Vice Chancellor's Authorisations


DATE: 22 October 2009
Council Resolution 2009/5/8


REFERENCE AUTHORITY: Vice Chancellor; Director: Assurance Services


University of South Australia Act 1990, Section 15
Vice Chancellor’s Delegation (7 December 1992)
Vice Chancellor’s Authorisations
Financial Management Guidelines
Vice Chancellor’s Authorisation form


The Council of the University of South Australia (‘the University’) has delegated to the Vice Chancellor ‘such powers and functions of the Council as are reasonably necessary to enable the Vice Chancellor to undertake, whether personally or through properly authorised staff of the University, the management and administration of the University’.

The purpose of this policy is to build on that delegation and establish a framework for management and administration of the University through properly authorised staff. Authorisations are a key element in effective governance and management of the University and provide formal authority to staff to commit the University to action and/or incur liabilities for the University.

The framework provides authority to University staff to commit the University to:

  • expenditure
  • contractual relationships
  • employment relationships
  • formal academic decisions.

The intent of the framework is to capture the major decision points in the above areas; there is no intention to cover all decisions.


The Vice Chancellor will approve a framework of documented authorisations to facilitate the management and administration of the University. These authorisations are referred to as the Vice Chancellor’s Authorisations (VCAs).


This policy applies to all staff of the University.


The following definitions apply to this policy and the VCAs:

  • Authorisation – formal authority from the Vice Chancellor to an officer to commit the University to action and/or incur liabilities for the University. The formal authority is communicated in writing and recorded in the published Vice Chancellor’s Authorisations.
  • Sub-authorisation – the process of delegating specified aspects of an officer’s decision-making authority to another staff member. The nature of the decisions that can be sub-authorised, and their dollar value maximums, are strictly defined in the VCAs.
  • Approved expenditure levels – expenditure levels for the year are initially determined and approved as part of the Council approved Corporate Budget/Plan.
  • VCA – Vice Chancellor’s Authorisation. This refers to ‘authorisations’ and ‘sub-authorisations’
  • GST – Goods and Services Tax


  1. An authorisation cannot be exercised where the officer holding the VCA would personally benefit, or where a conflict of interest exists in relation to the delegation. In such circumstances, the action or commitment must be approved by the immediate line manager of the officer.
  2. When exercising a VCA, officers must have regard to all relevant University policies and procedures.
  3. An officer holding a VCA will at all times be subject to the general direction and authority of the Vice Chancellor and will be required to act within the policies and strategic directions set by Council.
  4. Commitments made by officers must be consistent with any specific funding conditions and any other relevant legal agreements.
  5. No officer may commit the University without a current VCA.
  6. Sub-authorisations only apply to a very limited range of transaction types, and within limited circumstances that are detailed in the procedures.
  7. The granting of a credit card or nomination of an officer as a cost centre manager does not imply authority to commit the University; that authority is only granted under the VCA framework.
  8. Staff who commit the University in contravention of this policy may face disciplinary action.


A. General

Authorisation limits indicated in the VCAs are maximum limits. For the purposes of management oversight and control, any person authorised under the VCAs may be instructed by their line manager to conform to a reduced limit, or advised that they have no authority to commit the University under the VCAs.

When determining whether a transaction fits within a specific Australian dollar value financial authorisation, the relevant transaction value excludes GST.

Transactions must not be split into multiple transactions to circumvent authority limitations. This practice is known as ‘transaction splitting’.

Where a contractual commitment extends over time, for the purposes of determining the appropriate authorisation level the value attached to that commitment decision is the whole life of the contract or commitment at the time the commitment is made. For example, the approval level of a 10 year lease would be determined by the total 10 year expected outlay.

B. Sub-authorisation

Sub-authorisations apply only in limited circumstances, which will be outlined in the instrument of sub-authorisation. Specified officers may sub-authorise eligible aspects of their authority to other staff members within the University to facilitate the efficient management and administration of operations. When providing a sub-authorisation, the following requirements apply:

  1. the sub-authorisation must be within the limits prescribed in the VCAs
  2. sub-authorisation can be given only to staff for whom the authorising officer has line authority
  3. the authorising officer remains responsible at all times for the proper exercise of that function by the staff member nominated
  4. the sub-authorisation must be in writing, using the appropriate form
  5. the written nominations are to individual staff members only, not to staff positions
  6. officers who establish a sub-authority are responsible for ensuring that the staff member being authorised is aware of relevant policies and procedures
  7. staff members holding a sub-authorisation cannot further delegate this authority.

A copy of all signed VCA sub-authorisation forms and any variations must be transmitted to Director: Assurance Services.

C. Acting positions

Authorisations apply to the position, not to an individual. Accordingly, where an officer is formally acting in a position, the authorities of that position apply. The following requirements apply:

  • the acting appointment, and its effective time period, must be notified in writing by the authorised officer to the person who will be undertaking the acting appointment, with a copy of the notification to Director: Assurance Services
  • approval for the acting appointment must be received from the line manager to whom the acting appointee will report.

D. Budget

Officers can only make a commitment under the VCAs where there is an approved budget. The Financial Management Guidelines provide further details.

E. Credit cards

General procurement

Granting of a credit card does not constitute a VCA. A staff member with a credit card who undertakes procurement must have a VCA or sub-authorisation if it is intended that they will be committing the University to the procurement of goods or services.


Granting of a credit card does not constitute a VCA. Where a University staff member has been issued a credit card for travel purposes, the Travel Guidelines maintained by the Finance Unit must be adhered to. The Travel Guidelines require that authorisation for all travel is obtained prior to the travel being undertaken. The card is not to be used other than for the purpose of approved travel. In this instance a sub-authorisation is not required by the credit card holder, as all expenditure should be relevant to the pre-approved travel activity.

Review and amendments

Triennial review

The VCA policy and VCAs will be reviewed periodically but no less than triennially by the Director: Assurance Services.

Review of sub-authorisations

All sub-authorisations must be reviewed periodically but no less than triennially by the authorising officer. As sub-authorisations attach to individuals rather than positions, there will be a need to review and revise the sub-authorisations when personnel changes occur.

When there is a change of personnel in a position included in the Authority Bands 1-5 (for example, a new Head of School) all previous sub-authorisations issued by the outgoing officer will remain in effect. The incoming officer should review all sub-authorisations in the area to confirm or revise them as desired.

Amendments to the VCAs

The following procedure shall be followed when making amendments to the VCAs.

  • Proposed changes to the VCAs must be detailed in writing to the Director: Assurance Services
  • The Director: Assurance Services will be responsible for compiling all amendments proposed or required to the VCAs
  • The Director: Assurance Services will obtain the Vice Chancellor’s approval to implement, modify or reject proposed changes
  • Following the Vice Chancellor’s approval of an amendment to the VCAs, the Director: Assurance Services will advise affected staff.
  • Changes made to the limits within the VCAs should be reported to Council annually for information.