are to be provided to the host faculty / LSRI research committee and, in the case of University and faculty / LSRI research centres, to the University research committee.

Reviews

43. During the term of approval, the sponsor may undertake a review of a research centre to determine any required changes to a research centre’s strategy, management, oversight, funding arrangements, category and approval status.

44. Any recommendations arising from the review to change the category or disestablish the research centre must meet the establishment and disestablishment requirements for that category.

45. The process for undertaking reviews of research centres will be set out in the guidelines (to follow).

Disestablishment

46. Research centres must be disestablished upon expiry of the approval term in the absence of a further term of approval.

47. The director is responsible for ensuring that appropriate transition arrangements are in place in the event of research centre disestablishment

48. A recommendation from the sponsor to disestablish a research centre prior to the expiration of the approval term will only require approval from Senate (following endorsement by University research committee) where the recommendations is contested by the director or oversight group.

Category refers to the three categories of research centres:

  • Department/School
  • Faculty / LSRI
  • University

The research centre categories are typically characterised with reference to four key parameters, with no single characteristic being determinative:

Number Parameter
1 Scale of contribution to University’s strategic priorities and initiatives
2 Scale of transdisciplinary approach
3 National / international recognition for Excellence and Impact
4 Potential to become a sustainable national/international centre of significance

The following definitions apply to this document:

Large-Scale Research Institutes (LSRIs) include the Auckland Bioengineering Institute (ABI), Liggins Institute and any LSRIs listed in the Guidelines. LSRIs are not defined as research centres for the purposes of this policy.

Leadership has the meaning set out in the University’s Leadership Framework that is available on the staff intranet and includes the 5D Leadership Capabilities.

National Research Collaborations (NRCs) include National Science Challenges (NSCs) and Centres of Research Excellence (CoREs). NRCs are not defined as research centres for the purposes of this policy.

Research centres are organisational structures that have all of the following characteristics:

  • has been formally approved as a research centre in accordance with the Research Centres Policy
  • is hosted by a Faculty or LSRI
  • there is a director, management group and oversight group
  • there is a membership of affiliated researchers and stakeholders (where appropriate) working towards common research objectives
  • undertakes activity that:
    • is aligned to the University’s strategic priority areas or emerging areas of priority or opportunity,
    • is greater than or different from activity that would be undertaken by individual members in the absence of the centre, and
    • cannot be undertaken/achieved to the same degree through existing organisational structures.

Research institutes are research centres that have received approval from the Vice-Chancellor to use the title ‘institute’, as listed in the guidelines (to be published in September).

Research platforms are groupings of research infrastructure (equipment, facilities and expertise) that provide the capability needed to support the research and teaching activities of their user (academic and student) communities. Refer to the Research Platforms Policy for more information.

Sponsor refers to the staff member with overall responsibility for a research centre. The Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) is the sponsor of University research centres. The dean of the host faculty/LSRI is the sponsor for other categories of research centre.

Staff member refers to an individual employed by the University on a full or part time basis.

Transdisciplinarity is defined by the integration of academic researchers from unrelated disciplines and non-academic participants in creating new knowledge and theory to achieve a common goal (OECD, 2020). There are six defining characteristics:

1. Breadth/diversity of interdisciplinarity
2. Depth of disciplinary integration
3. Degree/quality of interaction with non-academic participants
4. Composition of non-academic partnerships
5. Timing of participatory engagement
6. Types of knowledge

Values and Te Ao Māori Principles are those listed in Taumata Teitei – Vision 2030 and Strategic Plan 2025

University means the University of Auckland and includes all subsidiaries.

Key relevant documents

Includes the following:

Document management and control

Owner: Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research)
Content manager: Director Research Strategy and Integrity
Approved by: Senate and Council
Date approved: October 2021
Review date: October 2024