The Council is the governing body of the University and is responsible for overseeing the institution’s activities, determining its future direction and fostering an environment in which institutional objectives are achieved and the potential of all learners is realised. Subject to the Charter and Statutes of the University, the Council takes all final decisions on matters of fundamental concern to the institution.
All members of Council are trustees of the charity "The University of Ulster".
The Senate is responsible for the academic work of the University and for providing the Council with assurance on academic quality.
The Council approves the University’s strategic plans, as well as learning and teaching, financial, people and culture, estates, and other operational strategies which underpin them, and monitors the University’s performance in achieving its goals, within a robust risk framework.
The Council is also responsible to the Department for the Economy for the proper use of public funds and for establishing and monitoring effective systems of internal control, risk, and accountability.
The detailed composition and functions of the Council are set out in the Charter, Statutes, Ordinances and Regulations of the University.
Terms of Reference for Council
- To provide leadership on strategy, stewardship and overall governance.
- On the recommendation of the Senate, to institute or discontinue Faculties and other academic Schools/Departments of the University and to establish and disestablish academic posts.
- To authorize and control the establishment and disestablishment of other posts and to determine the policies for the appointment, conditions of appointment and remuneration of all employees of the University.
- On the recommendation of the Senate, to designate persons, not being members of the Academic Staff, as recognized teachers of the University whose functions shall be prescribed by Regulation. This function is now performed by the Learning and Teaching Committee. It is not under the Delegated Authority Framework table.
- To control the appointment of other persons working for or in, or providing a service, for the University and the payment of honoraria, fees and other remuneration to such persons.
- To make provision, so far as the Council may think fit, for schemes and insurance, superannuation pensions or retirement benefits for all employees of the University and their dependants.
- To determine all University fees and to impose and recover all such other charges and deposits as may seem to the Council to be necessary or appropriate. The Resources Committee receives and approves tuition and fees annually. It is not under the Delegated Authority Framework table.
- To institute, on the recommendation of the Senate (and subject, where appropriate, to any conditions acceptable to the Council and to the Senate which might be made by the founders) Fellowships, Studentships, Exhibitions, Bursaries, Prizes and other aids to study and research. The majority of this is under Learning and Teaching Committee and Resources Committee.
- On the recommendation of the Senate, to deprive persons of any Degrees, Diplomas, Certificates or other academic distinctions granted to or conferred on them by the University.
- On the recommendation of the Senate, and subject to Statute II, to make Ordinances to regulate the discipline of students and other persons.
- To receive and call for reports from the Senate, to review the work of the University and, subject to the powers of the Senate, to take such steps as it thinks proper for the purpose of advancing the interests of the University, maintaining its efficiency and encouraging teaching, the pursuit of learning and the prosecution of research therein.
- To accept, reject, review, amend or refer back any recommendation made by the Senate; provided that no such recommendation may be rejected or reviewed or amended before being referred again to the Senate for consideration and report.
- In accordance with Articles 5 and 16 of the Charter to do all things deemed necessary by the Council for the efficient management and administration of the revenue and property of the University; and in particular:
- to govern, manage and regulate the finances, accounts, investments, property, business and all affairs, including the risks associated with the business and affairs, whatsoever of the University and for that purpose to appoint bankers and any other officers or agents whom it may deem expedient to appoint and to cause books of accounts to be kept in such manner as to give a true and fair view of the state of the University’s affairs and to explain its transactions;
- to invest any moneys belonging to the University in such stocks, funds, fully paid shares or securities as the Council shall think fit whether within the United Kingdom or not, in the purchase of freehold or leasehold hereditaments, including rents; provided that, in the case of moneys held by the University as trustees, the power conferred by this paragraph shall be exercised subject to the provisions of the law relating to investments by trustees;
- to sell, buy, exchange, lease and accept leases of real and personal property on behalf of the University;
- to borrow money on behalf of the University and for that purpose to mortgage or charge all or any part of the property of the University whether real or personal unless the conditions of any will, deed, gift or other instrument are thereby contravened, and to give such other security whether upon real or personal property or otherwise as the Council may think fit;
- to provide the buildings, premises, furniture and equipment and other means required for carrying on the work of the University;
- to enter into, vary, carry out and cancel contracts on behalf of the University;
- to give on behalf of the University, guarantees, whether in pursuance of continuing arrangements or not;
- to receive and call for such reports and to make such arrangements as it thinks proper for the promotion and maintenance of efficiency and good order in the University.
The Council will have due regard in reaching decisions to their impact on, and implications for, the University’s commitment to ensuring equality of opportunity and good relations as outlined in its Equality Scheme, and associated policies, and where possible and practicable the Council will ensure that its actions are proactive in this respect.
These Terms of Reference will be subject to annual review.
Statement of Primary Responsibilities
The Council is the governing body of the University and its members are the trustees in relation to the University’s status as an exempt charity. The Council is responsible for overseeing the University’s activities, determining its future direction, and fostering an environment in which institutional objectives are achieved.
This Statement is based on the model statement contained in the Higher Education Code of Governance, published by the Committee of University Chairs in September 2020, adapted to reflect the powers and responsibilities that the Council derives from its approved Charter and Statutes.
Consistent with the University’s constitution, the primary responsibilities of the University Council are as follows:
- To provide oversight and accountability for the University’s arrangements for governance and risk management.
- To set and agree the mission, strategic vision and values of the University with the Executive, in accordance with its primary objectives of learning, teaching and research.
- To approve and keep under review the University’s long-term academic and strategic plans, including key performance indicators, ensuring that these meet the interests of stakeholders, especially staff, students, alumni and other beneficiaries.
- To ensure that processes are in place to monitor and evaluate the performance and effectiveness of the University against the strategy, plans and approved key performance indicators, which should be, where possible and appropriate, benchmarked against other comparable institutions.
- To delegate authority to the Vice-Chancellor, as Head of the Institution, for the academic, corporate, financial, estate and human resource management of the University.
- Through an effective Scheme of Delegated Authority, regularly reviewed by Council, to establish and keep under review the policies, procedures and limits within such management functions as shall be undertaken by, and under the authority of, the Vice-Chancellor.
- To ensure the establishment and monitoring of systems of control and accountability, including financial and operational controls, risk assessment, value for money arrangements and robust procedures for handling internal grievances and managing conflicts of interest.
- To establish processes to monitor and evaluate the performance and effectiveness of Council itself.
- To conduct its business in accordance with best practice in Higher Education corporate governance, the University’s agreed values, and with the principles of public life drawn up by the Committee on Standards in Public Life.
- To safeguard the good name and values of the University.
- To appoint the Vice-Chancellor as Chief Academic and Administrative Officer of the University, and as its Accounting Officer, and to put in place suitable arrangements for monitoring their performance.
- To appoint a Secretary to Council and to ensure that, if the person appointed has managerial responsibilities in the institution, there is an appropriate separation in the lines of accountability.
- To be the employing authority for all staff in the University and to be accountable for ensuring that an appropriate people and culture strategy is established.
- To seek assurance that the University is meeting the conditions of funding as set by regulatory and funding bodies and other major University funders, and that the use of funds is in line with the principles of regularity, propriety and value for money.
- To be the principal financial and business authority of the University, to ensure that proper books of account are kept, to approve the annual budget and financial statements, and to have overall accountability for the University’s assets, property and estate.
- To be the University’s legal authority and, as such, to ensure systems are in place for meeting all its legal obligations, including those arising from contracts and other legal commitments made in the University’s name. This includes accountability for health, safety, wellbeing and security and for equality, diversity and inclusion.
- In consultation with Senate, to receive assurance that adequate provision has been made for the general welfare of students.
- To ensure that the procedures in place for managing students, including disciplinary procedures, are fair and equitable.
- To act as trustee for any property, legacy, endowment, bequest or gift in support of the work and welfare of the University.
- To determine regulations for the custody and use of the common seal of the University.
- To approve, for consideration by Privy Council, changes to the Charter and Statutes and to ensure that the institution’s constitution is always followed, and that appropriate advice is available to enable this to happen.
- To promote a positive culture which supports inclusivity and diversity across the institution, including within Council’s own composition.
- In partnership with Senate, to maintain and protect the principles of academic freedom and freedom of speech legislation.
- To ensure that all students and staff have appropriate opportunities to engage with the governance and management of the institution by operating in an open, honest and accountable manner.
- To ensure the University is appropriately accessible and relevant to its local communities and is open to engagement with local communities in identifying its role in delivering public/community benefit and economic civic duties.
26 June 2023
Some of the functions of the Council have been delegated to the following Committees:
- Audit and Risk Committee
- Resources Committee
- People Committee
- Belfast Campus Development (BCD) Committee
- City Deals and Special Projects Committee
For further information on the work of committees, contact Maria Loughrey