The role of Committee Chair is vital in ensuring that the operation of individual Committees, and by extension the University's governance structure as a whole, is effective and efficient. In order to ensure that this happens, it is vitally important that both the Chair and the Secretary of Committees are conversant with the Committees role and responsibilities.
- Details of the membership, terms of reference, reporting structure and secretariats of all University Committees are available on the A-Z section of the Governance website.
- Some members will be ex officio i.e. members by virtue of their substantive role. Others will be appointed by other committees, departments or faculties. Other individuals may be 'in attendance' (in order to provide expertise or advice) but are not a member of the Committee and therefore, in the case of a vote, would not be able to participate.
- As a general rule, members who are not able to attend a particular meeting of the Committee should not send someone else. However, if there is a specific and valid reason, the Chair of the Committee may decide to permit this. In the case of a vote, they would not be allowed to participate. Work is ongoing to establish Vice-Chairs who may deputise for the Chair in certain circumstances.
- At the first meeting of each academic year, your Committee is expected to review its Terms of Reference. This item for consideration is not always given the attention that it should, and you should ensure, even if members have served on the Committee for some time, that the Committee gives it appropriate consideration. In order for your Committee to effectively carry out its business, all members and the secretariat should have a clear understanding of the extent and boundaries of the Committee's authorities. What decisions is your Committee expected to make? What is it responsible for? What is it consulted on? The Chair of the Committee should ensure that this agenda item is treated as a discussion item rather than simply an item for approval.
- At the final meeting of the academic year, Committees should revisit their Terms of Reference in the context of their initial consideration, and reflect on whether the business of the year has been suitably aligned with the Terms of Reference. Has the Committee been fulfilling its brief effectively? If not, is it because the Terms of Reference are outdated or on longer relevant, or were there other reasons? By considering this at its last meeting, the Chair and Secretary will be able to feed any potential changes in Terms of Reference or membership into the first meeting of the following academic year.
- The Committee should be aware of what authorities it has been delegated and, conversely, what authorities have been delegated to it. The Statement of Delegated Authorities summarises delegations of authority made by the Council and the Senate.
- Meeting dates, times and venues are available on the Committee Timetable. These are arranged on an annual basis in advance of the academic year, and Secretaries are responsible for confirming with Chairs that they are available on the proposed dates.