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Durham University

University Committees

Ways of Working: Roles and Responsibilities

1. Background

The purpose of this document is to provide a summary of roles and responsibilities across the University.

2. Governance and Management Structure

As set out in University Statutes, Council is the supreme Governing Body of the University, while Senate is responsible for providing assurance as to academic quality and standards. Subject to the powers of Council and Senate, day-to-day running of the University is the responsibility of the University Executive Committee (UEC). The University has a flat line-management structure. UEC provides the first–tier leadership with all second tier leaders (Heads of Department; College Heads; Heads of Professional Support Departments, Institute Directors, non-executive Deans) responsible directly to a member of UEC.

3. University Executive Committee (UEC)

UEC is the University’s Executive, with collective responsibility to Council for delivering the University’s Strategy and underpinning resource management, although subject to the responsibilities of Senate for academic standards..

The membership and management/portfolio responsibilities of UEC members are:


Stuart Corbridge Vice-Chancellor and Warden (Chief Executive and Chair)

Deputy Vice-Chancellor & Provost:

Antony Long

Portfolio Pro-Vice-Chancellors: (Research) Claire Warwick

(Education) Alan Houston

Faculty Pro-Vice-Chancellors: (Arts and Humanities) David Cowling
(Science) Patrick Hussey
(Social Science and Health) Timothy Clark

(Colleges and Student Experience) Owen Adams

(Global) Claire O'Malley

Chief Operating Officer (COO): tba
Chief Financial Officer (CFO): Denise McConnell (Interim CFO)

The Vice-Chancellor is the Chief-Executive and Chair of UEC. All other members of UEC are responsible to the Vice-Chancellor.

UEC is jointly and collectively responsible for decisions taken and overseeing implementation.

Within UEC, individuals have specific responsibilities:

a) The Deputy Vice-Chancellor & Provost deputises for the Vice-Chancellor and provides strategic academic leadership on pan-University issues out-with the education and research portfolios, as defined by the Vice-Chancellor, and takes responsibility for development and implementation of specific strategies and policies for the advancement of the University as a whole.

b) Portfolio Pro-Vice-Chancellors have overarching strategic responsibility for the key areas of University strategy and for representing the University externally in their portfolio areas. They have minimal budgetary or line-management responsibility. Additionally, they have a defined role in linking UEC with Senate which has overall responsibility for academic standards. Thus, the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Education) and the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research) respectively chair the Education and Research committees of Senate.

The Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research) also has responsibility to UEC for strategy and core budgets of University Research Institutes and the Seedcorn Research Fund.

The Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Education) is responsible to Senate and Council through Education Committee for the development of policy and strategy underpinning learning and teaching and the student experience and all issues within the remit of the Education Committee.

c) Faculty Pro-Vice-Chancellors (Arts and Humanities, Social Sciences and Health, and Science) have delegated budgetary, line-management and planning responsibility for the Departments in their remit.

d) The Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Colleges and Student Experience) has delegated budgetary, line-management and planning responsibility for the (Council) Colleges. He oversees the delivery of the student experience, including personal development, sport and other (non-academic) student activities including outreach, culture and JCRs and the contribution of student support services to the student experience. He is also responsible for the relationship with the recognised colleges and with the Durham Students’ Union.

e) The Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Global) is responsible for the strategic leadership and implementation of the University's international agenda. She oversees development of the International Study Centre at Queen's Campus, Stockton-on-Tees; the development of strategic teaching and research partnerships with international peer institutions; the establishment of a Durham University presence in key global cities; work to increase research, study and work abroad opportunities for Durham undergraduates, postgraduates and research staff; and work to increase the percentage of students from outside the UK studying at Durham to around 35% by 2017.

f) The Chief Operating Officer is responsible to the Vice-Chancellor for the effective conduct of University business and has delegated, line management and planning responsibilities for the Professional Support Services (other than the Finance Directorate).

g) The Chief Financial Officer is responsible to the Vice-Chancellor for central Financial Services, Financial Strategy, Procurement, Treasury, Investment and has delegated budgetary, line management and planning responsibilities for the Finance Directorate.

Please click here to a diagram showing the members of the Senior Management Team.

UEC has principal responsibility for developing policy and strategy and ensuring effective implementation. UEC members will take cabinet responsibility for all decisions (deputies are not permitted) and work in partnership within and out-with formal meetings.

To ensure alignment of policy and financial decisions, policy papers are presented to UEC by the Chairs of the Education and Research Committees in advance of Senate to ensure that any financial or other consequences of implementing a policy are properly identified and considered by appropriate budget holders

4. UEC Advisory Groups

UEC has established a number of Advisory and Steering Groups to assist in managing key areas of responsibility and to which some decision-making is delegated, subject to report to UEC.

Further information regarding current UEC Advisory and Steering Groups can be found here.

5. Non-executive Deans

Non-executive Deans are senior academics (eg normally Professors who have served as Head of Department/College) appointed for a defined period of time to assist UEC by taking responsibility for leading and championing specific cross-cutting areas of strategy and policy; ensuring joined-up working across the University; and representing the University in their area of responsibility. They remain within their Department/College and do not have significant budgetary or managerial responsibility but develop strategy and policy for discussion and ultimate approval by UEC.

Non-executive Deans are not members of UEC but normally report to UEC through a Portfolio Pro-Vice-Chancellor, attending UEC when their area of responsibility is on the agenda. They may be supported by an advisory group.

There are currently 8 non-executive Deans, whose portfolios and reporting lines are as below:

  • Diversity and Equality (Claire Sutherland) - Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Education)
  • Environmental Sustainability (tbc) - Chief Operating Officer
  • Experience Durham (Peter Warburton) - Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Colleges and Student Experience)
  • Knowledge Exchange (Jon Gluyas) - Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research)
  • Dean and Deputy to the PVC Education (Tony Fawcett) - Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Education)
  • University Enterprise (tbc) - Deputy Vice-Chancellor & Provost

6. Deputy Heads of Faculty

Faculty Pro-Vice-Chancellors have significant strategic and management responsibilities and are supported by senior members of academic staff in their Faculty who assist them in specific portfolio areas. They are not Deputies for the Faculty Pro-Vice-Chancellor at UEC and do not have delegated authority in relation to HR, financial or strategic planning matters. Each Faculty will normally have a Deputy Head for Research, who is a member of the University Research Committee, and two Deputy Heads who chair the Faculty Education Committees (Undergraduate/ Postgraduate) and sit on the University Education Committee.

7. Heads of Department/College

Heads of Department/College have individual responsibility and accountability to their Faculty Pro-Vice-Chancellor for the budgets and resources (including space) allocated to them by their Pro-Vice-Chancellor. They also have responsibility for line-management and mentorship of staff in their Departments/Colleges. Heads of Department are not simply Department Chairs but have executive responsibility.

The Head of an academic department will normally also serve as Chair of the Board of Studies with responsibility for academic standards in research and teaching. He/she will normally be supported by a Director of Research, a Director of Learning and Teaching and a Department Administrator (who has responsibility to communicate and interact effectively with colleagues in the Professional Support Services on behalf of the Department).

A critical role for every Head of Department/College is communication, in both directions, between UEC (through their Pro-Vice-Chancellor) and staff in their Department/College.

Please click for lists of current Heads of Department and Heads of Colleges.

8. Heads of Professional Support Departments

The Heads of Professional Support Departments are responsible to the Chief Operating Officer (Registrar) for the budgets, space and facilities and staff allocated to them in delivering the University’s strategy.

Please click here to the current Departments and Heads.

9. Institute Directors

Institutes are not cost-centres (apart from small core resource to facilitate their activities) and all salaries, staff and research funding are managed through cognate Departments/Faculties. Institute Directors are some of our most outstanding academic leaders and are responsible to the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research) (and through Research Committee to Senate) for strategic planning and the delivery of internationally-leading research through the Institute.

The Research Committee is also responsible for recommending the establishment of new Institutes and for reviewing and, if necessary, winding down Institutes which are no longer at the international forefront of Research. Their other academic activities and research funding are line-managed by the relevant Head of Department as part of the Faculty budget.

Currently there are ten University Institutes and Directors:

  • Institute for Advanced Research Computing (Alan Real)
  • Institute of Advanced Study (Robert Barton) (Acting)
  • Biophysical Sciences Institute (John Girkin)
  • Institute of Computational Cosmology (Carlos Frenk)
  • Durham Energy Institute (Jon Gluyas)
  • Institute of Hazard, Risk and Resilience (Louise Bracken)
  • Institute for Medieval and Early Modern Studies (Stephen Taylor)
  • Institute of Particle Physics Phenomenology (Valya Khoze)
  • Wolfson Institute for Health and Wellbeing (Amanda Ellison)
  • Institute for Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies (Anoush Ehteshami)

Stuart Corbridge

Vice-Chancellor and Warden

updated 4/1/17