Human Resources

Heads of School

Further information

  • HR policies
  • Titles and roles

Heads of School play a critical role in achieving the mission and priorities of the University and form part of the University’s senior leadership group. This guidance provides information about the role of Heads of School, their terms of employment and their selection and appointment along with the normal recruitment plan for Heads of School.

  1. Role of the Head of School
  2. Term of appointment
  3. Selection and appointment of Heads of School
  4. Fifteen-month recruitment plan

1. Role of the Head of School

Position Title
Head of School
Position Classification
Level D or E
Position Number
Supervisor Title
Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor

The role

As the Head of School, you will provide exceptional academic, strategic, and operational leadership to support the School’s student experience, learning and teaching, and research outcomes. You will provide academic leadership to further the mission of the University, including participation in senior university committees and boards and promoting the university and their discipline to the community. You will bring a demonstrable commitment to progress on equality, diversity and inclusion and have a commitment to building links with external stakeholders in government, industry and/or the community. Working collaboratively within the College of Schools and across the University, the Head of School will positively engage members of their School to deliver high-quality results in support of the University strategy.

Expectations of the role

  • Translate the University’s strategic priorities into strategies and actions that articulate the School’s strategic ambition.
  • Communicate, implement and monitor annual and medium-term goals to meet set School strategies and actions.
  • Lead and govern the School in way that ensures compliance with the law, University statute, policies and procedures.
  • Develop effective and equitable School governance structures and ensure that these structures are constituted in accordance with the University’s statutes, Governance policies and procedures.
  • Chair the School Board and ensure School meetings are held regularly and minutes are communicated appropriately.
  • Manage risk and ensure compliance with regulatory and ethical standards.
Research and Teaching
  • Oversee the planning, development, renewal and accreditation of academic programs and pedagogy offered by the School.
  • Deliver the School’s teaching and learning priorities in accordance with University policies to ensure the educational offering is relevant, responsive, of high quality and attracts right number and quality of students.
  • Continuously monitor student experience, satisfaction, well-being, safety and diversity within the School and address areas where improvements are needed.
  • Deliver the School’s research priorities in accordance with University policies to ensure the research output of the School is of high quality, internationally competitive and suitable to fully exploit opportunities for collaboration and interdisciplinary innovation.
  • In consultation with GRC and GRS, agree on higher degree completion targets and ensure the Schools meets those set targets.
  • Support the management of intellectual property, in line with University policies and procedures.
  • Promote the School’s research and enhance its impact, significance and benefits.
External Engagement
  • Understand and influence the external environment in which the School operates.
  • Proactively manage relationships with, and a strong service ethos to, the community as an integrated component of the educational and research activities of the School.
  • Develop or maintain positive working relationships with government and the industry at state and national levels and with key funding bodies to maximise opportunities (across research and education) for the School.
  • Lead engagement with School alumni, adjunct and honourary staff and provide leadership on fundraising opportunities for the School.
  • Forge and maintain external relations essential to the School's business, promoting the University to external bodies and organisations.
  • Represent the University and the School in the external community locally, nationally, and internationally.
  • Ensure the School’s offerings are aligned with the requirements set by professional accreditation bodies, where appropriate.
General Management
  • Create a culture that promotes the fair and equitable treatment of staff and students in the School, consistent with the University’s vision and values.
  • Ensure that the School is governed and managed in accordance with Finance policies and procedures.
  • Ensure that the School is governed and managed in accordance with HR policies and procedures.
  • Ensure workforce plans, diversity and succession plans are performed in accordance with HR policies and guidance.
  • Meet advancement targets.
  • Take all reasonable steps to ensure that practices within the School comply with the law, University statute, policies and procedures.
  • Manage data in accordance with data risk policies and procedures.
  • Work productively with support units of the University to ensure adequate facilities and systems are available for the School to ensure School priorities are met.
  • Chair or serve on a range of University committees and working groups.

*Note: The order of the responsibilities does not determine the importance of the responsibility. All responsibilities are equally important.

Required capabilities

  • Leadership credibility and ability to influence (externally and internally) through depth and breadth of expertise, and the ability to seek, review and apply best practice.
  • Personal effectiveness and self-management, particularly time management and the ability to be flexible, adaptable and to operate effectively under pressure.
  • Demonstrated integrity and fairness, along with the ability to provide leadership in a large and complex setting while also operating effectively and supportively as part of a team.
  • A demonstrated understanding of setting budgets and the ability to manage operations within the set budget.
  • Demonstrated ability to think, plan and communicate strategically, and to anticipate trends and opportunities.
  • The ability to manage practices and processes that facilitate and support high quality teaching and research outcomes.
  • Commitment to the values of equity and diversity, demonstrated understanding of the diverse nature of the University’s community, and a willingness to work with staff, students and visitors from a wide range of backgrounds.
  • Demonstrated ability to articulate a clear direction and to secure commitment to a vision by inspiring and motivating colleagues.
  • An academic track record showcasing credibility and influence.
  • Potential and ability to initiate and manage change.

Special requirements (selection criteria)

Domestic and overseas travel may be required

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2. Term of appointment

To encourage long term strategic planning in the leadership of the School, Heads will normally be appointed for five years. The appointment may be renewed for a further period. Heads and the SDVC will negotiate an annual set of agreed goals and outcomes that reflect the priorities of the University and School. The performance of the Head will be reviewed annually through the University’s performance review process.

Remuneration and rewards for Heads of School

Each Head will negotiate with the SDVC a total remuneration package consisting of an allowance, payable subject to performance, and other support to enable the Head of School to maintain their academic profile during their appointment.


Heads of School will not normally be able to take sabbatical leave during the term of their appointment, unless such leave is specifically approved by the SDVC. An agreed period of sabbatical, based on accumulated entitlements, may be taken at the completion of the appointment, in accordance with UWA's Sabbatical policy. Successful service as Head of School is an important component of service to the University and is favourably viewed in the academic promotion process.

Leadership and skill development

Newly appointed Heads (whether appointed for the first time, or whether re-appointed after a period away from the position) are required to complete the University’s leadership program at the start of their term.

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3. Selection and appointment of Heads of School


Appointment and re-appointment as Head of School is made by letter of appointment from the SDVC, for a nominal specified period (up to five years). The SDVC has the discretion to shorten or end the period of appointment of any Head of School and to appoint an alternate Head of School or to make no appointment, depending on specific circumstances. Appointments of Deputy Heads or Acting Heads are made by the Head of School after consulting with the SDVC.

The selection process

The SDVC will look first to professorial level staff as potential candidates for the position of Head. Where a potential Head is not a professor, she/he should be a person of high academic standing, with relevant leadership experience. Such a person will be appointed as Head of School at Level D. Such a Head, should they not have been successful in applying for promotion, will revert to their substantive Level at the end of their Headship.

Timing of the selection process

It is preferable that a Head be identified fifteen months prior to commencing their duties in order that they can participate in forward planning, appropriate leadership development and to engage in a handover process with the current Head. In the event that none of the current staff members are deemed appointable as Head will the SDVC commence with an external search 12 months before the current Head’s arrangement comes to an end. The SDVC will convene a Search and Screen Committee, predominantly made up of members from the School, who will support the SDVC to identify potential candidates. The Search and Screen Committee will also provide recommendations to the Selection Committee and at least one member from the Search and Screen Committee will represent the School on the Selection Committee.

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4. Fifteen-month recruitment plan

ActionsResponsibleNumber of days
Briefing meeting and internal EOISDVC briefs DHR and Talent Acquisition when HoS not renewedSearch commence
Review current staff interest in HoS roleSDVC and DHR90
Identified staff member commence with Leadeship Development or Search and Screen Committee convene if no internal candidates are identifiedSDVC, DHR and Talent Acquisition identify and invite Search and Screen Members14
Search activity commencesSearch and Screen Committee (SSC)30
Position advertisedTalent Acquisition7
Advertisement closesTalent Acquisition70
Shortlisted candidate pack shared with selection committeeTalent Acquisition7
Shortlisting meeting, decision and selection assessments confirmedSelection Committee Members7
Interview packs and referee reports shared with selection committeeTalent Acquisition14
Interviews and further assessments performedSelection Committee Members14
Negotiations with preferred candidate and offerSDVC and DHR7
Appointment announcedTalent Acquisition and UWA Communications14
On boarding commenceSDVC & HR182