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Policy: Centres and Institutes


To outline principles for the establishment, management and closure of Centres and Institutes at ANU.


Centres and Institutes provide a readily identifiable face to external users, and the means to raise profile and visibility of activities. Research-focused Centres and Institutes are an important mechanism to enable cross-disciplinary research activities.


This Policy applies to all Centres and Institutes hosted at ANU. Centres and Institutes may be created as Academic Organisational Units or as more ‘virtual’ organisations within the University. Whilst many of the principles of operation are the same, Academic Organisational Units are subject to the Academic School or Department Accreditation Policy and Procedure.


A Centre is a formal academic grouping focused on a specific issue or discipline area.

An Institute is a formal multidisciplinary initiative with engagement from at least three ANU Colleges.

There are three distinct types of Centres/Institutes:

    ANU Centres and ANU Institutes. These entities are created internally through this policy and procedure for a specific purpose. For clarity, Innovation Institutes are considered ANU Institutes and within the scope of this Policy.
    Externally Funded Research Centres. Centres (or Nodes of Centres) that are externally supported by a fixed grant and managed according to rules of that scheme. [Examples include NHMRC Centres of Research Excellence, ARC Centres of Excellence, Cooperative Research Centres]
    Joint ANU-External Partner Centres. Joint ANU-External Partner Centres are a significant collaborative effort between ANU and an external partner (University, Government agency, industry), that is not primarily funded by a competitive grant.

The Responsible Area for a Centre or Institute is a School, College or other Business Unit. The responsibilities of the Responsible Area include:

  • Leading development of the Proposal;
  • Coordinating provision of adequate space, access to resources and operational and administrative support to the Centre or Institute;
  • Ensuring the governance of the Centre or Institute is in place, active and fit-for-purpose;
  • Reviewing and approving annual budget and financial reports;
  • Ensuring that reviews take place according to a schedule set out in the proposal;
  • Taking the lead on formal recommendations to change the scope or disestablish the Centre or institute; and
  • Coordinating implementation of any major changes to the scope or operations, including transitional arrangements and winding up of activities.

Policy Statement


  1. ANU establishes Centres and Institutes in order to create critical mass and visibility of certain activities aligned with the University’s strategic plan.
  2. Centres and Institutes have the following characteristics:
  1. Added strategic value. A Centre or Institute aims to achieve outcomes and objectives aligned with the strategic goals of the University. A Centre or Institute can develop and respond to opportunities that cannot be achieved through business-as-usual within Schools and ANU Colleges. These entities may serve as a high-profile conduit for external engagement.
  2. Collegial environment. A Centre or Institute builds community around a particular topic, and does so in a way that is inclusive to staff and students who can bring different disciplinary or background perspectives.
  3. Unique platform. A Centre or Institute creates an outstanding inclusive environment that may support research, education, training networking and industry relationship and other high quality activities.
  4. Fixed term. A Centre or Institute is approved to operate for no more than 5 years at a time before review and renewal.
  5. Critical mass. A Centre or Institute (other than an Externally-led Centre) has a core of regular activity and is maintained by a register of active staff and/or participants.
  6. Budget. A Centre or Institute has a General Ledger Code or Department Code distinct from their Responsible Area.

Structure and Governance

  1. All Centres and Institutes have a Responsible Area – which may be a College, School or other Business Unit.
  2. Each Centre and Institute has a management and governance structure appropriate to provide oversight and independent advice on the Centre or Institute’s objectives and progress.
  3. Each Centre and Institute has a Director, who bears primary responsibility for delivery of the entity’s milestones and outcomes.
  4. A Centre or Institute may or may not be an Academic Organisational Unit. AOUs are used for reporting in the Higher Education Student Collections and are used within ANU for internal reporting purposes. The decision on whether or not a Centre or Institute will receive an AOU should consider the scope, intended duration, potential for teaching and other revenue streams, and the level of independence of the proposed Centre/Institute.
  5. Participation by a staff member in a Centre or Institute must be approved by the staff member’s supervisor and/or School Director following appropriate discussion about the potential impact of participation on other obligations such as teaching, research project delivery and service engagements.

Establishment, Review and Disestablishment

  1. All new and renewed Centres and Institutes are approved according to the Procedure.
  2. All Centres and Institutes are regularly reviewed in line with the Procedure.
  3. A Centre or Institute is disestablished if it is no longer an appropriate mechanism to support university research and teaching strategic objectives.


  1. All Centres and Institutes require an operational plan for the initial term of the Centre or Institute. Depending on the nature of the Centre or Institute, it may include key performance indicators, pathways to generate revenues, processes to track, manage and forecast performance. In the case of Externally Funded Research Centres, the financial plan and budget is largely specified by the funding agreement, supplemented by local area operational costs associated with the physical hosting of the Centre.
  2. Operational funding tied to research, teaching and HDR activities of Centres and Institutes is distributed to Colleges as per standard ANU processes.

Naming Conventions

  1. Any new Centre or Institute with ‘National’ or ‘Australian’ in the title must be nationally distinctive or prominent, and must justify the name based on the activities and focus of the Centre.
  2. The following terms should not be used in the title of a Centre or Institute: ‘Network’, ‘Hub’, ‘Initiative’, ‘Project’, ‘Unit’, ‘Team’. These words are typically used to describe more informal projects and initiatives that are governed by this Policy and Procedure, and do not require registration.
  3. New proposals must follow the Naming Recognition policy and procedure.
  4. For clarity, the naming conventions above do not apply to units or entities that were established prior to the effective date of this Policy.


Printable version (PDF)
Title Centres and Institutes
Document Type Policy
Document Number ANUP_012009
Purpose To outline principles for the establishment, management and closure of Centres and Institutes at ANU
Audience Staff-Academic, Staff-Academic-Research, Staff, Staff-Professional
Category Governance
Topic/ SubTopic Governance & Structure
Effective Date 21 Sep 2023
Next Review Date 21 Sep 2028
Responsible Officer: Director Planning and Service Performance
Approved By: Vice-Chancellor
Contact Area Planning and Service Performance Division
Delegations 0

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