Back to top


CAUT Policy Statement

If post-secondary institutions are to fulfill their public responsibilities for the creation, preservation, and transmission of knowledge and for the education of students, academic staff must play the decisive role in making academic decisions and setting academic policy.

Final authority for administrative and financial matters should be the responsibility of the Board of Governors composed primarily of community representatives.  Board members should also include representatives of administration, academic staff, alumni, non-academic staff and students. Membership on subcommittees of the Board should be open to all of its members.

Academic decisions and setting of academic policy should be the responsibility of a senior academic body (typically called a Senate1) committed to collegial governance.

Both the Board and the Senate should operate within the context of procedures and rules set out in legislation constituting the institution and in collective agreements negotiated between the institution and its academic staff. Every effort should be made to ensure that the Senate reflects the diversity of the academic community at its institution and that the Board reflects the diversity of the community in which the institution is located.

The majority of the senior academic body should be academic staff elected by their colleagues with additional representatives elected by students. The President and Vice- President (Academic) should be ex officio members with vote. Other administrators at the rank of Associate Dean and above should have voice but no vote. There should be one or two representatives elected by the Board of Governors. There should be a Speaker of Senate elected by the Senate who should have no other administrative post within the university.

Academic staff should be a majority in all bodies that make recommendations or decisions on academic matters in departments, faculties or schools or colleges.

The President and the Vice-President (Academic) should be appointed with the approval of both the Senate and the Board in an open and transparent process. Such appointments should be made on the recommendation of search committees which should include a substantial number of academic staff as well as student and support staff representation.

Approved by the CAUT Council, November 2014.

1 Although the term – Senate- is used in most institutions, other terms are used, e.g., General Faculties Council (at most Alberta universities), University Council (universities in Saskatchewan), Conseil universitaire (Laval), Education Council (colleges and institutes in British Columbia), Learning Council (University College of the North). A few institutions (e.g., University of Toronto) have a unicameral system with a Governing Council that fulfills the roles of both Board of Governors and Senate.