Federal universities and members' rights

Document Type

Conference publication

Publication details

Jackson, JG 2005, 'Federal universities and members' rights', Surviving or thriving: forging the way in a new landscape: proceedings of the Tertiary Education Management National Conference, Perth, WA, 27-30 September, Tertiary Education Management Inc., Callaghan, NSW. ISSN: 14429829


Over the past few years the Federal Government has become very interested in university management. It has released the National Governance Protocols for Public Higher Education Institutions and has also discussed whether it should take over legislative responsibility for universities.

This presentation questions whether universities would thrive if they were brought under full Federal legislative control and, if so, whether universities should or could be brought under the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth).

The legal status of the National Governance Protocols under the current Federal State model is examined. A conclusion reached is that there seems no adequate method of ensuring compliance with these. One criticism of the Protocols is that they place too little emphasis on the role played by vice-chancellors and their executives.

The paper also examines some of the legal implications federal legislative control could have for universities and their members including their staff and students. One question addressed is whether members of a university would have access to the members' rights provisions of the Corporations Act to pursue breaches of duty by the university executive or council, or to seek redress for conduct which is perceived as oppressive.