Statutory Bodies and Committees

Definition of terms


Committees are a key part of the decision-making process of an organisation. They enable a group of informed individuals to meet, discuss issues, share information, achieve consensus, make collective decisions, or refer recommendations to a superior body.  Minutes form the official institutional record of the key decisions and discussions; they are read by a variety of people external to the Board/Committee.

Terms of reference

Terms of reference set out the purpose of the Committee, its powers, which superior (parent) Committee it reports to and if any sub-committees report to it.  See the relevant web pages for specific Committee terms of reference. These cannot be changed by the Committee itself, but only by the superior committee.


The composition of the Committee sets out who is a member of the Committee, and who is 'in attendance' (ie present but may not vote). The composition may also allow for 'co-opted' members who may have specialist knowledge and are normally appointed for a year at a time. The composition cannot be changed except by the superior Committee.


This is the minimum number of members of a committee needed in order to legitimately make decisions or take actions on items (normally a third for Senate and its sub-committees, including Boards of Studies, FLTQCs etc).  Sometimes the number is specified to include a particular type of representation: e.g., external examiners in Boards of Examiners for Programmes.

Standing orders

These are the rules governing the conduct of meetings. Not all Committees will have Standing Orders. If no specific Standing Orders exist for a Committee which ultimately reports to Senate, use those of Senate.