General Council

General Council

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

The Business Committee has the responsibility of representing the General Council to the University Court and Senate.

The President of the General Council is the The Chancellor of the University.

Business Committee Election

Nominations to become a member of the Business Committee of the General Council are now open, closing at 12pm on Friday 05 August 2022. Members can join committee meetings virtually and there is no requirement to be in Aberdeen to participate.

To find out more about the committee please click here.

Please click here to access the nomination form. Please ensure all forms are returned to Nicole Cochrane at by 12pm on Friday 05 August 2022.


If you have a question about the General Council and the Business Committee, or would like further information, please use our get in touch form.

The General Council
c/o Alumni Relations Office
University of Aberdeen
Powis Gate
College Bounds
Aberdeen, AB24 3UG

Tel: +44 (0)1224-273234
Fax: +44 (0)1224-272271


Statutory Meeting Dates and Minutes

The 316th Statutory Meeting of the General Council was held on Saturday 11 June 2022 at 11am. This was a hybrid meeting. 

A recording of the 316th Statutory Meeting can be viewed here. 

The speaker slides can be viewed here.








The Role of Chancellor

The role of Chancellor is primarily ceremonial, at graduation ceremonies, and to act externally as an ambassador for the University.

The most public role is in conferring degrees at University ceremonies. Degree ceremonies are held twice a year, in July and November. The Chancellor is also entitled to preside at the two statutory meetings a year of the General Council and is an ex officio member of the University of Aberdeen Development Trust.

The Chancellor appoints a Vice-Chancellor, a position which by convention, is held by the same person who is the University Principal. The Chancellor also appoints a Chancellor’s Assessor to represent him or her on the University Court.

See People for information about the University Chancellor and other officers.


What is the General Council?
If you are a graduate of the University of Aberdeen, you are automatically a member of the General Council. Also entitled to membership are the Chancellor, members of University Court, Professors, Readers and Lecturers, and former holders of these titles and positions. This is further explained in Ordinance No 110.

General Council Members
According to Ordinance No 110 of the University’s Court, the membership of the General Council of the University of Aberdeen shall consist of:

  1. all persons on whom the University has conferred an academic degree and whose names have been duly recorded;
  2. during their tenure of office:
    1. the Chancellor of the University;
    2. the members of the University Court;
    3. the Professors of the University;
    4. all Readers and Lecturers in the University, who have held any such office in the University for a period of one year;
  3. former Professors and former members of the University Court;
  4. former Readers and Lecturers who were members during their tenure of office as such, and who remained on the staff of the University, as Readers or Lecturers, until retirement.


What is the University Court?
The main functions of the Court can be broadly summarised as follows:

  • to administer the whole property and revenues of the University
  • to make appointments
  • to fix fees charged by the University
  • to receive representations and reports from the Senate and the General Council
  • on the recommendation of the Senate, to prescribe regulations for degree courses
  • to review on appeal any decision of the Senate

Further information on the University Court is available here.

When does the General Council meet?
There are two statutory meetings of the General Council each year, in December and May.

What is the role of 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.

How can I get involved?
If you would like to take a more active role in the General Council, you can stand for election to the Business Committee.

What does the Business Committee do?
The Business Committee meets four times a year and comprises 21 elected members, plus two ex-officio members. The Committee has a duty of dialogue with the University Court on all matters relating to the well-being of the University.

If you would like to become a member of the Business Committee, email

Who is on the Business Committee?
A list of current members is available here.

How do I get elected to the Business Committee?
Members of General Council can stand for nomination and election to the Committee as and when vacancies arise. Notices of vacancies are given in at the Statutory Meeting of the General Council, in the E-Zine and on these pages. Nomination forms are available by contacting

Constitution of the University

Before the union of 1860, each of the two Universities was governed by its chancellor supported by the principal, the rector, and the Senatus Academicus or Senate.

The Universities (Scotland) Act of 1858 instituted two new administrative bodies, the University Court and the General Council (or assembly of graduates). The Court consisted of the rector (elected by the matriculated students), the principal, and four assessors nominated one each by the chancellor, the rector, the Senate, and the General Council; the Court was given authority to review all decisions of the Senate, and to appoint members of the teaching programmes and its responsibility for discipline and for administering University property and revenues, subject to the control of the Court.

The Universities (Scotland) Act of 1889 enlarged the membership of the Court to 14 by including the Lord Provost of Aberdeen and an assessor nominated by the Town Council, and by increasing from one each to four each the assessors nominated by the Senate and the General Council. The administration of University property and revenues was transferred from the Senate to the Court. The powers of the General Council were enlarged, and the Student's Representative Council was established.

The Universities (Scotland) Act of 1966 further enlarged the membership of the Court and of the Senate by making provision for the inclusion of a number of members of the non-professorial staff.

In 1975 the Lord Provost of Aberdeen and an assessor nominated by the Town Council were replaced by two assessors, one nominated by the District Council of the City of Aberdeen and one by the Grampian Regional Council. Further changes were made to the composition of the Court, Senate and faculties as a result of the Report in 1977 of the Committee on Internal Academic Government.