Legislation and Policy Framework
The attached diagram illustrates the hierarchy of governance documents that define and govern the activities of RMIT. A document lower in the framework cannot be inconsistent with a document higher in the framework.
Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology Act 2010
RMIT University is governed by the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology Act 2010 (Vic) (the Act). The Act establishes the University as a ‘body politic and corporate’. The Act also establishes the University’s governing body (Council), sets out the objectives of the University and empowers the University to make University legislation in the form of Statutes and Regulations for the organisation, management and good governance of the University.
RMIT University Statutes
A statute is the primary legislative instrument that can be made by the University under the Act. RMIT Statutes are typically of a permanent or long-lasting nature, and govern the internal affairs of the University at the highest level, consistent with the Act. Statutes may prescribe or enshrine certain powers, responsibilities and actions that are expressly required under the Act, which may require enforcement, or may describe organisational values that are considered to be of central importance. Statutes contain overarching principles which have significant impact on University-wide operations, or on individual rights and freedoms. Statutes can be enacted, amended and repealed only by Council, and any statutes enacted, amended or repealed must receive approval of the Victorian Minister for Higher Education and Skills before they can take effect.
RMIT Statutes and Regulations apply to the following categories of people:
- The Council
- Emeritus professors and adjunct professors of the University
- Honorary University Fellows
- Any member of the public entering or on land or other property of the University or using University facilities
- Such other persons as Council may from time to time determine.
Statutes are enacted when:
- required by the Act
- the University only has power to act if it does so by legislation. For example, Council may only revoke a degree ‘if the statutes so provide…’ (s 10(3)) and must do so “… in the circumstances and manner prescribed in the university statutes” (s 10(4)).
- the University seeks to regulate the conduct of members of the public. The Act provides in section 28 that the University may make “…any university statutes and university regulations with respect to any matter relating to … any person entering or on land or other property of the University or using University facilities.”
- When balancing the rights of different classes of members of the University or preserving a right of University employees or students not normally available to employees and clients of a body corporate.
Matters of detail subject to frequent change and matters related to the detailed implementation of these Statutes are dealt with at a lower level, such as in Regulation, Policy or Procedure.
Regulations are legislative instruments made under a Statute. Generally, regulations set out the procedural aspects and more specific process details of the subject matter described in the governing statute. Regulations may be amended more frequently than a Statute in order to reflect organisational change and can only be made, amended or rescinded by Council. Regulations may be generic and provide parameters within which policy is developed or may enable non-legislative rules to be made by an authorised body, such as the Academic Board, or the Vice-Chancellor & President. Both Statutes and Regulations are accessible to the general public through the RMIT website.
It is neither possible nor desirable to regulate by legislation every aspect of the University’s operations. The Act, Statutes and Regulations are complemented by Policies and Procedures that either provide more detailed requirements for practice than specified in the relevant legislation, or cover new areas of operation not covered in the formal legislation.
A policy is a formal statement of principle that explains statutory, regulatory or organisational requirements. Policies enhance the operations and management of the University. They serve as a basis for future decisions and actions, and encourage decision-making by offering guides. Policies also increase consistency of action by increasing the probability that individuals will make similar decisions when independently facing similar situations.
University policy is defined using all of the following criteria:
- it is a formal statement of principle that regulates, directs and controls University operations
- it has application across the University
- it will change infrequently and sets a course for the foreseeable future
- it implements or enables the university’s strategic plan
University policy helps ensure compliance, enhances the university’s mission or reduces institutional risk.
RMIT Policies are divided into three categories:
- Academic policies and procedures - those that influence decisions made by academic staff in direct connection to their teaching, learning and research practices, or to establish a framework for the quality assurance of programs and research.
- Governance policies and procedures - those that relate to the structures and processes of decision making and the controls and behaviours that support effective accountability and performance outcomes.
- Service policies and procedures - those policies and procedures other than academic or governance policies and procedures, such as human resources, finance, facilities and services.
The relevant approval authority for RMIT Policies depends on the categories of policy and whether it is a new policy or an amendment to an existing policy. The approval authority ranges from the University Secretary to the Council as set out in the table at Appendix A.
Procedure tells users how to, and who will, implement the policy. Procedures are specific, factual, succinct and to the point. Procedures should evolve over time as new tools emerge, new processes are designed and the risks associated with an area change in response to internal or external environmental impacts. Procedures are university-wide and there may be more than one procedure informing a policy.
The relevant approval authority for RMIT Procedures depends on the categories of procedure and whether it is a new procedure or an amendment to an existing procedure. The approval authority ranges from the University Secretary to the Vice-Chancellor as set out in the table at Appendix A.
Instructions give effect to established principles or processes within policy and procedure and develop existing provisions in greater detail where such a need exists. Instructions include guidelines, templates, forms, proformas, flow charts and any material designed to support or supplement policy or procedure.
The relevant approval authority for RMIT Instructions are members of the Vice-Chancellor’s Executive.