University of Southampton


The University is a corporation formed by Royal Charter and holds charitable status. Our aims, powers and the governance framework within which we operate are set out in our Charter, Statutes and Ordinances.

Governance of the University is overseen by the Council and the Senate. These bodies are responsible for approving our mission and strategy, monitoring our performance, scrutinising our finances and directing our academic functions.

The Vice-Chancellor and the Executive Group have overall responsibility for the day-to-day management of the University. 

Useful links

Quality Handbook

Our Quality Handbook is a single location where you can find the policies and processes which constitute the University's Quality, Monitoring and Enhancement (QME) framework.

The QME Framework and University Regulations have been designed to enable the University to meet sector expectations as articulated in the Quality Assurance Agency's UK Quality Code for Higher Education.

Visit the Quality Handbook website

Quick links to information in the Quality Handbook:

Charter, Statutes and Ordinances

Our constitution is set out in the Charter, Statutes and Ordinances. These are the overarching governance documents that outline the University's aims, structure, responsibilities and powers. They include principles and rules for the membership and role of the Council, Senate, and their committees. They also include high-level rules for various University functions such as the appointment of senior staff, admissions, examinations and the awarding of qualifications. More detailed rules about these and other functions are set out in the University's regulations

The University Council

The Council guides the University's overall strategic direction and is ultimately responsible for its finances, buildings and staff. It approves all major developments and receives regular reports from the Vice-Chancellor and Executive Management Team. It also presents audited financial statements each year.

The Council is made up of 18 members:

  • Chair
  • Vice-Chair
  • Treasurer
  • Vice-Chancellor and Provost
  • Deputy Vice-Chancellor
  • eight external members appointed by the Council
  • three academic members appointed by the Senate
  • one member of non-teaching staff
  • one representative of the Students' Union (usually the President)

The University holds charity status and the Council members are also the charity trustees. 

Details of the Council's powers and membership are set out in the University's Statutes.

The Senate

The Senate is the University's main academic authority. Its role is to oversee the direction and regulation of education and examinations, the awarding of degrees and the promotion of research. 

It has around 150 members, including:

  • the Pro Vice-Chancellor
  • the faculty deans and associate deans
  • heads of the academic units and research centres
  • academic and research staff
  • representatives of the Students' Union

The Senate is chaired by the Vice-Chancellor and the Registrar is its secretary.

Find out more about the Senate

The confirmed, unrestricted/non-confidential minutes of Senate meetings are publicly available and copies can be obtained here.

 Committees of the Council and Senate

The Council and Senate have a number of committees. The committees hold delegated responsibility for decision-making or consultation in specific areas.

Committees of Council Committees of Senate 
Standing Committee of Council University Programme Committee
Nominations Committee External Research Degrees Committee
Senior Salaries Committee Military Education Committee
Audit Committee Senate Appeals Committee
Health and Safety Audit and Assurance Committee Student Discipline Committee
Safety and Occupational Health Committee  
Consultative Committee for Safety and Occupational Health  
Genetic Modification and Biosafety Committee  
University Ethics Committee  

Download PDFs of the terms of reference of the Council and Senate committees.

Useful downloads
The University's Chancellor

Dame Helen Alexander. One of the duties of the Court is to formally appoint the Chancellor

The University's Chancellor

Our Student Charter

Find out about our Student Charter, which sets out what you can expect from the University and how we aim to work together to maintain our unique culture

Find out more

Governance resources
  • The University Calendar contains information about the duties, roles and membership of our governance bodies and committees.

  • The University Almanac lists significant University dates including Council, Senate and Committee meetings.