The Court's principal role is to oversee the management of the revenue, property and other resources of the University. It approves the mission and strategic vision of the University, and has a number of corporate and legal responsibilities.

Staff Election to Court

Voting in the election for an academic staff member of Court and in the election for a non-academic staff member of Court closed on Friday 15 September at 12 noon. The results of the elections are:

  • Academic Staff Member of Court: Dr Martin Mills, Senior Lecturer in Anthropology, is elected.
  • Non-Academic Staff Member of Court: Mrs Jenny Fernandes, Head of International Office, Student Recruitment and Admissions is elected.

Turnout was 40% in the academic staff member election and 36% in the non-academic staff election. You can read the full results of both elections here: ERS Election Report

Both candidates will commence their appointment on Court with immediate effect for a period to 31 July 2020.

Martin and Jenny’s respective election statements are available below.

Candidates for the Academic Staff Member on Court
Dr Allan J Sim
I see the fundamental purpose of the University Court being to ensure the fair and transparent governance of the university. Just as in any organisation where agents are employed to run it separately from its "owners" good governance promotes confidence within the community of the University of Aberdeen that appropriate safeguards are in place. Since the governance of universities incorporates principles and practices related to internal and external relationships, decision-making, accountability and integrity must be established in the internal framework within which the university operates so as to ensure that both internal and external factors are treated. I consider that I can make a contribution to this governance for a number of reasons. The first is my experience working within the University of Aberdeen both as an academic and non-academic member of staff. My experience representing the Business School in the Senate of the University of Aberdeen. As a Senior Lecturer in the Business School my knowledge of HRM and of Business Ethics and Corporate Responsibility. I consider the latter to be of particular relevance as one of the aims of good governance must be to create an environment where we ask ourselves "what is the right thing to do?" Making choices and having to account for those choices in an open and transparent way encourages honest consideration of the choices made and their impact within and without the University of Aberdeen.
Dr Andrew Dilley
A strong constructive staff voice on Court is critical to our collective future. I believe I can offer that voice. I am currently a Senior Lecturer in DHP. In 2008 I joined the University in early career and have thrived since as a teacher and as a researcher. It is a pathway that must be open to all if our institution is to succeed. Aberdeen is exceptional for the ease with which connections are forged across disciplines. I have built networks across the institution through participation in Sixth Century Courses, and cross-disciplinary postgraduate initiatives (RPAS, ‘The North’). I currently sit on the Friends of the Library Committee. From 2015 I have served as Deputy Head of School (DHP) and Head of History, and Academic Line Manager (from 2016), fostering initiatives to tackle non-continuation, reform teaching and develop online Masters. Thus I would bring to Court experience of School-level management, the level at which broader initiatives must crystallise into practical action. Our internal goals must articulate with the external environment. Between 2013 and 2015 I led HistoryUK, a national subject body, leading lobbying on the REF, especially Open Access Publishing. Between 2012 and 2014 I served as Impact Lead for History/History of Art, overseeing a REF submission ranked second in the UK. Finally, I have represented DHP on Senate between 2012 and 2015, and through that have already contributed to broader institutional governance. Drawing on these experiences, I believe I can make a positive contribution to our University on Court. 
Professor Siladitya Bhattacharya
I am committed to an academic environment where everyone feels valued and supported in their mission to deliver the best student experience alongside world class research. I have been an employee of the University of Aberdeen for 25 years in a variety of roles in which have required determination, sensitivity, and significant negotiation skills to accomplish complex organisational changes. Throughout my career I have consistently demonstrated my commitment to academic excellence, staff development and a collaborative approach towards a shared vision. I am very approachable, willing to listen and able to gain the trust of individuals from different backgrounds and perspectives. As an experienced academic I am aware of the challenges faced by the University of Aberdeen in negotiating the changing landscape of Higher Education. I fully understand the importance of maintaining financial viability whilst maximising academic and societal impact. My roles as a clinician, teacher, researcher and manager have helped me to develop a strategic approach towards academic challenges, a capacity to make impartial evidence based decisions and a commitment to treat people with respect and compassion.
Professor Andy Porter

I have made a 26 year, career long commitment to the University and City of Aberdeen.  I arrived a “green” post-doc excited to join the DNA revolution and am currently Professor of Biotechnology and Director of the Scottish Biologics Facility (proteins to treat disease).  In 2005 I became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.  However, I wouldn’t describe myself as a typical ivory tower academic as I have always worked closely with industry and have established, bought and sold businesses and sit on the Board of three successful Aberdeen biotechs (NovaBiotics, Elasmogen, Antoxis).  I was also fortunate to receive the UK Ernst and Young, Technology Entrepreneur of the Year award. 

Away from the University, I helped establish with engineering and law graduates, two award winning businesses (Monkey Bars Aberdeen Ltd; Langstane Liquor Ltd) that have a head count now of 50.  I am also a member of the Opportunity North East (Life Sciences) Board securing (and spending) the hard-won City deal cash to drive innovation and a more diversified industry base in the City and Shire. 

I strongly believe that my background of solid academic foundations, commercial experience and entrepreneurial flair is an ideal combination for Court.  Whilst I am undeniably a life scientist at heart, I have the sector breadth, together with the necessary corporate governance and financial experience, to bring my judgement, advice, networks and challenge to the “big” questions faced by a University that is looking to grow and thrive in an increasingly competitive world.

Dr Martin A Mills

I have worked at the University for seventeen years and consider it my home: a community of dedicated and hardworking colleagues, and one of potential greatness. By profession, I am a research-active senior lecturer in anthropology, a Tibetan specialist, and director of the Scottish Centre for Himalayan Research; outside the University, I am parliamentary secretary to the Cross-Party Group on Tibet at Holyrood.

During my time at Aberdeen, I have represented both the School of Divinity, History and Philosophy, and for the School of Social Science as elected senator. Two years ago, Tim Ingold and I inaugurated the Reclaim Movement, designed to reclaim the reality of a university whose defining goal is the pursuit and dissemination of knowledge to the benefit of both the community and world within which we live. To achieve that goal in practice, we have successfully revised the regulations and practices of the University Senate to make it a more active and accountable force within the University. Last year, along with the heads of the two unions, I led successful negotiations to re-write the terms and conditions of all staff, based on a more equitable, professional and productive vision of academic work and scholarly ownership.

If elected to Court, my primary objective would be to improve campus life at both Kings and Foresterhill in a way that supports the life of the university both financially and in morale terms, without at the same time interfering with the academic work to which we are all committed.

Dr Syrithe Pugh

I shall always welcome and respond to your questions and views. Please see my staff-page for my contact-details, profile and biography. If elected, I shall:

  • provide a voice for staff's concerns and experiences, and promote more vigorous debate on decisions affecting our working lives, such as staffing reductions, workload increases, and 'transnational education' plans;
  • urge the university to live up to its ideals as a public institution, which provides higher education and research as a public good, and whose duty to act in an ethical, socially responsible, sustainable and accountable manner does not cease when it engages in a competitive market-place;
  • seek to ensure important data (eg findings of 2016 Thomson Reuters due diligence report re. human rights implications of Qatar project; results of 2014 Staff Satisfaction Survey) are always brought before Court for scrutiny and discussion, so it can make informed decisions, rather than merely rubber-stamping decisions made by Senior Management and the smaller, unelected Operating Board;
  • resist current pressure on Court from Senior Management to devolve more of its powers and duties to Operating Board, urging it instead to address concerns raised in the Good Governance lnstitute's recent review that UoA Court already places 'too much reliance' on Operating Board, resulting in too little questioning and 'detailed engagement with important strategic matters by Court as a whole';
  • urge Court to support Scottish government's ongoing efforts to reform and regulate the governance of Scottish universities, rather than resisting its calls for commitment to increased democratization, transparency, equality and diversity.
Professor Michelle A Pinard

The change to the composition of the University Court is meant, in part, to make university governance more open, transparent and inclusive. Through the two elected positions for staff, we can support the development of the governance of our institution so that it better reflects our priorities.

As academics we share a strong commitment to our mission, a desire to work collaboratively and to maintain a healthy work-life balance. The challenges facing the institution are many and difficult. For example, the potential impacts of Brexit on our student population are huge. The persistent focus on metrics as a measure of quality (e.g., TEF, REF and the FAE), distracts us from the measures and drivers of quality that we recognize. The continual reduction in the funding of HE in Scotland is pushing us in directions that challenge us to reflect on our values, ethics and role in the world. We are a talented and creative community and I believe that we can address these challenges if we work together.

I have worked at the university as an academic for more than 20 years. During that time I have accumulated broad experience with the university's core activities through practice, committee work and management. Decisions taken by Court are crucial to the University's future. It is important for the academic voice on Court to be well informed, forward thinking and active in constructive debate and discussion. If elected, I am confident I could deliver that voice.

Candidates for the Non-Academic Staff Member on Court
Mr Dave MacDonald

I would like to be involved in meeting the long-term, changing needs of the University and its community. I believe I have experience and skills which would benefit the Court, and would consider it a great privilege to serve as a Court Member.

If appointed, I would perform my role with enthusiasm and integrity, bringing energy and determination to the task of representing the views of non-academic staff.

Since arriving at the University in 2012, I have worked in Estates, initially as a clerk of works, and more recently as manager of the clerk of works team. In this role, I have worked to ensure that we are continually delivering high quality services, and to guarantee continued provision of services to meet the needs of the University community. I have also worked to improve dialogue between colleagues by setting up meetings to allow information to be shared on a regular basis, recognising the key role that communication plays in maintaining good working relationships and achieving agreed outcomes.

As well as being a member of staff, I have a personal connection to the University through my eldest daughter, who is a recent graduate. My University and personal experiences have enabled me to develop expertise in working with the public and with service providers, as well as an ability to engage with people and understand their viewpoints. I am professional, an excellent networker, a good communicator, and enthusiastic in taking on new challenges to bring benefit to the wider University community. 

Mrs Arlene Ray
I'm pleased that non-academic staff are being welcomed to Court, giving a voice to the loyal, dedicated and essential support staff. Helping to develop the best way forward for the University, balancing business needs against valuing and developing all staff while delivering the best possible student experience is of the utmost importance to me. I have experienced this University as a school leaver, a mature student, an undergrad, a postgrad and even as sabbatical president of Student Charities, in both Foresterhill and Old Aberdeen. I am now a member of staff, engaging with many University areas and representing the University in National forums. I have been in my current role as Manager of the Suttie Centre for over 8 years and have developed this into a wide variety of areas making best use of my skills as a law graduate including complaints and appeals and governance but also utilising my softer skills developing a structured programme of wellbeing activities at Foresterhill and running a wide variety of public engagement events. I have also experienced the world outside an education institution -working for corporates, the public sector and running my own business for over 25 years. I'm methodical and rational but also opinionated and determined. I care passionately about our University which has been integral to my life -our research helped me through cancer, our education shaped my career and I even found my husband here! I would be delighted to be given the opportunity to help shape our future.
Mr Tristan Wolfe

I joined the University at the beginning of September 2015 as Energy Manager in Estates. Within this role I ensure that energy is utilised efficiently and manage a utilities budget in excess of £5m.

Additionally I am responsible for carbon compliance and management, energy and sustainability awareness, identification and design of energy efficiency. To that end, I am deeply involved in a side of the University that in my view is under represented and which is not routinely considered in the day-to-day decision making and direction of the University.

In my time at the University I have made significant inroads into reducing the environmental impact of the University's operations. I am keen to ensure that the University continues this commitment and to ensure that these issues are represented at the highest level of institutional governance.

I believe that with my common sense approach to sustainability, aligned with a strong moral compass and willingness to drive agendas forwards, I would be an asset to the Court and the University's planning. My aim would be to provide a different perspective and seek to emphasise areas where sustainability issues can and should inform decision making.

From a personal perspective, this role would undoubtedly benefit my personal development and permit me to learn more about how the University works. This is also a chance to place greater emphasis on a broad set of institutional values and how, operationally and strategically, we tackle the major challenges facing society in the 21st century.

Mr Euan Crabb
Over the 28 years of working for Local Authorities and now the University of Aberdeen, I have always taken a very keen interest and active role in the running of the services I was involved in. I have been part of a service review team for Angus Council looking at the overall service and quality of delivery of that service. I was both the local and national union representative for the service and worked with senior management to take forward any issues that colleagues raised. I have a good understanding of the importance of the central management of organisations and institutions and believe that by being an active member, I can help to raise awareness of views shared by others. I realise that this is an important opportunity for the views of non-academic members of staff to be part of the central decision making mechanism within the University and believe the skills I have from previous roles makes me a suitable candidate for nomination.
Mr Owen Cox

Dear Constituency

My Name is Owen Cox and I am interested in standing for the Non Academic Staff member's seat on the University court.

I have worked for the University since 2004 and currently work for Estates Security.

I currently hold the position of Unison Branch Secretary and through this role; I am already involved in many University committees including the Policy review group, the Partnership Negotiating Consultative Committee, the Joint Consultative Committee for Redundancy Avoidance, the Employee Engagement group and many more.

Being up to speed with so much of what is going on already at the university, provides the ideal platform for me to hit the ground running, if I were fortunate enough to be elected to court.

There will be changes in the coming years, as Aberdeen University faces the economic and legislative challenges that all universities are facing in the education sector.

However, it is not all doom and gloom and with high degrees of planning and foresight, the University can meet these challenges head on and grow into one of the most successful in the country, which should provide a degree of job security.

A lot of big decisions will be made in the University court and this is why it is important that you elect a representative that is already conversant with all the business likely to be discussed in the court process and will also make the right decisions for both the University and the staff that work there.

Many Thanks
Owen Cox

Mr Nick Edwards

As a former student and AUSA Sabbatical Officer, I feel that my experience of life here at the University sets me up very well for this exciting role on Court.

Representing others is something I have done in various capacities, notably: during my term as President for Welfare & Equal Opportunities in 2008/09; in my former working life as a Solicitor in Edinburgh; and as a volunteer legal advisor with an LGBTQ+ charity.

Being able to represent collective views in a structured and passionate way is something I believe my past has set me up for well. I certainly hope that I’m an approachable face for staff to raise comments, questions or concerns on any issues they face and this interaction is an element of the role I would greatly enjoy were I elected.

While not the Court setting I’m used to, I feel my time as a student, Sabb and now staff member has given me a passion for the University and in ensuring the best experience for our students and staff.

Working within Academic Affairs gives me a great overview of the functions our Professional Services and Support Staff perform across the whole institution and I would be thrilled to represent their views as a member of Court. Such representation is ever more important given the unpredictable political climate in the UK and the various changes happening at the University and in the wider HE sector.

Mr Alexander Mathers

I started working for the University as a Porter/Security at Hillhead and Johnston Halls for 1 year then moved departments to Estates security as a security officer working from Kings. I continued as a security officer for 2 years then gained promotion to Deputy Supervisor and 2 years later I became a Supervisor which I have been for the last 12 years.

I have worked closely with all departments within the University during my 17 years in my role in security. I previously worked as an Infantry soldier in the 1st Battalion Scots Guards and have had the honour of taking part in the Trooping of the colour (Queens Birthday parade) and also changing of the guard. I have also been a part of the Army cadet force for the past 18 years training and mentoring children from the age of 12 to 18 giving them life skills and confidence and discipline. It would be a great honour if I was successful to represent Non-academic staff in the University court and would represent them well.

Mr Derek Dawson

I seek your vote to become a staff member on court because I believe that I can provide a strong voice to those engaged in non-academic work to ensure we remain valued and our interests are central to strategy and decision making.

After graduating, I spent thirteen years working as a self-employed IT consultant in many different industries and locations before life events brought about a change in direction. I joined IT Services in 2009 as a "techie" and now manage 14 staff in the Server Infrastructure team. I, therefore, have direct experience of providing a front line service to university colleagues.

In addition to my "day job" I am a chair of the Aberdeen branch of the University and College Union. I am part of the team that negotiates with senior management on terms and conditions of all Grade 5+ staff (not just union members). I also provide personal casework support to members facing individual issues. This means that I have experience of representing staff, a unique insight and an understanding of court paperwork and the University's finances. If elected to court then I will obviously use my skills and experience to represent non-academic staff in a comprehensive way.

Whilst change is inevitable, I am concerned about plans for restructuring and the potential for job losses over the next three years. I want to ensure that change is well managed and the impact on non-academic staff carefully considered.

Ms Caroline Burnett
I believe that I am a suitable candidate for the role of non-academic staff member on Court as I would ensure actions taken and decisions made by Court are fair and impartial and in the best interests of the University and its entire community and staff. I have been employed by the University since March 2010 and currently work as Office Manager within the Health Services Research Unit, which is part of the School of Medicine, Medical Sciences and Nutrition, and I am based at Foresterhill. One aspect of my job is the leadership of a large team of support staff, and as such I am acutely aware of how important concise and open communication is, and I would translate this to the Court role. I also understand the significance of having clear guidelines and processes to adhere to in the workplace, and would do my level best to ensure that these continue to be fit for purpose. My appointment would also go some way to redressing the current gender imbalance by adding a female to Court membership.
Mrs Jenny Fernandes

I am an alumna of the University of Aberdeen and have worked as Head of its International Office for the past 14 years.  My role is a key ambassador for the University and I have had the privilege to represent Aberdeen across the world, work with the Scottish Government, national embassies and Chair the Scottish Universities International Group.  I am continually energised and proud as I speak to our partners, prospective and former students, and hear first-hand of their experiences and what it means to them to be part of the Aberdeen family.  We can make such a positive difference to the individuals that work and study with us.

We need to be ambitious as an institution, and Professional Services is central to institutional success.  Professional Services needs a strong voice within our governing body as we face the challenge of an uncertain political and financial environment, in part due to the impact of Brexit.  At such a time we need to think creatively, and strong governance will be fundamental to our long term prosperity.  As a member of Court, I will engage with Professional Services staff and ensure our combined strengths and the challenges we face are recognised and understood in order that we focus on how we can collectively galvanise our efforts to support the University’s ambitions.

My experience within international higher education and my continued commitment to the University, make me well placed to provide Professional Services with that voice and influence on the University Court.

Mr Colin Philip

I feel as part of the Maintenance Team at Bedford Road that I could bring valuable cost saving ideas, which have already been discussed between our Team. These ideas have been implemented in some cases and have already saved valuable spending costs and I wish with our Team and the Court would like to take it further.

I worked as a contractor to this site for 3yrs (Richard Irwin) before joining the University 2½yrs ago, so I have an insight on how contractors work.

Further Information on Staff Elections to Court

Election of Staff Members to the University Court
Information for Staff and Candidates

The composition of the Court, the University’s governing body, is changing and from later this year will include two positions for members of staff elected by staff – one for academic colleagues and one for non-academic colleagues. This is a new opportunity for staff to bring their perspective to influence how the University is governed at the highest level. As the University is a charity and the Court is considered the board of charitable trustees, it is also an opportunity to gain experience as a charity trustee.

The following information is provided as guidance on how staff can put themselves forward for election 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. Staff who wish to submit a nomination should, however, ensure they have read the nomination and election rules before submitting the nomination form. Nominations close on Friday 28 July at 12 noon.

What is the role of Court?

The Court is the University’s governing body and is responsible for setting the University’s strategy and ensuring its financial sustainability. Its business regularly includes considering key issues such as budgets, staffing policy, estates and capital projects, the institution’s academic and business plans, monitoring performance against strategic targets, and ensuring the University meets the interests of stakeholders, including students, staff, alumni, local and national communities and funding bodies.

What is the role of a Court member?

Each member of Court is a governor of the University and a charitable trustee, who is responsible collectively with all members for ensuring the Court meets its responsibilities as mentioned above. The role of a Court member is:

  • To ensure that the University’s finances are well managed and its long-term financial viability;
  • To oversee the academic, corporate, financial, estate and human resource functions that are delegated to the Principal and Senior Management Team;
  • To ensure that Court conducts itself in accordance with accepted standards of behaviour in public life;
  • To offer constructive challenge and support to the Senior Management Team;
  • To act fairly and impartially in the interests of the University as a whole using independent judgement and maintaining confidentiality as appropriate.

You can read more about the role of the Court and the role of a Court member here

What is the time commitment?

The expected time commitment is around ten days per year. This includes attendance and preparation time for four meetings of the Court each year. Members of Court may, with their agreement, serve on sub-committees of the Court and this would be in addition to the ten days.

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 and support staff).

All candidates must be employed members of staff as at 28 July 2017 and may stand only in the category of staff of which they are a member eg academic staff may only stand for the academic staff position. Zero hours, temporary services and honorary staff are not eligible to stand or vote in the elections. If you are unsure about which category you are eligible to stand or vote in please contact

The Court is committed to ensuring its membership reflects the diversity of the University’s community and, in particular, to addressing the current gender imbalance in its membership and increasing the number of female members of Court. In support of this and the Court’s wider commitment to diversity in its membership, members of staff at all levels and from all backgrounds are encouraged to consider this opportunity to join the Court.

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

Nominations close on Friday 28 July at 12 noon and are made through the nomination form or by request to

Potential candidates should read the form and the nomination rules (see above). The form needs to be signed by the candidate, a proposer and a seconder who must both be members of the same staff constituency eg professional services and support staff may only be a proposer and seconder for candidates for the election of to the non-academic staff position. Electronic copies of a completed and signed nomination form will be accepted by the closing date but a hard copy must be provided within 7 days of the close of the nomination period.

All nominees are required to confirm that they have read the nomination and election rules and that they are not disqualified from serving as a charitable trustee under Scottish Charities Law. If you need to check this, guidance is available in the nomination form and at:

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 “first past the post system”. If the number of nominations exceeds the number of vacancies, a ballot of the relevant staff constituency will be held. Candidates can if they wish provide an election statement of 250 words and a photograph which will be made available to the electorate when voting opens.

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 on Friday 25 August to noon on Friday 15 September. Staff eligible to vote must have been in post as at 28 July 2017.

Where a member of staff is unable to vote electronically, the University will offer alternative arrangements to ensure they can cast their vote.

How long is the appointment for?

The period of office of is three years to 31 July 2020 and is expected to begin on 1 October 2017. This is, however, subject to approval by the Privy Council of the new composition of Court and might change. In future elections it is expected that the normal start date for the term of office will be 1 August 2017.

Members elected will be able to be nominated for re-election, subject to a limit of three periods of office of three years whether served continuously or not, but would not be able to return to serve on Court in another position after that maximum of period of office for a period of three years.

What if I leave the University or change role?

If you cease to be an employee of the University you will also cease to be eligible to stand or vote in the election. If you are elected to Court but then cease to be an employee you would also cease to be a member of Court and a new election for the vacancy would be required.

If your employment classification changes from “academic” to “non-academic” (or vice versa) for the purposes of the election you would cease to be eligible to stand or vote in that category of election but would be eligible to stand in the other category as applicable. If you are already elected to Court, you would cease to be a member of Court in that capacity and a new election for the vacancy would be required.

Further Information

Further information on the role of being a member of Court and the nominations/election process is available from Bruce Purdon, Clerk to the Court, or



A detailed remit for the Court does not exist. The various Acts of Parliament conferring powers and responsibilities on the Court do not set out specific duties in a comprehensive way, although most of the legislation relevant to the University is contained in a single text, The Acts, Ordinances and Resolutions of the University of Aberdeen, 1858-1990, which may be consulted on application to the Clerk to the Court.)

The main functions of the Court are set out in its Statement of Primary Responsibilities. These can be summarised, however, as:

  • To approve the mission and strategic vision of the University, including institutional and longer-term academic and business plans, and key performance indicators, and to ensure that they meet the interests of stakeholders, including students, staff, alumni, local and national communities and funding bodies.

Some powers of the Court are exercised by making an Ordinance or approving a Resolution.

The University (Scotland) Act 1966 sets out the regulations by which the University Court has powers to make new Ordinances/Resolutions or amend existing Ordinances/Resolutions. In each case, consultation with the Senate, General Council and the wider public (by means of public notice of the draft Ordinance or Resolution on the University website for eight weeks for an Ordinance or four weeks for a Resolution) is required. Draft Ordinances or Resolutions for comment are published on the separate tab above on this page.

The Court of the University will then consider any comments received at a meeting after the stipulated period has expired. The University will then seek approval of the final version of the Ordinance from the Privy Council. A Resolution can take effect as soon as it is approved by the Court following the required consultation; an Ordinance can take effect only from the date on which it is passed by Her Majesty in Council.

Legally, the University Court is a body corporate, with perpetual succession and a common seal.

Defintions of Court Terms

  • As a body corporate, the Court is recognised in law as owning a legal personality separate and distinct from the personality of its members, and hence as capable of owning property, entering into contracts, employing staff, and suing and being sued.
  • Perpetual succession signifies the Court's power to appoint its own members (subject to statute) without further reference to any external authority.
  • The Common Seal represents the Court's authority to secure or guarantee its undertakings. The University Seal, together with signatures of Court members continues to be used to endorse formal legal documents on behalf of the University.
  • An Ordinance is a further definition or stipulation of existing powers, as prescribed by Acts of Parliament - for example, amendment of the composition of Court, Senate, etc. This requires the consent of the Privy Council.
  • A Resolution represents the elucidation of a power which is within the Court's own competence to enact - for example, the creation of a new Chair.
Composition & Membership


The composition of the Court numbers 25 members and is formally set out in Ordinance 145, approved by Her Majesty in Council on 19 July 2017. It may be summarised as: the Rector, the Principal, the Senior Governor, one person elected by academic staff, one person nominated by non-academic staff, one person nominated by a trade union from among the academic staff, one person nominated by a trade union from among the support staff, four assessors elected by the Senate, two students nominated by the Students’ Association, and twelve independent members appointed by the Court (who may not be members or staff or students) of whom at least four will be members of the General Council.

For further information on the formal composition of Court see: Ordinance No 145

While members of the Court are drawn from different "constituencies" no member of the Court is present as a "representative" of any particular sectional interest. Mandates are not recognised but, of course, each member brings his or her particular background and expertise to the work of the Court. All members are equal and free to express an opinion or cast a vote in the best interest of the institution as a whole.

Membership of the Court

Further details of the Court membership are available here: Court Membership

Members of Court may be contacted via the Clerk to Court

Further information on the Skills Register of Court Members is available here: Skills Register 2017

Governor Role Description

Experience and attributes 

The Court is made up of 28 governors, of whom ten are executives of the University or members of Senate. It is important to ensure that across this membership there is a wide range of skills and experience.

 However, the key attributes required of members are:

  • Significant experience of leadership and management at a senior level in either the public or private sector, preferably gained over a number of years’   service across a range of large and complex organisations;
  • An ability to evaluate and monitor the performance of the University in a constructively critical manner, whilst mindful of the boundary between governance and management;
  • A commitment to the highest standards of governance;
  • The ability and the courage to exercise independent judgement;
  • A commitment to furthering the values of higher education and the mission of the University of Aberdeen in particular.  


Each governor is responsible, collectively with all members of Court, for the strategic leadership and governance of the University. That translates into more specific responsibilities of which the following are key:

  • 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 selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership. Members must at all times regulate their personal conduct as members of the Court in accordance with these standards;
  • To establish constructive and supportive but challenging 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.

Governors may also be asked to serve on Committees of Court or University and complaints and appeals panels by mutual agreement, and to play a role in liaising between key stakeholders and the University and in fund raising.

Governor roles are unremunerated but expenses are paid. Directors and Officers Liability Insurance is in place.

Agenda & Minutes

Court Minutes, Agenda and Papers

It should be noted that minutes will be published after they have been approved at the following Court meeting and are therefore not liable to be amended. Whilst it wishes to make minutes as widely available as possible, the University is concerned not to inhibit discussion at its committees, and therefore occasionally minutes may have sections removed (redacted) for reasons of confidentiality. In these instances, a note will be inserted indicating that the minute has been edited on the grounds of confidentiality.

We regret that minutes prior to September 1998 are not currently available online. If you wish to see minutes before September 1998 then please contact the Clerk in the first instance on 01224 272093.

The Court agenda is made available here following the meeting of Court to which it relates. Court papers (redacted where confidentiality restrictions apply) are made available here and in the Library for public consultation following the meeting to which they relate or on request to the Clerk to Court.

Clerk of the Court: Mr Bruce Purdon
Telephone: 01224 273949
Fax: 01224 273984

Minutes of Meeting

All documents are in PDF format



Draft Ordinances & Resolutions


Notice of Ordinances and Resolutions for Comment

There are no Ordinances or Resolutions available for comment.

Draft Ordinances and Resolutions recently closed for comment

The following draft Ordinances or Resolutions have recently closed for comment.






Approved Ordinances and Resolutions

The following draft Ordinances or Resolutions have recently been approved.

Resolution 286 [Tenth Amendment to Schedule A to University Court Ordinance No.111 [Election of Readers and Lecturers to the Senatus Academicus]