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About Durham University

How the University is run

University Council

The University's governing body, with ultimate responsibility for the affairs of the University, is the University Council, currently chaired by Robert Gillespie. The Council is also the Trustee Board and its members are the Trustees of the University. University Council has a number of committees. Find our more about Council and its committees here.

Senate

The Senate is, subject to the powers of Council, the University's supreme governing body in all academic matters. It has overall responsibility for academic quality and standards and is chaired by the Vice-Chancellor.

The governance structure of the University is laid down in its Statutes from which both Council and Senate derive their powers.

Legal structure

Durham University is a legally independent and autonomous institution established by Act of Parliament in 1832 and Royal Charter in 1837. It is also an educational charity. The University receives about a third of its income directly from the UK Government, via HEFCE (Higher Education Funding Council for England).

Leadership 

The University is led by the Vice-Chancellor and Warden (parallel to Chief Executive), currently Professor Chris Higgins DL, BSc (Dunelm), PhD (Dunelm), FRSE, FRSA, FMedSci). The Vice-Chancellor and Warden chairs the University Executive Committee (UEC) which is responsible for the day-to-day running of the University.

In his role as Warden, the Vice-Chancellor and Warden also has overall responsibility for fourteen of the University's Colleges - the Heads of College are directly responsible to the Vice-Chancellor through the Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Deputy Warden of the Colleges. The two recognised Colleges, St John's and St Chad's, are independent foundations with separate Governing Councils.

All Heads of Department, College, Research Institutes and Professional Support Services report directly to a member of UEC ensuring a flat line-management structure within the University.

The role of University Secretary is an independent function which reports directly to the Chair of Council and the Vice-Chancellor and Warden, as chair of Senate.