Members' rights and member protection at Australian public universities

Document Type


Publication details

Orr, JL 2006, 'Members' rights and member protection at Australian public universities', paper presented to 2006 Australian and New Zealand Education Law Conference, Hobart, Tasmania, 4-6 October.


Corporate members have important legal rights that are incorporated into the statutory and common law of Australia. These members’ rights serve as a protective mechanism against abuse and mismanagement by those that govern corporate business. Australian universities are statutory corporations, some of which have statutory member provisions in their enabling legislation. Universities are being forced to venture further into commercial operations to survive and in some instances are undertaking unacceptable risks in their commercial activities. Some universities are experiencing difficult financial times and the following question is raised: What avenues do university members have to protect themselves where their university’s commercial ventures threaten to undermine the core purpose of higher education? The aim of the presentation is twofold. Firstly to identify the persons who are members of Australian universities and secondly to examine the legal rights that members of Australian universities have.