2023 Nomination and Election of Staff Members to the University Court

2023 Nomination and Election of Staff Members to the University Court

The composition of the Court, the University’s governing body, includes two positions for staff members who are elected by staff every three years – one by academic colleagues and one by non-academic colleagues. This page provides information on how staff can put themselves forward to be a candidate and on who can vote in the two elections. It also provides information on the role of Court and what being a member of Court involves.

Watch the videos below for some insights from current staff member Owen Cox on why he became a member of Court and Senior Governor Julie Ashworth on what it entails.


Staff who wish to submit a nomination should ensure they have read the nomination and election rules before submitting the nomination form. Nominations close at 5pm on Tuesday 13 June 2023. Elections if required are expected to be held, online, from Thursday 29 June to Thursday 6 July. 

Both positions are tenable from 1 November 2023 for a period to 31 July 2026.


What’s involved and why should I stand?

This is a great opportunity for staff, from all levels, to make a difference to how the University is governed and to help ensure that staff voices are heard at the highest level in the University. It also offers the individual the chance personally and professionally to gain valuable experience of working at board level as a charity trustee including:

  • the knowledge that you are contributing to the success of the University;
  • gaining experience of committee work;
  • acquiring strategic knowledge and insight into the work of the University and its wider operating environment;
  • acquiring new skills – personal and professional – through training and information and sharing; and
  • the enjoyment to be had from working with a group of individuals from different backgrounds who share a similar passion for the work of the University.
What is the role of Court?

Court is the University’s governing body. It guides the University’s strategic direction and is responsible for ensuring its finances are healthy and that Senate is effectively managing academic issues.  Its business regularly includes key issues such as budgets, staffing policy, estates and capital projects, academic plans, monitoring performance against strategic targets, the student experience, and ensuring the University fulfils its obligations to all its stakeholders – students, staff, alumni, the local and national community, and funding bodies.

You can read more about the role of Court here.

What is the role of a Court member?

Each member of Court is a governor of the University who is responsible collectively with all members for ensuring the Court meets its responsibilities as mentioned above.

The role of a member of Court is:

  • To play an appropriate part in furthering the values of higher education and the mission of the University of Aberdeen in particular;
  • To ensure that the Court exercises efficient and effective use of the resources of the University, maintains its long-term financial viability, and safeguards its assets, and that proper mechanisms exist to ensure financial control and for the prevention of fraud;
  • To exercise oversight in respect of the academic, corporate, financial, estate and human resource functions delegated to the authority of the Principal as chief executive;
  • To ensure that Court conducts itself in accordance with accepted standards of behaviour in public life, embracing duty, selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability and stewardship, openness, honesty, leadership and respect. Members must at all times regulate their personal conduct as members of the Court in accordance with these standards;
  • To establish constructive and supportive working relationships with the University employees with whom they come into contact, whilst recognising the proper separation between governance and executive management;
  • To act fairly and impartially in the interests of the University as a whole using independent judgement and maintaining confidentiality as appropriate.
What is the time commitment?

Members of Court are expected to attend meetings of Court (normally five a year) and to read papers in advance of meetings. The expected time commitment is around 15-17 days per year, normally including membership of at least one of the Court’s sub-committees. Induction and training support will be provided.

Who is eligible to stand for election?

There will be two vacancies for staff members to be elected to Court:

  • one vacancy for a member of academic staff elected by academic staff (being academic, teaching and research staff);
  • one vacancy for a member of non-academic staff elected by non-academic staff (being professional services staff).

The Court is committed to ensuring its membership better reflects the diversity of the University community and members of staff at all levels and from all backgrounds are encouraged to consider this opportunity to join the Court. There are, however, some criteria on who can stand which are:

  • All candidates must be staff who are employed on a salaried contract as at Tuesday 13th June 2023. Candidates may stand only in the category of staff of which they are a member, “e.g” academic staff may only stand for election to the academic staff member position. Candidates must also be proposed and seconded by staff who are members of the same constituency as the one they are standing in.
  • Staff on maternity or paternity leave are entitled to stand for election as are those absent from work due to ill health, subject to meeting the wider eligibility criteria detailed here and in the nomination form.
  • Guaranteed hours, temporary services and honorary staff are, however, not eligible to stand or vote in the elections.
  • While not excluded from standing in the election, members of staff who are in a senior management role (examples being roles such as Head of School, Vice-Principal, Dean, Director or Deputy Director, or equivalent) are asked to consider that it could be challenging to manage the conflict between their current role and that of the staff elected member of Court

If you are unsure about which category you are eligible to stand in please contact: staffelections@abdn.ac.uk.

How do I stand for election and when do nominations close?

If you are interested in standing as a candidate please read the further information on eligibility and complete the nomination form that is available here by 5pm Tuesday 13 June by e-mail to staffelections@abdn.ac.uk.

Candidates must be proposed and seconded by staff who are members of the same constituency (and in a salaried contract of employment as at the close of the nominations period) as the one the candidate is contesting e.g. professional services staff may only be a proposer and seconder for candidates for the election of the non-academic staff position.

Candidates can if they wish provide an election statement of 500 words and a photograph (in PNG or JPG format) which will be made available to the electorate before voting opens.

How will the election be conducted?

There will be two separate elections: one for each of the two positions and these will be carried out through electronic voting through the “alternative vote system”. If the number of nominations exceeds the number of vacancies, a ballot of the relevant staff constituency will be held by e-mail/online. Staff cannot vote in both elections - the academic staff member will be elected be a ballot of academic colleagues and the non-academic staff member by a ballot of their non-academic colleagues. 

Where only one nomination is received for a vacancy, that candidate will declared to be duly elected and no ballot will issued.

If an election is required, voting is expected to open Thursday 29 June and close on Thursday 6 July at 12 noon. Staff eligible to vote must have been in post as at Tuesday 13th June 2023. Staff on maternity or paternity leave are entitled to stand for election as are those absent from work due to ill health, subject to meeting the wider eligibility criteria.

If an election for either of the two positions is required, further information will be communicated and made available here closer to the time.

Further information

For any further information please contact staffelections@abdn.ac.uk.