University Court FAQs

The University of Derby is a Private Company Limited by Guarantee and it is also an exempt Charity. The responsibility for governance rests with the Governing Council. In terms of the Company, the governors are the Directors and Members of the Company.

The existence of the University Court is required by the University of Derby, Articles of Association. The University Court is a forum which brings external independent stakeholders, supporters and friends of the University, together with governors and senior managers of the University at meetings presided over by the Chancellor. The purpose of the meetings is to explore strategic issues through lively discussion in a critical but supportive atmosphere. The University Court is therefore a sounding board for the University.

The outcomes of the discussion are advisory and are expected to influence strategy and the implementation of strategy. All responsibilities and powers of governance rest entirely and absolutely with the Governing Council and all responsibilities for management rest with the Vice-Chancellor’s Executive.

Membership of the University Court is normally by invitation. The responsibility for approving membership lies with the Governing Council which is advised by the University Court Advisory Group.

There are two broad types of membership.

(i) Members who are nominated by their organisation by virtue of the position that they hold

(ii) Individuals who are invited to join the Court in recognition of their fine personal qualities, expertise and known interest in further and higher education

Candidates in the following categories should be considered. The details which follow are intended to be illustrative and not definitive.

  • Civic and political leadership to include Derby City and Derbyshire County councillors, Members of Parliament, Members of the European Parliament, The Lieutenancy and The High Sheriff
  • The Economic tier: representatives of major employers, normally the Chief Executive. This should also include such people as the County Chairman of the CBI and TUC
  • The Voluntary and Community Services particularly with reference to health and education. This category should include Headteachers, Principals, Faith Leaders and members of other universities. Priority should be given to the school and FE College partners of Compact arrangement which are true partnerships
  • The University: The members of the Vice‐Chancellor’s Executive, Emeritus Professors and honorary award holders. If the University wishes others to participate this should be effected by attendance rather than membership
  • Individuals of particular merit: Nominations Committee may wish to invite an individual who brings particular knowledge and enthusiasms. Former managers and organisational representatives could stay on as members in this category

Occasionally, the Nominations Committee will consider expressions of interest submitted by members of the public or recommendations submitted by current members of the University Court. All existing members will be asked if they wish to continue and there will be a systematic check of the membership every three years. Those who do not respond would be deleted from the membership list.

The University looks to members of the University Court for supportive advice in strategic matters which may relate to the academic direction of the University, the human and physical resources, financial considerations and other matters of profound importance.

Although the status of the Court is advisory, the views and suggestions put forward by members are greatly valued and influence the development of strategy. In order to assist members in this role, each meeting is centred on a presentation in which University managers, sometimes with the involvement of external members of Court, describe a major area of activity and identify the issues currently under consideration.

Members of the University Court are kept up-to-date with University news and developments.

Membership is voluntary and unpaid. However, reasonable expenses will be paid in respect of costs incurred in connection with activities specifically requested or agreed by the University.

Yes indeed, there are various ways in which members of the University Court may be able to gain a closer relationship with the University.

  1.  Members of the University Court who would like to participate in further work of the University Court are welcome to mention this interest to the Chancellor, Pro-Chancellor or Vice‐Chancellor. Members may be invited to join advisory groups or working groups established by Colleges or departments. These invitations will come from the Chair of the advisory or working group concerned.
  2. The University Court has established a University Court Advisory Group which meets at least once each year with the Chancellor, Pro‐Chancellor and Vice‐Chancellor to agree the agenda for the meetings of the following year.
  3. Members of University Court may like to assist in the joint presentation of strategic issues to the University Court by giving an external perspective based on their particular experience.
  4. Members of the University Court who find themselves attracted to working with the University and who feel that they have sufficient time may wish to consider applying for an appointment to the Governing Council. There are on average one or two vacancies each year. Consideration is through a process of competitive application and formal interview.

The University Court meets three times each year – spring, summer and autumn.

The programme of meetings for each year is determined by the University Court Advisory Group which meets annually in May. Suggestions for future meetings are welcome, please send your views to

The Advisory Group also considers possible improvements to the organisation of meetings.

The Chancellor is appointed by the Governing Council. The Chancellorship is an honorary position which is held for an indefinite period. The Chancellor presides at meetings of Court and at special events, such as the University Awards Ceremonies. In the absence of the Chancellor, the Pro‐Chancellor deputises and in the absence of both Chancellor and Pro Chancellor, arrangements are made for a senior external and independent member of the Governing Council to chair the proceedings.

The current Chancellor of the University is William Cavendish, Earl of Burlington. He was installed as the University’s fourth Chancellor in 2018.

The University’s previous Chancellors are:

  • Sir Christopher Ball (1996 to 2003) ‐ inaugural Chancellor of the University
  • Professor Leslie Wagner (2003 to 2008) – second Chancellor
  • The 12th Duke of Devonshire Peregrine Cavendish (2008 to 2018) – third Chancellor

Mr Stephen Smith is Pro‐Chancellor of the University and Chair of Governing Council. He took up this position in August 2018.

Membership is often only appropriate for as long as the individual occupies a particular office, in some instances where membership is offered on an individual basis then membership might be for an indefinite period.

Members of the Court are expected to engage with the work of the Court and attend the formal meetings of the Court. The University asks those whose circumstances change and do not permit regular attendance of the Court in future to let the University know and stand down. The University writes to all members approximately every three to four years to confirm that they wish to continue their role. Non-responses are taken to indicate that the member is unable to continue membership and wishes to stand down.  

Upon acceptance of an invitation to join University Court individuals are requested to provide a short biography for inclusion in the list of Members of University Court that is published on the website.

Members can request to update their details or remove their information by emailing or by completing our form with your new details or biography.

Hannah Hallam
Development & Alumni Relations Manager
07766 471253

Mrs Katherine Taylor
Governance Services Officer
01332 594191

Mrs June Hughes
Clerk to the Governing Council
01332 591154

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Membership of the University Court

The University Court is a group of like-minded, influential, experienced and passionate individuals, all of whom have the desire for the University of Derby to be successful.

Learn more about our University Court membersLearn more about our University Court members