Research and Education Units, Centres and Institutes Policy


Application


This policy applies to all staff and students with responsibility for or within research units, research centres, research institutes, education centres, and centres involved in operating facilities that provide research infrastructure, of the University. Unless specified, “centre” in this policy refers to all these structures.

Purpose


This policy seeks to ensure that interdisciplinary research and education structures at the University are governed in an appropriate and consistent manner.

 

For establishment procedure requirements see the Establishing a Research or Education Unit, Centre or Institute Procedures.

 

For further guidance for reviewers of research and education units, centres and institutes see the Research Units, Centres and Institutes Review Guidelines.

Contents


  • Establishment of units and centres
  • Management of units and centres
  • Governance of centres
  • Establishing Oversight Boards
  • Support and operation
  • Reporting and accountability requirements
  • Reviews

Policy


Establishment of units and centres

1.     Department and school units are established or disestablished on the recommendation of the head of department or school, and with the approval of the Dean of the host faculty and the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research)

2.     Faculty centres are established/disestablished with the approval of Senate following a faculty recommendation through University of Auckland Research Committee (in the case of research centres) or Education Committee (in the case of education centres)

3.     University centres are established/disestablished with the approval of Senate and Council following a faculty recommendation through University of Auckland Research Committee (in the case of research centres) or Education Committee (in the case of education centres)

 

Management of units and centres

4.     All centres, regardless of size, must have a head or director and appropriate management and reporting structures

5.     For centres involving external partners, formal management agreements must be signed between appropriate member institutions

6.     The head of each department/school research unit will normally report to the head of the host department/school

7.     The director of each faculty centre will report to the dean of the host faculty or the dean’s nominee. In exceptional cases, other reporting arrangements may be appropriate, eg, reporting to a Pro Vice-Chancellor or the Vice-Chancellor’s nominee

8.     The director of each University centre will normally report to the dean of the nominated host faculty

Governance of centres

9.     Faculty and University centres may establish advisory boards, when this is the most appropriate way of obtaining the required advice or stakeholder involvement

10.   Advisory boards fall into one of the following categories:

  • Oversight boards
  • Expert advisory boards

11.   The term governance board must be used infrequently, and only for particular reasons e.g. when a legal partnership arrangement requires the oversight of external stakeholders

12.   Members of advisory boards for faculty centres are appointed by the dean of the host faculty

13.   Recommendations for such appointments are made by the centre director, in consultation with the dean

14.   Members of advisory boards for University centres are appointed in writing by the Vice-Chancellor

15.   Recommendations for such appointments are made by the centre director, in consultation with the Vice Chancellor and Deputy Vice- Chancellor (Research)

16.   The letter of appointment for members of advisory boards will include a clear statement of the duration of the appointment, payment arrangements (if any) and terms of reference, including confidentiality and other requirements Note : Members are asked to accept in writing by returning an attached acceptance form

17.   Terms of reference for the advisory board are confirmed by the board itself and reviewed regularly

18.   In all cases it must be made clear that the function of the board is advisory, and that the ultimate responsibility for decisions about strategy, policy, financial expenditure and staff line management remain with the director and the dean or Vice Chancellor

 

Establishing Oversight Boards

19.      Oversight Boards will comprise representatives from major stakeholders, including the principal faculties or departments involved, as well as external members where required. Internal members are normally in the majority

20.      These boards will normally be chaired by the dean or Vice-Chancellor’s nominee, but in some cases may have an external chair

21.      Directors of research centres are not members of oversight boards but are commonly in attendance for at least part of all meetings

22.      These boards are to meet regularly, and at least once per semester

23.      Expert Advisory Boards will usually comprise a majority of members from outside the University who are expert in relevant fields, although they should also include at least two members from other parts of the University who are expert in relevant disciplines

Note - It may be appropriate to invite some administrative staff to participate e.g. a senior manager from UniServices or the Director of Research Management. It is usually helpful to include at least one international academic and one individual who can represent end users of the research

24.      Expert Advisory Boards meet infrequently e.g. annually. The chair is often from outside the University, and reports to the Oversight Board and the dean/Vice-Chancellor

 

Support and operation

25.      Larger centres will establish management boards where this is the most appropriate way to coordinate activities and manage the business required

26.      For faculty centres, faculties are permitted to establish a separate activity centre within the faculty for the purposes of budget administration and financial reporting, when the nature or scale of the centre’s operation justifies this

27.      When faculties approve the establishment of faculty centres, they will provide a level of support to those centres.  Examples of support that faculties may provide include:

  • support for administration, research management, project management, financial administration/management
  • support for the development and review of strategic plans
  • partial FTE support for the director
  • direct financial contributions (capex and opex)
  • provision of adequate and appropriate space
  • training and career development for the director and staff

28.      Faculties will also provide the director with appropriate delegations and administrative responsibilities

29.      For University centres, for the purposes of budget administration and financial reporting, a separate activity centre will be established within a nominated host faculty.

30.      University centres will receive similar support from their faculty/ies as faculty centres, and will be able to apply to the University’s Strategic Research Initiatives Fund for support such as:

  • development and review of strategic plans
  • administration and project management
  • training and career development for director and staff

 

Reporting and accountability requirements

31.      Faculties must establish reporting requirements for department/school units. Each faculty should consider requiring an annual report from each department/school unit

32.      Faculty and University centres are required to submit annual reports to the host faculty/ies, and these should adhere to the style requirements and timeline for the Annual Departmental Reports of the University of Auckland

33.      The Dean of the host faculty or dean’s nominee (or equivalent) is required to provide copies of these reports to the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) or Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) as appropriate, by 28 February each year

34.      Where separate activity centres have been established for a unit or centre, financial reporting will adhere to the policy and practices of the University for budgeting and forecasting income and expenditure

35.      All monies generated from outside services must be handled through externally-sponsored research activity centres in the Research Office, UniServices, or University of Auckland Foundation

 

Reviews

36.      Every unit/centre must be reviewed three years after its initial establishment, and on a regular basis thereafter in order to assess its viability and the degree to which it has met its objectives

37.      The review process must be objective, rigorous and consistent with the level of approval authority

38.      Where external partnerships exist, review arrangements must be coordinated to take account of the requirements of both internal and external partners and stakeholders

39.      Deans are required to report annually to the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) on department/school research units. This report must include:

  • the status of each research unit (whether operational or not)
  • the date of last review and next scheduled review
  • the Director’s name and department/school affiliation

40.      Every faculty centre must be reviewed by the dean of the host faculty at least once every five years. Details of this review are found in the accompanying guidelines

41.      The dean is responsible for submitting review reports for faculty centres to the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research)

42.      The dean of the host faculty (or equivalent) must lead a review of every University centre at least once every five years, and is responsible for submitting review reports for University centres to the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research)

43.      However, if the centre receives funding from the University’s Strategic Research Initiatives Fund, the review must be carried out in accordance with the requirements of the funding (usually after 3 years)

Note - Details of this review are found in the accompanying guidelines

 

Websites

44.    University and faculty centres are included in the Research Centres internet page on the main University website

45.    Department/school units will be included on department, school or faculty internet pages

Definitions


The following definitions apply to this document:

 

Advisory Board means an organised body appointed to provide advice and direction to the Director of a research centre. The different types of Advisory Boards are:

  • Oversight Boards; organised bodies appointed to provide advice and direction to the Director of a research centre under delegated authority from the Dean/VC, e.g. Governance Boards, steering groups.
  • Expert Advisory Boards; organised bodies appointed to provide expert advice about research direction and strategy e.g. scientific advisory boards, industry advisory boards.

 

Centre(s) means a group of academic staff with a commitment to undertake activity that is greater than or different from the activity that would be undertaken by the individual members in the absence of the centre. Centres will usually have research as their main focus.  However, some may be education centres and some may be involved in operating facilities that provide research infrastructure. A centre has a formal management and reporting structure, a number of staff (critical mass) and preferably a group of research students whose work is part of the centre. “Centre” status does not imply permanency of structure in the same way that department or school status does. Centres provide a flexible structure that facilitates an appropriate level of interactions with a range of stakeholders. The following categories of centre exist:

  • department/school research unit
  • faculty research or education centres
  • University research or education centres

Some centres are also called “institutes”.

For the purposes of this policy, the term “research centre” specifically excludes Centres of Research Excellence (CoREs), Large Scale Research Institutes (LSRIs) and National Science Challenges (NSCs).

 

Department/school research unit means a centre that undertakes research activities that are:

  • greater than or different from the activity that would be undertaken by the individual members in the absence of the unit; and
  • of a nature and scale that will make a relatively small contribution to the achievement of the University’s strategic goals

The term “unit” in this policy refers to such research units and not to “academic units”, which are referred to in this policy as “departments” and “schools”.

 

Faculty centre means a centre that undertakes research or teaching-related activities that are:

  • greater than or different from the activity that would be undertaken by the individual members in the absence of the centre; and
  • of a nature and scale that will substantially contribute to the achievement of the University’s strategic goals, eg, contribution to the University’s reputation, research profile, or revenue of a sufficient scale; and
  • multi-disciplinary;

AND which may have the following characteristics:

  • employs a small core of dedicated support staff, including a part-time or full-time director;
  • receives support from the relevant faculties and UniServices where appropriate, given the nature of the research undertaken.

 

Institute is a title for a University centre that may only be used in exceptional circumstances, with the approval of the Vice-Chancellor.

 

University centre means a centre that undertakes research or teaching-related activities that are:

  • greater than or different from the activity that would be undertaken by the individual members in the absence of the centre; and
  • of a nature and scale that will substantially contribute to the achievement of the University’s strategic goals, e.g. contribution to the University’s reputation, research profile, or revenue of a sufficient scale; and
  • multi-disciplinary;

AND which has the following characteristics:

  • Scope and scale of activity similar to that of a department/school;
  • International recognition (eg, attraction of researchers, students and visitors from overseas);
  • Extensive links with external research, business and government groups;
  • Revenue from a variety of sources;
  • A fully committed director and relevant administrative support;
  • Support from the relevant faculties and UniServices where appropriate, given the nature of the research undertaken

University means the University of Auckland including all subsidiaries.

Document management and control


Owner: Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research)

Content manager: Researcher & Analyst to the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research)

Approved by: Senate

Date approved: February 2015

Review date: February 2018