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(1) This Agency Information Guide (AIG) has been prepared in accordance with section 20 of the Government Information (Public Access) Act NSW 2009 (GIPA Act).
(2) This AIG:
- describes the structure and functions of the University;
- describes the ways in which the University's functions affect members of the public;
- specifies any arrangements that enable members of the public to participate in the formulation of the University policy and exercise of the agency’s functions;
- identifies the various kinds of government information held by the University;
- identifies the various kinds of information that the University makes, or will make, publicly available;
- specifies the manner in which the University makes, or will make, government information publicly available; and
- outlines the kind of information that is, or will be made publicly available free of charge and those kinds of information for which a charge is, or will be, imposed.
Section 1 - Establishment, Structure and Functions of the University
Establishment of the University
(3) The University is established by the University of Newcastle Act 1989 (UON Act).
Structure of the University
(4) The University is a body corporate under the name of the University of Newcastle. The structure of the University, is detailed in the University's Annual Report.
(5) The University's organisational structure can be accessed in the Organisation Chart.
(6) The University's controlled entities are TUNRA and UON Singapore Pte Ltd.
(7) The University comprises five divisions, five academic faculties, 16 academic schools, and a number of priority research centres.
(8) The University is a multi-campus institution in the following locations:
- Callaghan Campus, Newcastle;
- City Campus, Newcastle, including NeW Space and the Conservatorium of Music;
- Ourimbah Campus, Central Coast;
- Port Macquarie;
- Rural Health and Rural Clinical School, Orange, Tamworth, Armidale, Taree and Moree;
- Sydney CBD; and
- UON Singapore.
Functions of the University
(9) The core functions are:
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- providing facilities for education and research of university standard;
- disseminating, advancing, developing and applying knowledge;
- providing courses of study across a range of fields, and carrying out research, that meet the needs of the community;
- participating in public discourse;
- conferring higher education degrees and awards;
- providing teaching and learning that engages with advanced knowledge and inquiry;
- developing governance, procedural rules, policies, financial arrangements and quality assurance processes to ensure the integrity of the University's academic progress;
- the University may exercise commercial functions;
- the University may develop and provide cultural, sporting, professional, technical and vocational services to the community; and
- the University has such general and ancillary functions as may be necessary or convenient for enabling or assisting the University to promote the object and interests of the University, or as may complement or be incidental to the promotion of the object and interests of the University.
Section 2 - Effects of Functions on Members of the Public
(10) The University is committed to working in and with the community it serves, the region, its alumni community, indigenous partners and international community.
(11) The University serves the communities of Newcastle, the Hunter Valley and Central Coast areas of NSW. In these regions, we maintain close partnerships with business and industry.
(12) The University is committed to the North Coast Region of New South Wales and to other rural areas of the State, particularly through the Department of Rural Health.
(13) The University functions that are likely to have a significant impact on the public are those relating to teaching and learning, research, commercial functions and the provision of cultural, sporting, professional, technical and vocational services to the community.
(14) Members of the public can provide comment on the activities of the University through direct contact, through select committees, or via the University's Ask UON online feedback form.
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Section 3 - Formulation of University Policy
(15) University decisions are made in line with the strategic objects in the New Futures Strategic Plan 2016 - 2025.
(16) As a NSW Government agency, the University is accountable to the NSW public. As a body that receives public funding, the University is also accountable to the government providing the funding.
(17) The Council is the governing body of the University. Section 16 of the UON Act gives Council responsibility for the management of the affairs and concerns of the University and Council may act in all matters concerning the University.
(18) The University Council provides regular updates on outcomes and non-confidential resolutions of meetings on the Council Meeting Decisions and Updates webpages.
(19) Academic Senate is the principal academic body of the University of Newcastle. It oversees academic governance and the maintenance of academic standards, advises the Vice-Chancellor and Council on matters relating to the conduct and standards of teaching, scholarship and research, and has a major role in academic quality assurance processes through its Committees
(20) Most members of the Academic Senate are elected by the academic staff of the University. Other members are elected student members or ex officio.
(21) Each Faculty has a faculty board that provides advice and refers to the Academic Senate.
(22) The Executive Committee is drawn from senior leadership of the University's faculties and divisions and provides advice to the Vice-Chancellor on matters of strategic importance and operational significance.
(23) Staff and students and in some cases other community members are able to contribute policy development through committee membership.
(24) Information regarding the University's governing bodies can be found on the Governing Bodies webpage.
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Section 4 - Government Information Held by the University
(25) The University supports openness with regard to government information. Information may be available as outlined below.
Open Access Information
(26) The University maintains a range of open access information on the Access to Information webpage. This includes:
- this AIG;
- information about the University contained in any document tabled in Parliament by or on behalf of the University, for example the University's annual reports;
- relevant University policy documents, contained in the University’s Policy Library;
- the University's disclosure log details information on disclosures made as a result of a formal GIPA application that the University considers to be in the broader public interest; and
- a register of government contracts entered into by the University in which the University spends, or is likely to spend, over $150,000.
Proactive Release of Information
(27) The University proactively releases a wide range of information on the University website and through public access facilities.
(28) The University regularly produces free publications of direct interest to students. These program documents, handbooks and brochures are available at Student Central.
(29) Detailed information relating to all University matters is published annually in the University's Annual Report.
(30) Information relating to research funding, grants and contracts, performance and reporting, monitoring and promoting ethical research and contact information is on the Research Advantage webpage.
(31) Researcher profiles are available on the Highlighted Researchers website.
(32) Research theses are available in the NOVA Research Online system.
(33) The University holds data collected as a result of its administrative and quality assurance activities.
(34) The following principles apply to data that is to be used for internal quality assurance and benchmarking purposes:
- institutions are de-identified unless the information is already in the public domain - this includes removing any obvious attributes that may be present in the comparative data; and
- qualitative data is reviewed to confirm de-identification and anonymity.
(35) The University operates through four Library buildings and the online environment. The Library holds information relating to and identifying persons entitled to use its services. Further information and contact details is available on the Library (New Cat Library Catalouge) webpage.
(36) The University Archives unit is located in the Auchmuty Library on Callaghan Campus. Further information about the Archives unit is available on the Archive and Manuscripts Collections webpage.
(37) The University is a registered deductible gift recipient and receives philanthropic support from various sources. Confidential donor information is not made public. Further information can be found on the Give to UON webpage.
(38) Alumni of the University include graduates of the University, past and present members of the University Council, and academic staff and other people admitted under the By-law. The University is committed to building and nurturing lifelong relationships with its alumni. More information can be found on the Alumni webpage.
Informal Release of Information
(39) Wherever possible, the University provides requested information informally, without the need of a formal application form. The University may impose reasonable conditions prior to release of the information.
(40) Requests for personal information are granted in line with the access principles prescribed by the Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998 (NSW). If a formal request is required, guidance is available from the Right to Information Officer.
(41) Information may be accessed informally if it is:
- an individual’s own personnel file – staff members can contact the Human Resources Officer or their faculty or division to request information; or
- an individual’s own student information – students can contact the Assistant Academic Registrar at the Student Services Centre. Requests for informal release of information can be made directly to the relevant school, faculty, division or unit.
Formal Applications for Information
(42) A formal application for access to information is required when the information is not already available and cannot be provided informally.
(43) A formal application will be required when the information is considered to contain sensitive material or contains detail about a third party.
(44) For a formal application to be considered valid, it must include:
- proof of identity;
- detailed description of the information sought; and
- $30 application fee.
(45) An applicant may request that a review of certain decisions relating to a formal application via:
- an internal review – a fee of $40 is payable in most cases;
- Information and Privacy Commission New South Wales; and/or
- NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
Fees and Charges
(46) Fees for requests for information fall into two categories – application fees and processing fees.
(47) A $30 application fee covers applications for both personal and non-personal information, which covers up to one hour of processing time.
(48) Processing fees cover time for locating information, decision making, and consultation where necessary and any photocopying. A fee of $30 per hour may be charged for processing personal and non-personal information.
(49) The University may request an advance deposit for estimated processing fees.
(50) Applicants are entitled to up to 20 hours of free processing time for access to their own personal information.
(51) Fees relating to requests for information under the GIPA Act are GST exempt and may be reduced by 50% if:
- the applicant is under 18 years of age;
- the applicant can demonstrate personal financial hardship;
- the application is on the behalf of a non-profit organisation; or
- the applicant can demonstrate a special public benefit.
(52) If the University makes the information publicly available within 3 working days after providing access, the application is entitle to a waiver of any processing charge.
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Section 5 - Contact and Further Advice
Access to Information Officer
(53) The Access to Information Officer can assist members of the public, staff and students to locate publicly available information and provide advice on the GIPA Act and application process. The Access to Information Officer can be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at +612 4985 4529.
(54) The Information and Privacy Commission supports the GIPA Act. Contact details are available on the Information and Privacy Commission New South Wales website.
(55) Further information is available at the Access to Information Portal.