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University Governance 

Governance: Role of Division of Strategic Planning and Governance

The Division of Strategic Planning and Governance is responsible for the care and servicing of the main governing bodies of the University:  the Council, the Senate and the Court.  It also services the main Council standing committees:  Finance and General Purposes Committee, and the Estates Committee.
The office also provides clerical support for the University Management Advisory Group (UMAG).

The office provides a point of contact and advice for the whole University community on all governance-related matters.

Summary Description of
University Governance Structure


The Council is the governing body responsible for the finance, property investments and general business of the University, and for setting the general strategic direction of the institution.  The Council has adopted the following Statement of Primary Responsibilities in accordance with the principles contained within the CUC Governance Code of Practice.

The Council is the primary governing body of the University and is responsible for:

(i)   approving the mission of the University and ensuring that it meets the interests of groups who can affect or who are affected by the achievement of the mission;

(ii)   stimulating, challenging, evaluating and endorsing strategies to deliver the University's objectives on an ongoing and financially viable basis;

(iii)   ensuring that there are in place appropriate arrangements for the management of the University, particularly through the appointment of the Vice-Chancellor and the members of the senior management team;

(iv)   ensuring that there are appropriate systems of audit control and accountability;

(v)   approving the principal policies of the University (particularly in the areas of finance, estates and human resources) on the recommendations of its sub-committees, and ensuring that there is an ethical policy framework consistent with the University's Charter, Statutes and Ordinances and mission;

(vi)   making such provision as it thinks fit for the general welfare of students, in consultation with the Senate;

(vii)   ensuring that there is full and appropriate consultation on major issues with internal and external groups with an interest in the University - especially the students, staff, alumni, employers, local, regional and national bodies - and active communication and consultation with Court and Senate;

(viii)   monitoring the University's performance and effectiveness against its objectives through the use of key performance indicators (KPIs) and benchmarking.  The Council also regularly reviews its own effectiveness in facilitating the institutional performance.

The Council meets on a regular basis, usually six times a year.  At each meeting it generally receives a briefing from a senior manager about issues of key importance to the University.  The Council has reserved certain types of decision to itself and these are defined in Ordinance No. 4 (Matters reserved to Council for decision).  They include approval of the University's strategic plans, financial targets, determination of key issues such as whether there should be redundancies, and the appointment of the Vice-Chancellor.  The Council has delegated other decisions to the Vice-Chancellor or the Finance and General Purposes Committee as defined in the Delegation of Authorities.  The Council monitors management and institutional performance through the use of key performance indicators, using a balanced scorecare approach.

It has a majority of members who are neither staff nor students of the University (described as lay or independent members), one of whom is the Pro-Chancellor.  The Pro-Chancellor chairs meetings of the Council.  Also included in its members are representatives of the staff of the University and the student body.  None of the lay members receive any payment, apart from the reimbursement of expenses, for the work which they do for the University.  No member of Council or person connected to a member of Council received any benefit from scholarships or bursaries awarded to our students.

The full membership is listed here.

Members of Council serve on a number of committees and become involved in other activities and issues across the University, depending on interests and availability.

Appointments of lay members are made following advertisement and on the basis of recommendations from the Nominations Committee.  The only exception to this, made in recognition of the important relationship the University has with Lancaster City Council, is that the City Council may nominate one if its elected members eligible to serve as a lay member on the University Council.


The Senate is the academic authority of the University and draws its membership from the academic and academic-related staff and the students of the institution.  Its role is defined as follows.

The Senate has primary responsibility for the academic work of the University, both in teaching and in research, and for the regulation and superintendence of the education and discipline of the students of the University.  It may also discuss any matters relating to the University and may convey its opinions on them to the Council.  Its key responsibilities are for:

(i)   the strategic development of the academic activities of the University; and

(ii)   the approval of policies to promote and ensure the quality of the academic work of the University, including teaching and research.


The Court offers a means whereby the wider interests served by the University can be associated with the institution, and provides a public forum where members of Court can raise any matters about the University.  The Court has an annual meeting at which it receives reports on the working of the University, discusses any matters relating to the University, and conveys its opinion thereon to the Council or the Senate of the University.

A majority of the members of the Court will be from outside the University, representing the local community and other designated bodies with an interest in the work of the University, but the membership also includes representatives of the staff of the University (both academic and non-academic) and the student body.


The University Management Advisory Group (UMAG) is not constituted as a formal committee of the Senate or the Council and does not take decisions on matters that are the responsibility of these bodies.  However, it will often take a view on the recommendations and policies that might be put forward to these bodies for discussion and possible approval.  It meets on a weekly basis and its main roles can be summarised as:

  • to support and advise the Vice-Chancellor and his senior management team in carrying out their duties;
  • to act as a conduit of information from and to the University’s standing bodies (including Senate and Council) and members of the university;
  • to take an initial view of new or controversial business, particularly in regard to the appropriate routing of it through the University’s management and governance structure;
  • to present policy statements or proposals for discussion, comment or approval by other university bodies as appropriate;
  • to advise the Vice-Chancellor and other officers of the University in the exercise of their delegated powers.

Weekly reports of the UMAG meetings are posted on the University’s website and are accessible to all University members.

This page was last edited on: 06/12/2017 10:09