About the General Council

Overview

The General Council was established by the Universities (Scotland) Act 1858 and consists of graduates and certain academic staff. If you are a graduate of the University of Aberdeen you automatically become a member of the General Council.

Constitutional Basis & Power

The constitutional basis and powers of the General Council are set out in the Universities (Scotland) Act 1966 Members of the General Council have the right to:

  • Review and comment to the University Court on all questions affecting the well-being and prosperity of the University;
  • Elect the University's Chancellor;
  • Elect four General Council Assessors to serve on the University Court;
  • Elect 21 members of the Business Committee, which manages the affairs of the General Council.

The Council is empowered "to take into consideration all questions affecting the well-being and prosperity of the University, and to make representations from time to time on such questions to the University Court, who shall consider the same, and return to the Council their deliverance thereon".

Further detail is available in this PDF extract from the Act.

The Standing Orders of the General Council can be viewed here

Composition

Membership of General Council is defined by Ordinance 110. The General Council of the University of Aberdeen comprises:

  • all graduates of the University;
  • the Chancellor of the University during tenure of office;
  • all present and past professors and members of the University Court;
  • readers and lecturers who have been in office for more than one year;
  • former readers and lecturers who were members of the Council during their tenure of office and who continued in the employment of the University until retirement.

General Council Assessors

General Council Members of Court (General Council Assessors) are elected by the General Council. Only members of the General Council can stand for election. No one holding an appointment in the University or who is a matriculated student of the University can be elected as a General Council Assessor. The term for a General Council Assessor is four years (per Ordinance 143). This can be reduced (but not increased) at the time of election.

The Chancellor

The Chancellor is the titular Head of the University and President of the General Council.

Duties of the Chancellor include:

  • Ceremonial – for example at graduations, receptions and events
  • Pastoral- a concern for the interests of students and staff and the wider University community
  • Scholarly – a commitment to learning, teaching and culture
  • Ambassadorial – representing the University in the UK and overseas

The Chancellor’s most public role is conferring degrees at University ceremonies. Degree ceremonies are held twice a year, in July and November. Chancellors are appointed by the General Council under Ordinance No. 143 and the office may be held for life. The Chancellor is an ex officio member of the University of Aberdeen Development Trust.