Oxford's governance structure stems from its long history. The two main bodies are Council and Congregation. Colleges and halls work together through the Conference of Colleges.
The Planning and Council Secretariat website provides a detailed overview of the University's governance.
Council is the University’s principal executive and policy-making body. It is responsible for
- advancing the University’s objectives
- the University’s administration
- managing the University’s finances and property
Council’s function, membership and conduct of business are outlined in the University’s statutes.
Who sits on Council?
Members of Council are the University's charity trustees. There are twenty five positions on Council, plus provision for up to three co-opted members. The Chair of Council is the Vice-Chancellor.
See a list of all members of Council.
Council's main committees
Council is advised by a range of committees, including five main committees that report directly to Council on core business:
- Education Committee
- General Purposes Committee (GPC)
- Personnel Committee
- Planning and Resource Allocation Committee (PRAC)
- Research Committee
Meetings of Council, agendas and non-confidential minutes and papers are posted on the Council website.
Congregation is the sovereign body of the University and acts as its ‘parliament’. It has over 5,000 members, which include
- academic staff of the University
- heads and other members of governing bodies of colleges
- senior research, computing, library and administrative staff
All resolutions passed by Congregation and all other acts and decisions taken by it are binding to Council.
Congregation has responsibility for
- approving changes to the University’s statutes and regulations
- considering major policy issues submitted by Council or members of Congregation
- electing members to Council and other University bodies
- approving the appointment of the Vice-Chancellor
Congregation’s function, membership and procedures are outlined in the University’s statutes.
Meetings of Congregation are held on Tuesdays of certain weeks during term time. To check dates of future meetings and read about past proposals and resolutions, visit the Congregation meetings page.
Information on business that is before Congregation is published in the Gazette, the authorised journal of record of the collegiate University. The Gazette is published each week from September to July (with brief breaks in the Christmas and Easter vacations). You can sign up to receive a print copy or email alert for the Gazette.
Becoming a member of Congregation
If your role entitles you to membership of Congregation, you should receive information on how to apply from your departmental administrator. Once your name has been added to the register, you will be sent information detailing Congregation procedures.
You can also apply for Congregation membership via self-nomination. Please make sure to read the criteria before you apply.
Members of Congregation automatically become members of Convocation, a body that also includes former student members of the University who have had a degree conferred by the University (other than an honorary degree), and retired members of Congregation, who were members of Congregation on the date of their retirement. Convocation never meets as a body. Its sole functions are to elect the Chancellor and the Professor of Poetry.
Conference of Colleges
The Conference of Colleges is where the colleges come together to deal with matters of shared interest and common purpose.
Conference and its sub-committees have two main functions:
- enable colleges to act collectively on issues that matter to them, which may range from sharing good practice to acting together to procure services
- act as a voice for college interests within the University community and allow colleges to debate and act upon the key issues of the day
For more information visit the Conference of Colleges website.