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Policy Framework Policy

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Section 1 - Purpose and Context

(1) This document establishes a framework and standards for the development, approval, implementation and management of University-wide rules, policies, procedures and guidelines.

(2) It does not apply to policies or other documents specific to a particular academic or business unit of the University.

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Section 2 - Definitions

(3) The following definitions apply for the purposes of this policy:

  1. Approval authority – refer to clauses in the Approval Authorities section of this policy;
  2. Document is a generic or collective reference to a University rule, University-wide policy, procedure and guideline, unless otherwise specified;
  3. Document owner means the person with operational or business responsibility for a document;
  4. Policy DDS is the abbreviated name for the University’s online policy document development system, which contains all University rules and University-wide policies, procedures and guidelines.
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Section 3 - Policy Statement

(4) The University, through a series of rules, policies, procedures and guidelines, has in place a comprehensive compliance management framework designed to ensure it can achieve its strategic objectives, ensure consistent decision making across the University, and effectively manage many types of risks.

(5) This policy describes the procedures for the development, review, approval and publication of these documents to ensure consistency and transparency.

Hierarchy

(6) The University’s governance documents operate in the following hierarchy, from highest to lowest:

  1. Western Sydney University Act 1997 (NSW) and other relevant Commonwealth or New South Wales laws with which the University is required to comply, including the Higher Education Standards Framework (Threshold Standards) 2015;
  2. Western Sydney University By-Law 2017 (NSW) which is a statutory regulation and has the force of legislation;
  3. Rules made under the Western Sydney University By-Law 2017, which are statutory rules and have the force of legislation;
  4. Policies, which are concise, formal statements of how the University will act on particular aspects of its business or operations. In the absence of a specific policy, existing laws constitute the relevant policy;
  5. Procedures, which describe in detail the process for implementing policy and are written in a sequential and logical order, prescribe processes and assign specific responsibilities for carrying out those processes;
  6. Guidelines, which are advisory or explanatory only and are designed to assist University employees to implement rules, policies and procedures.

(7) Policies and documents lower in the hierarchy must always be consistent with legislation, including regulations, by-laws or statutory rules and are invalid to the extent of any inconsistency.

(8) If there is an inconsistency between two policies or documents lower in the hierarchy, the approval authorities for those documents will decide the appropriate interpretation, on the advice of the Policy and Governance Unit and/or the Office of General Counsel.

Approval Authorities 

(9) The Board of Trustees or Vice-Chancellor and President makes University rules under section 41 of the Western Sydney University Act 1997 and clause 13 of the Western Sydney University By-Law 2017. The Board of Trustees also approves policies related to governance of the University.

(10) The Academic Senate approves policies related to the quality and assurance of academic matters affecting the University.

(11) The Vice-Chancellor and President and other authorised bodies or officers designated in the Delegations of Authority Policy approve policies relating to the management and operations of the University.

(12) Procedures or guidelines are approved by a person designated in the policy with approval to do so or as designated under Delegation Schedule HH which relates to organisational and miscellaneous matters.

(13) If any changes to the University’s organisational structure result in there being a gap or different approval authority reference in a document referred to in clause (11), the existing document will remain in force until amendment. However, the Vice-Chancellor and President may designate an alternative approval authority for the purposes of that document until its amendment or replacement.

Principles

(14) This section specifies the essential characteristics and principles that apply to all documents.

(15) The content of all documents should:

  1. uphold and be aligned with the University’s core values, mission and strategic goals;
  2. be informed by, and consistent with, all relevant laws including the Western Sydney University Act 1997 and Western Sydney University By-Law 2017;
  3. provide a clear and discernible demarcation between governance and management;
  4. be concise and in plain English, comprehensive and clearly articulate expectations and consequences and responsibilities for actions and decisions;
  5. articulate policy separately from procedures and guidelines (and vice versa);
  6. mitigate all relevant risks to the extent possible.

(16) The process for development, implementation and review of all documents should be:

  1. appropriately consultative;
  2. informed by principles of continuous improvement and sector best practices;
  3. informed by, and compliant with, legislative requirements and the University’s strategic plan.

Compliance

(17) Compliance with all documents is mandatory for all University employees, students and contractors, as applicable and within the scope of the relevant instrument.

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Section 4 - Procedures

Part A - Identifying the Need to Review or Create a New Document

(18) Issues that can trigger the need for review of an existing document or development of a new document may include:

  1. legislative, audit or other external imperatives;
  2. changes to the University’s strategic direction or structure;
  3. content gaps or overlaps;
  4. mitigation of specific risks;
  5. scheduled policy reviews.

(19) Employees who wish to initiate the development of a new document, or review an existing document prior to its published review date, must first obtain advice from the Policy and Governance Unit and, secondly, approval from the Director, Governance Services about whether there is a justifiable need for the new, or premature review of an existing, document. Employees should send a written submission (endorsed by the head of the business or academic unit) that describes in detail:

  1. the subject matter requiring the new, or early review of an existing, document;
  2. reasons for the new, or early review of an existing, document including any legislative or other imperatives.

Part B - Document Development

(20) If approval is given under clause (19), the employee must provide the Policy and Governance Unit with brief details about the anticipated timeframe for the policy’s development, and the name of the document owner and unit head.

(21) The document owner must then arrange for all documents to be prepared using the approved template. Additional information and resources are also available from the Policy and Governance Unit.

(22) The Policy and Governance Unit will also provide advice and assistance to the document owner to support the development work.

Part C - Consultation

(23) Consultation with key stakeholders is critical to ensure a document will achieve its objectives, is properly implemented and sufficiently reflects the University’s position and practices. The document owner must identify the type of consultation that is appropriate.

(24) All new and revised documents must be submitted to the University’s Executive Committee for initial review. The Policy and Governance Unit facilitates submitting all such documents to Executive Committee, therefore document authors must consult with the Policy and Governance Unit about the appropriate stage at which to submit a new or revised document to Executive Committee.

Consultation Type and Consultation Period

(25) For a new document, the document owner is to:

  1. establish a reference group of key stakeholders to assist in developing the document;
  2. undertake targeted engagement with other relevant staff and/or students and relevant committees or working groups as appropriate;
  3. ensure general consultation is undertaken with all staff, and with students where the document affects students’ rights and responsibilities; and
  4. consider seeking advice from the Office of General Counsel.

(26) For a document under review:

  1. the document owner is to identify the consultation required, depending on the length of time since the last review, and the extent of any changes proposed. If documents have not been reviewed for three or more years, then the consultation process described in clause (25) should be followed;
  2. where the amendments are of a minor nature or are to be made to reflect new laws or changes to existing laws, the time and extent of consultation may be reduced.

(27) Document owners may, with assistance of the Policy and Governance Unit, use the Policy DDS Bulletin Board to seek preliminary feedback from targeted groups about a document under review or development. This function supports preliminary consultation. It specifically limits the consultation to the targeted groups and the period of consultation is at the document owner’s discretion.

(28) Document owners must, other than in exceptional circumstances, provide an opportunity for the University community to comment on a document under review or development. Document owners must request the Policy and Governance Unit to post the document to the Policy DDS Bulletin Board. In general, new and revised documents will be posted on the Policy DDS Bulletin Board for at least two weeks.

(29) The Staff Agreements require the University to provide employees and applicable unions with the opportunity to comment on any new document and any significant change to an existing document that affects working conditions before final approval. The Policy and Governance Unit will facilitate this consultation for relevant documents in association with the Office of Human Resources.

Providing Feedback

(30) During consultation periods, staff and students must use the Policy DDS Bulletin Board to provide feedback on draft documents.

(31) At any other time, feedback on existing documents should be provided by using the ‘Feedback’ tab located in the relevant document on the Policy DDS or by contacting the relevant document owner or unit head.

Part D - Copyright

(32) Rules, policies, procedures and guidelines must not infringe the intellectual property rights of another person. It is the responsibility of the document owner to obtain any relevant copyright clearances and to provide these to the Policy and Governance Unit before finalisation and publication.

Part E - Approval

(33) The approval body may approve a new or revised document where satisfied that:

  1. the document is necessary and appropriate, and taking into account the advice of the Policy and Governance Unit about the need for that document;
  2. the document is consistent with the University’s objectives;
  3. appropriate consultation has been undertaken in developing or reviewing the document;
  4. appropriate measures and resources are in place to ensure the document can be effectively communicated and implemented within a reasonable time.

Part F - Publication

(34) All University rules must be published in accordance with clause 13 of the Western Sydney University By-Law 2017

(35) All University rules, University-wide policies, procedures and guidelines must be published in the Policy DDS using the approved template.

(36) University-wide rules, policies, procedures and guidelines are not to be published in any other form (e.g. hardcopy, web file) or in another location unless there is a particular reason to do so and only with the prior approval of the Director, Governance Services.

(37) Units should make arrangements with the Policy and Governance Unit to publish or link their relevant internal documents as Associated Information of a rule, policy, procedure or guideline published through the Policy DDS.

(38) Some documents are confidential and access may be restricted to University employees via a password.

Part G - Implementation

(39) It is critical that any new or changed documents are communicated and implemented effectively, including through training initiatives. All document owners are required to prepare and submit an implementation plan when submitting a document for final approval.

(40) A document takes effect on the date of publication or a later date.

Part H - Review

(41) All documents published in the Policy DDS have a set review date which is stipulated at the time of publication.

(42) New documents should be reviewed on the first anniversary of publication to ensure they have been implemented properly and are working effectively.

(43) All documents should be reviewed at least once every five years or as soon as changes become necessary (for example, because of changes to laws, or structures or systems of the University).

(44) The Policy DDS automatically generates a review notice to the relevant owner and unit head when a document reaches its review date and the document owner must initiate a review at that time.

(45) When conducting a review, document owners are to:

  1. examine whether the document has achieved its objectives and is still relevant and useful to the business and operational needs of the University;
  2. consider whether the document remains consistent with the University’s strategic objectives and policies;
  3. consider whether the document is still needed at all or should be amended or consolidated with another document;
  4. refer to the University’s Policy Development and Review Resources for advice about conducting best practice review.

(46) The Policy DDS generates monthly, six monthly and yearly reports to document owners and senior staff about the review status of all published documents.

(47) Where a document needs to be amended before its next formal review date, the document owner is to contact the Policy and Governance Unit for advice and assistance. The Policy and Governance Unit will facilitate minor amendments to documents in accordance with the Delegations of Authority Policy.

Part I - Repeal or Sunset Dates

(48) In general, documents do not have a specified sunset date.

(49) If a document owner considers a document should include a sunset clause or be repealed (whether or not there is a document to replace it) they should first obtain advice from the Policy and Governance Unit. The Policy and Governance Unit will arrange approval of the relevant approval authority.

Part J - Suspension or Variation of Policies in Emergencies or Urgent Circumstances

(50) Under Part E of the Delegations of Authority Policy, the Board of Trustees has delegated authority to the Chair, Academic Senate to suspend or vary policies or procedures approved by the Academic Senate where there is an emergency or an urgent circumstance. This authority may only be exercised subject to certain conditions specified in Part E of the Delegations of Authority Policy.

(51) The requirements under Parts A, B, C, E and H of these Procedures do not apply to any suspension or variation made by the Vice-Chancellor and President, in respect of a policy or a procedure made by the Vice-Chancellor and President where that suspension or variation:

  1. is reasonably necessary to respond appropriately to an emergency or urgent circumstance including, without limitation, a natural disaster, a health pandemic or epidemic, civil unrest or armed conflict; and
  2. is for a specified period of time (but it may be extended or renewed for a further specified period of time); and
  3. is promptly notified to all affected staff and students of the University.
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Section 5 - Guidelines

(52) For copyright advice, refer to the Copyright Policy or contact the Copyright Officer.

(53) For legal advice, contact the Office of General Counsel.

(54) For policy advice and support:

  1. see the University’s policy development and review resources
  2. visit the Policy DDS
  3. contact the Policy and Governance Unit at policies@westernsydney.edu.au

Related Policies and Procedures

(55) This document should be read in conjunction with the information provided at the Associated Information tab of this policy.