The UNE Foundation (UNEF) is a public company limited by guarantee, which was established to receive, invest and make available to the university funds donated for scholarships, teaching, research and related purposes.
It has a strong governance and operational model that is very attractive to donors:
- While required to comply with certain investment guidelines laid down by the University Finance Committee, it operates independently of the University. It has a majority of independent directors, one of whom is the Chair.
- It utilises the advisory services of a highly capable investment manager, but all decisions on investment and expenditure remain with the Board.
- It releases funds to the University only after satisfying itself that the proposed expenditure is in accordance with donors’ wishes.
- The University provides operational support to UNEF at no charge to the Foundation. This, together with the fact that the directors serve without fee, means that there are no overheads; every dollar donated to the Foundation is available for the purpose for which it is donated.
- The Foundation’s accounts are audited annually by the State Audit Office of NSW.
An Independent Body
While it is for accounting and audit purposes a “controlled entity” of the University of New England, and must operate within certain prudential investment guidelines which UNEF establishes for the University and its controlled entities, UNEF operates independently of the University. Its directors include the Vice-Chancellor, a nominee of the University Council, and seven other directors, at least six of whom must not be Members of the Council, staff or students of the University. The Chair is an independent director.
As directors of a public company established under the Corporations Act, all directors have the responsibilities defined by the Act and in the performance of their UNEF duties are required at all times to act in the best interests of the Foundation.
Investment of Funds
The UNE Foundation retains Russell Investments to invest and manage the assets of the Foundation. Russell Investments holds on behalf of the Foundation a mix of cash and fixed assets along with a well-diversified portfolio with between 30% and 60% in growth assets. Russell Investments implements the following guidelines as established by the UNE Foundation:
- The preservation of capital in the Funds;
- The prudent growth in real terms of the corpus of the Funds;
- That investment returns are sufficient to meet any annual spending requirements relating to the Funds; and
- That there is sufficient liquidity in the Funds to respond to in a timely way to University drawdown requests.
While UNEF looks to Russell Investments to advise on the composition of and any changes to the portfolio, all investment transactions require the approval of the UNEF Board.