September 2021 marks the beginning of a new 3-year term for Academic Council.  Elections for new members will be held in June 2021 via an e-voting portal (details to follow). The upcoming elections present an opportunity for you to shape the future direction of the academic mission of the University.

What is Academic Council?

Academic Council plays a critical role in setting the academic direction of the University.  Academic Council is a democratically-elected representative body with membership based on College affiliation, with representatives across all the academic grades, including researcher, Lecturer, Senior Lecturer and Professorial grades, as well as Heads of School and students. There are a total of 125 members, inclusive of College and ex officio membership which includes, Vice-Presidents, Directors of Academic Support Units and Deans. 

Chaired by the President, Council conducts its business through a number of sub Committees including Academic Standing Committee, Research & Innovation Committee, Teaching & Learning Committee, Quality Enhancement Committee and Library Strategy Committee. Academic Council meets regularly to consider reports from all of the core academic and academic support units, and make decisions on matters of academic policy, procedures and planning.

Academic Council also provides advice to Údarás na hOllscoile in respect of academic matters, through regular formal reports to the Governing Authority.

In addition to the academic responsibilities set out in point 2 below, Academic Council performs a number of important functions:

  • The provision of advice to Údarás na hOllscoile on all Statutes and Regulations, including those which determine the academic governance and management structures of the University
  • Academic direction with regard to various strategic opportunities including the University’s response to sector-led Higher Education initiatives, Strategic Planning, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion activities, etc.
  • Academic Council is the final decision-making body for key Committees including Standing Committee, Research & Innovation Committee, Teaching & Learning Committee, Quality Enhancement Committee Library Strategy Committee, various Committees providing oversight to the Student Experience, etc.
  • Academic policy with regard to all aspects of the University’s research and teaching & learning agendas
  • Academic Council advises the Governing Authority on the details of various academic promotion and progression schemes and academic grade structures

Role of Academic Council?

Legislative Context for Academic Councils in the Irish University sector
Under the Irish Universities Act 1997, governance arrangements for Irish universities follow a bicameral model, with Governing Authorities exercising overall governance responsibility for Universities and Academic Councils having a particular responsibility for the governance of the academic affairs of universities.  Specifically, section 27 of the Irish Universities Act 1997 provides that ‘each University shall have an Academic Council which shall control the academic affairs of the University, including the curriculum of, and instruction and education provided by, the University’.

Responsibilities of Academic Council

The Universities’ Act sets out the following responsibilities of Academic Council:

(a)    to design and develop programmes of study,

(b)    to establish structures to implement those programmes,

(c)     to make recommendations on programmes for the development of research,

(d)    to make recommendations relating to the selection, admission, retention and exclusion of students generally,

(e)    to propose the form and contents of statutes to be made relating to the academic affairs of the university, including the conduct of examinations, the determination of examination results, the procedures for appeals by students relating to the results of such examinations and the evaluation of academic progress,

(f)      to make recommendations for the awarding of fellowships, scholarships, bursaries, prizes or other awards,

(g)    to make general arrangements for tutorial or other academic counselling,

(h)    to perform any other functions, not in conflict with this Act, which may be delegated to it by the governing authority, and

(i)      to implement any statutes and regulations made by the governing authority relating to any of the matters referred to in this subsection.

Election 2021 - 2024

An election will be held by e-voting over a 27-hour window from Monday June 14th, 2021 at 10am to 1pm on Tuesday June 15th, 2021 (Irish time). A link to the e-voting portal will be provided here in advance of the ballot opening. Visit our candidate information page here

University staff can run for election and vote in one of two elections as follows:

  • Academic Staff Elections: College elections will be held to elect members across the academic grades of Lecturer, Senior Lecturer and Professor
  • Postdoctoral Researcher Elections: Elections of Postdoctoral staff will be held in each College to elect 2 Postdoctoral staff per College

Student Elections

Students’ Union elections will be held in each College to elect 2 students per College.


Following an extension of the deadline for nominations (Friday, May 28th at 6pm Irish time), nominations for election to the next Academic Council are now closed.

Eligible Nominees

Academic Staff Elections

All College members holding an academic contract at Lecturer, Senior Lecturer and Professor levels by May 1st 2021 are eligible to run for election in the Academic Staff constituency only.

Postdoctoral Researcher Elections

All staff of a College holding research contracts by May 1st 2021 are eligible to run for election in the Postdoctoral staff election only.

Student Elections

All registered students of a College are eligible to run for election.

Composition of Academic Council Statute CCCLVI


Academic Council Election Regulations 2021

Academic Council Election Procedures

Ballraíocht na Comhairle Acadúla: Toghcháin na gColáistí

College Quotas

Academic Council Elections 2021 Gender Quotas

Cuótaí Inscne

Timeline for Elections

Academic Council Election Timelines

Board Membership: What is involved?

Time commitment: Academic Council meets five times per year in the middle of the month in October, December, February, April and June. Documentation for meetings is provided two weeks in advance and requires a couple of days reading and preparation.

For informal queries on Board Membership contact the Secretary for Governance & Academic Affairs:

What our current members have to say...

Ms Mary Dempsey, Senior Lecturer, Mechanical Engineering

My experience of Academic Council is very positive, I benefited from understanding how staff can influence UMT decisions.  In my opinion the key skills/attributes needed to be an Academic Council Member is honesty and being an efficient clear speaker.

Dr Gary Gillanders, College Lecturer in Experimental Physics, College of Science & Engineering Vice Dean for Education & Students

My experience of Academic Council is largely a positive one enabling better insight into how things work at University level.   A better understanding of views of colleagues from other colleges.

Academic Council gives opportunity to hear a student viewpoint on different policies and regulations and to hear how they impacted on students.

Being a member of Academic Council gives you opportunity to contribute to discussions of items in the forum where decisions on those items were made. 

Keys skills needed are a capacity to listen to viewpoints of others and base their decisions based on broader picture than their disciplinary viewpoint.

Dr Oonagh Meade, Postdoctoral Researcher, School of Psychology

The research staff representatives have worked as a team to bring research staff members' voices into different working groups in the university and we our Working Group currently report to Academic Council on such matters as career progression, pensions, and equality and inclusion for Research Staff.

Also being new to the University Academic Council allowed me to understand University structures and processes.  I met new colleagues and as a result I was invited onto new committees (College Research Committee, Institutional Athena Swan SAT) and feel this has been very beneficial to ensuring the voice of research staff is included at various levels in the University.

Key skill requirements are a willingness to speak up and listen! And to have an interest in improving College experiences for students and staff.

Dr Collette Kelly, Senior Lecturer in Health Promotion

Academic Council has been a great experience, l really enjoyed it. I will miss it. 

The benefits to being on Academic Council is meeting new people from across University, learning about how the University functions, decision making. Being able to raise issues that matter. 

Key skills to being an effective member of Academic Council is to be a good communicator, aware of key issues in your College/across University, confidence to raise matters for debate.

Dr Anthony Hall, Senior Lecturer in Educational Technology, Deputy Head of School of Education

My experience of Academic Council has been really excellent, especially because the meetings are exceptionally well organised and chaired, which help to ensure key issues are discussed thoroughly and in a balanced and inclusive way.

The benefits to being a member of Academic Council are

  • you get a greater awareness of key issues influencing student and academic life at NUI Galway
  • having the opportunity to raise and discuss important university matters,
  • a feeling like I'm contributing in an important way to the strategic direction and development of our university
  • meeting and engaging with colleagues across schools and faculties (pre-COVID-19);
  • a deeper understanding of important drivers of my own institution and the higher education sector more broadly, which has proven to be very helpful/useful in successful funding bids
  • seeing how large plenary meetings can be conducted in a professional manner that is open, respectful of and responsive to the needs of members.

Key skills for being a member of Academic Council are

  • openness to continual innovation and development, which are hallmarks of educational change, particularly at tertiary level.
  • the capacity to articulate and communicate key concerns and issues, as needed.
  • having a respectful, inclusive outlook, and capacity to relate to, and understand the perspectives of students and colleagues.
  • an awareness of the constraints on the higher education sector, and our university, but also a progressive attitude that things can change and be improved; and finally an understanding of the prevailing policy context, key stakeholders and the changing higher education landscape in Ireland.
Dr Seán Crosson, Senior Lecturer, Huston Film School

As a member of Academic Council, I have appreciated the opportunity the past three years have given me to contribute to the development and implementation of academic policy and decisions within the University. That period was particularly important as it also involved the drafting and agreeing of a new University Strategy launched in 2020 and Academic Council was actively involved in that process. While challenging at times given the considerable documentation that has to be considered prior to meetings, I have appreciated greatly the insights and understandings gained into the processes involved in the development and implementation of academic policy and strategy within the University.

It also gave me the opportunity to meet and collaborate with a broad range of colleagues from across the University at Council meetings and to interact and raise questions directly with senior staff.

The skills required of a member of academic council include a willingness to listen and learn from colleagues, but also a genuine interest in academic policy and how it is framed and impacts on University life. I also believe members of academic council should be prepared to speak up on issues of concern, and also be willing to consider in some detail the substantial documentation that comes before Council, particularly as policy decisions taken at AC meetings can have very significant impact on academic programmes and life in the University.

Dr Michael Creane, Research Fellow, Regenerative Medicine Institute (REMEDI)

My experience was very positive. Being on AC enabled me to build a better network with my research and academic colleagues.  This enabled me to become part of new committees and working groups/task forces within the university and also nationally.

I obtained a better understanding of the governance structures within the university. Being part of AC made me feel more included and allowed me to give my viewpoints from a researcher perspective.

Key skills are good written and oral communication skills and attention to detail. There is a large proportion of documents that need to be viewed prior to the meetings. Therefore good time management skills and patience is required. Also I believe an AC member should be objective and inclusive to other colleague’s opinions even if they differ from your own.

Aine Ní Leime, Researcher, Irish Centre for Social Gerontology

Ahead of the upcoming NUI Galway Academic Council Elections, current Council member, Aine Ní Leime, shares her insights.

Watch Now

Srinivasan Raghavendran, Lecturer, School of Economics

Ahead of the upcoming NUI Galway Academic Council Elections, current Council member, Srinivasan Raghavendran, shares his insights.

Watch Now