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Understanding University Governance

Please contact us if you would like information about this program.


University councils now play a central role in the functioning of the modern Australian university. Being an effective member of council requires a range of particular skills and knowledge. This one-day program, the first in the LH Martin Institute's suite of governance programs, provides an introduction to contemporary thinking on university governance for people who are already involved in or who are expected to be involved in university governance activities but have had little previous exposure to governance principles. Note: this program is designed to provide a valuable supplement to institutions' own council induction programs rather than replace them.

Who should attend?

  • Ex-officio members of council (Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor, Chair of the Academic Board).
  • New or recent members of council, including external and internal members and new or recent Chairs of council committees.
  • University governance professionals, including University Secretaries, Secretaries to Council and Heads of Secretariats.
  • Senior university executive staff.
  • Senior academic staff who require or will require a knowledge of university governance as part of their current or future roles.

Program content

Topics covered in the program are:

  • The legal framework of university governance.
  • Council roles and functions.
  • Effective governance processes.
  • Council behaviours and continuous improvement .

A comprehensive set of notes addressing each of the topics is provided as pre-reading. In addition, an integrated set of mini case studies and simulations is used on the day to allow participants to discuss the application of the governance concepts.

The program consists of four sessions, each approximately 90 minutes long and based on the four topics above. Each session will comprise of an interactive discussion of the key concepts, group work on a case study or simulation, class discussion of the case study or simulation and the opportunity to raise questions.

Program delivery

This program can be delivered as a tailored program for individual institutions or for a group of institutions based in the same city or state.

Learning outcomes

Upon completion participants will understand:

  • the meaning of university governance,
  • the legal framework which establishes universities and the role of councils within that framework,
  • the legal responsibilities of council members,
  • the roles of council and its committees including the academic board,
  • the roles of the Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor, Chair of the Academic Board and University Secretary,
  • the key functions of council,
  • the importance of governance processes,
  • approaches to improving the performance of council,
  • the nature and importance of behavioural dynamics inside and outside the council chamber, and
  • appropriate behaviours for council members.


Professor Geoffrey Kiel, Chairman, Effective Governance.

Geoff has had a distinguished career as a management consultant, senior manager, management educator and academic researcher. He has extensive personal experience working with clients in areas of strategic planning, marketing planning, marketing strategies, organisational design and development, marketing research and economic feasibility studies and is well known for his work in corporate governance. Geoff is the co-author of the major Australian practical guides to governance, Boards that Work: A New Guide for Directors and Directors at Work: A Practical Guide for Boards.


Please direct enquiries about this program to or call +61 3 83440756.

This program can be delivered as a bespoke program for groups of universities within the same city or state. Contact us to discuss delivery for your institution(s).

Other programs in the Governance suite

Effective University Councils

Academic Governance in the New Regulatory Environment

Regulating the University: Impacts and Implications for University Governing Bodies

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Part of the Governance series
Part of the Governance series
A collaborative activity between the University of Melbourne through the LH Martin Institute and Effective Governance
A collaborative activity between the University of Melbourne through the LH Martin Institute and Effective Governance