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Standing orders of Senate

The standard operating procedures explain the conduct and responsibilities of Senate and its committees.


These Standing Orders set out how the Senate and its Committees conduct their business and discharge their obligations. They apply to Senate and all its Committees, sub-committees and other groups, unless the context provides otherwise.

The role and responsibilities of the Senate are set out in University Statute 19 (functions of the Senate) and Ordinance 8.

1. Chair

1.1 Statute 18.2 specifies that the Vice-Chancellor is Chair of Senate.

1.2 In the absence of the Vice-Chancellor, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor shall take the chair of Senate.

1.3 In the absence of the Vice-Chancellor and the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, the Secretary must arrange a vote to elect a member of Senate to take the chair of Senate for the duration of the current meeting (see decision-making, below).

1.4 The Chair is obliged to take all decisions in accordance with the University Charter, Statutes and Ordinances, Senate Standing Orders and the law of the land. Within that context, the Chair's ruling on procedure is final.

1.5 Within the context set out in 1.4 above, the Chair's discretionary ruling on procedure can be reversed if two thirds of the members present and voting support a motion to this effect.

2. Membership, regular attendees and officers

2.1 Members of Senate and its committees are elected or appointed in accordance with the provisions of University Statute 18 (The Senate) and Ordinance 8 and the Senate Parental Leave Policy.

2.2 Any member who resigns during their term of office should submit their resignation in writing to the Secretary, in accordance with the provisions of Ordinance 8.11(e).

2.3 Senate members should abide by the principle of collective responsibility, exercising the functions of Senate in the best interests of the University as a whole, though they may bring their individual experiences and expertise to bear in doing so.

2.4 Senate has the power to authorise the regular attendance of other individuals by virtue of their knowledge and experience, or in the capacity of observer.

2.5 Regular attendees receive papers, attend meetings and participate in discussions but do not have the right to vote.

2.6 The regular attendance of individuals at Senate shall be reviewed on an annual basis at the start of each academic year.

2.7 One-off attendance at all or part of a Senate meeting for anyone other than Senate members, officers and regular attendees is by invitation only, subject to the approval of the Chair.

2.8 The Head of Governance acts as Secretary to Senate (the Secretary) and is supported in that function by other members of staff in the Governance Office. These officers are not members of Senate.

3. Quorum and attendance

3.1 Statute 28.1(iv) specifies that there shall be a quorum when one-third of the membership is present. Officers and those attending do not count towards the quorum. It is the responsibility of the Secretary to ensure that a quorum is present throughout the meeting.

3.2 A meeting may proceed without a quorum, but, in the absence of a quorum, no formal decisions may be taken. Any decisions taken whilst a meeting is inquorate are invalid. In the event that a quorum is absent, the Chair may postpone the meeting to a future date.

3.3 If it appears that a meeting has become inquorate, any member of Senate may challenge the quorum. The quorum may be challenged twice in any meeting; thereafter any such challenge is out of order.

3.4 Senate members should make every endeavour to attend all meetings of Senate. When they are unable to attend a meeting, their apologies should be submitted in advance to the Secretary together with any comments on the agenda so that these may be shared at the meeting.

3.5 Where any ex-officio member is unable to attend any meeting of Senate or its committees, they may nominate an alternate to attend in their place. The nominee assumes the full membership rights of the ex-officio member. No other category of Senate member may nominate an alternate.

3.6 Attendance statistics will be reported to Senate on an annual basis.

3.7 The failure of a Senate member to attend any meetings of Senate or its committees for a period of six months will result in their automatic removal from Senate, unless mitigating circumstances have been approved by the Chair.

4. Meetings

4.1 The Senate shall hold a minimum of five ordinary meetings per year, the dates for which are approved on an annual basis and published before the start of the academic year.

4.2 Special meetings of Senate to dispose of any urgent and unforeseen business that cannot wait until the next ordinary meeting can be convened at the discretion of the Chair, or on the formal signed request of a minimum of a third of Senate members, addressed to the Secretary. The Secretary must issue a notice of meeting within 48 hours of receipt of such a request, and must issue an agenda and papers a minimum of 48 hours before the meeting takes place.

4.3 Special meetings must take place no sooner than 48 hours and no later than 14 days after notice of the meeting has been issued to Senate by the Secretary.

4.4 The Chair has the power to adjourn a meeting temporarily, or to another date. Their reasons for doing so must be notified to Council and recorded in the minutes.

5. Virtual meetings and remote attendance

5.1 Where circumstances do not permit Senate or its committees to meet in person, a virtual meeting may be convened. Such meetings are subject to all the provisions set out in these Standing Orders.

5.2 For all meetings convened in person, exceptionally and at the Chair's discretion, a Senate member may attend virtually, providing that sufficient notice has been given to allow appropriate arrangements to be put in place. A Senate member attending in a virtual capacity will be deemed to have attended the meeting, will be counted in the quorum, and can vote. However, the minutes will record the nature of their attendance.

6. Agenda and supporting papers

6.1 The Secretary compiles the agenda for all meetings of Senate in conjunction with the Chair, consulting the Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Pro-Chancellors as appropriate.

6.2 The Secretary must issue a formal notice of an ordinary Senate meeting, along with an agenda and papers, no later than seven days before the date of the meeting.

6.3 Senate is "digital by default". All circulations will therefore be in accessible electronic format, unless a request for a paper copy of a meeting paper is submitted to the Governance Office no later than 14 days before the date of the relevant meeting, or 48 hours in advance of the relevant special meeting.

6.4 At each ordinary meeting, Senate will consider a draft list of business for the next meeting.

6.5 Until 14 days before the meeting, any Senate member may submit items for the agenda, which should be accompanied by a supporting paper. The Chair has discretion over the inclusion of proposed items of business on the agenda, though must advise Senate of the basis for any decision for inclusion or rejection.

6.6 Meeting papers must be submitted to the Secretary no later than 10 days before the date of an ordinary meeting of Senate. Authors of papers should follow guidance for the preparation of Senate papers, including by seeking advice on the content of papers at an early stage in the process, and by ensuring that they have sought the relevant approvals prior to submission. The Secretary can provide advice on these matters if required.

6.7 No business can be considered at a special meeting except that which gives rise to the meeting and is specified within the notice of meeting issued by the Secretary. All other matters must be retained for consideration at the next ordinary meeting of Senate.

7. Confidentiality

7.1 Senate operates on the principle of transparency, unless there is a good reason to impose confidentiality. These reasons include those set out in Statute 28.2(iii) but may also include reasons of commercial confidentiality.

7.2 The majority of confidential business shall be considered within the reserved business section of the Senate agenda. It is the responsibility of the Secretary to ensure that any confidential business considered elsewhere on the agenda is clearly marked as "confidential".

7.3 Senate members must not disclose any confidential business to anyone. They are personally responsible for ensuring the secure storage and disposal of all confidential Senate documents, including all those within the reserved business section of the agenda, whether in electronic or paper form.

8. Declarations of Interest

8.1 The proper conduct of the business of the University requires that members of Senate and its committees should both act and be perceived to act impartially, and not be influenced in their role by any personal, social or business relationship.

8.2 Every Senate member must make a full declaration of interests at the start of each academic year and must take responsibility for updating their declaration throughout the academic year, as appropriate.

8.3 A central register of interests must be maintained by the Governance Office and published on the website.

8.4 Senate members should decline to participate in any committee where there is a possibility that a conflict of interest will arise on a regular basis.

8.5 A Senate member with any direct or indirect personal or financial interest, whether actual or perceived, in any matter under discussion by Senate must declare that interest to the Chair at the earliest opportunity, either before or during the meeting. Such interests may include decisions which have an impact on the terms and conditions of employment of a member of Senate. All declarations of interest must be recorded in the minutes by the Secretary.

8.6 By default, Senate members with an interest in a particular item of business should withdraw whilst that item is under consideration. Exceptionally, at the discretion of the Chair, they may remain to participate in the discussion but not to vote. A member who has temporarily withdrawn from a meeting continues to count towards the quorum.

8.7 In the event of a decision taken by correspondence (see decision-making), Senate members with an interest in a particular item of business must declare their interest and must not be counted amongst the responses.

9. Conduct of meetings

9.1 Business will be taken in three sections: i) substantive business; ii) items for decision without debate; and iii) items to note. Items to note can be taken for discussion, at the Chair's discretion, provided that a request is submitted in writing to the Secretary at least 24 hours before the meeting.

9.2 The order for consideration can be varied, and items of business deferred to a future meeting, with the consent of the Chair.

9.3 Items can be taken without notice under "Any Other Business" at the discretion of the Chair.

9.4 Senate should proceed by consensus wherever possible, resorting to formal procedural mechanisms only when all other solutions have been exhausted.

9.5 The Chair has discretion to accept or reject for debate a formal motion, or an amendment to a formal motion, moved by a Senate member and seconded by another Senate member, and to determine the order in which amendments and motions are taken. Proceedings on any amendments must be completed before any decision is taken on the substantive motion [as amended]. Where there is more than one motion, the motion under consideration must be disposed of before proceedings on any subsequent motions are embarked upon. Motions and amendments may be withdrawn by the proposer with the approval of the seconder.

9.6 Formal motions may include motions to adjourn or postpone the meeting; to defer the item under consideration until a future time or date; to close the debate; or to refer an item of business back to the committee which submitted it to Senate for consideration.

9.7 Members may raise a point of order on a perceived breach of Standing Orders; University Charter; Statutes and Ordinances, or statute or common law, and are entitled to be heard immediately on that point. The ruling of the Chair on points of order is final. Matters raised on a point of order take precedence over all other matters under discussion.

10. Decision-making

10.1 Decisions should normally be made on the basis of consensus. A formal vote can be held where the Chair deems it appropriate, or if formally requested by a Senate member and seconded by another Senate member.

10.2 Formal voting normally takes place by show of hands, with the Secretary acting as teller. In exceptional circumstances, voting shall be by secret ballot if one third of the members present and voting request it.

10.3 Only Senate members can vote, unless they are precluded from doing so by a conflict of interest.

10.4 Voting is normally by simple majority of those present and voting with the Chair making a casting vote in the event of a tie.

10.5 The Secretary must record the number of votes cast for and against any proposition, and the number of abstentions, in the minutes of the meeting.

10.6 In exceptional cases, if an urgent decision of Senate or one of its committees is required between meetings, a decision can be taken electronically providing that all members have been consulted, and a minimum of one third of the membership have voted; including the Chair. The Secretary is responsible for the conduct of any decisions taken by correspondence, including keeping accurate records, ensuring anyone with a declarable interest does not vote, and reporting the decision to the subsequent meeting.

10.7 Under exceptional circumstances, and where there is insufficient time for a decision to be taken by electronic correspondence, an urgent decision can be taken between meetings by the Chair. The Secretary is responsible for the conduct of any decisions taken in this way, including keeping accurate records of both the decision and the reason why this procedure was used, and for reporting the decision to the subsequent meeting.

10.8 The Chair may exercise their delegated authority, as set out in the Senate Scheme of Delegation, to take decisions between meetings without consultation.

11. Minutes

11.1 The Secretary is responsible for the recording of the minutes of proceedings of all formal meetings of Senate and its committees.

11.2 Minutes must be approved by the Chair before being circulated to Senate or the relevant committee. The minutes of a Senate committee must be circulated to that committee before being reported to Senate.

11.3 Any member wishing to amend the minutes should notify the Secretary at least 24 hours in advance of the meeting at which they are due to be confirmed.

11.4 The minutes must then be approved [as amended] at the subsequent meeting as a true and accurate record and signed by the Chair at the end of the academic year.

11.5 Unconfirmed minutes of non-reserved business are published on the University's website as soon as practicable after they have been approved by the Chair, with redactions made under criteria set out in the Senate minutes: publication framework, which his also published on the Senate website.

11.6 Minutes of reserved business are not published on the website, but any resolutions made under reserved business, and the papers which accompanied them, may be disclosed in strict confidence by the Secretary to anyone who requires the information. A record must be kept by the Secretary of all information disclosed under this provision and reported to Senate at the subsequent meeting.

12. Senate committees and joint committees with Council

12.1 Senate may appoint such standing and ad-hoc committees and working groups for such purposes and with such powers as it sees fit and may appoint persons who are not Senate members to them as appropriate. The term of office of any Senate member on a Senate or joint committee will normally be three years, subject to any exceptions set out in the committee's terms of reference. Senate shall prescribe the maximum duration of any ad-hoc committees and working groups it establishes, a period which will not normally exceed two years.

12.2 Any vacancy for a Senate member on a Senate committee or joint committee subject to election will be filled by means of an election which will normally be held in the semester prior to the commencement of the relevant term of office, once the membership of Senate for the coming academic year has been determined.

12.3 All those persons who will serve on Senate during the first year for which the appointments are made are eligible to vote in the elections.

12.4 The Secretary must declare all vacancies by means of notice in electronic format to all those eligible to vote. That notice must include a deadline for the receipt of nominations and should be accompanied by a schedule of membership of all relevant committees.

12.5 Nominations must be submitted in electronic format and must be confirmed by both a proposer and a seconder, who must both be eligible to vote. The nomination must include a short statement from the candidate expressing their willingness to serve if elected and outlining the reasons for their interest in serving on that particular committee.

12.6 A nominee will be elected unopposed if no further nominations are received for the vacancy in question. In the event that no nominations are received, the Vice-Chancellor will exercise their delegated authority to make an appointment.

12.7 The Secretary shall conduct the election electronically. Each elector has a single vote for each vacancy. The candidate with the highest number of votes shall be declared elected. In the event of a tie, the outcome shall be determined by drawing of lots.

12.8 Any vacancy for a Senate member on a Senate committee or joint committee subject to appointment will be filled by the Vice-Chancellor in exercise of their delegated authority.

12.9 The delegation of powers to Senate committees is set out in the Senate Scheme of Delegation. Any further delegation, to the sub-committee of any Senate committee, or to its Chair, is subject to the approval by Senate of an amendment to the Scheme of Delegation.

12.10 No decision taken by a Senate committee under its delegated authority can be reversed or amended by Senate unless queried as being outside its Terms of Reference or the Senate Scheme of Delegation. Senate can, however, issue guidance to a committee in the exercise of its authority or can refer a matter back to a committee for further consideration.

12.11 The functioning and terms of membership of Senate committees is set out in their Terms of Reference, which it is the responsibility of the Secretary to publish on the website. Any alteration to the Terms of Reference should be submitted to Senate for approval.

12.12 Any committee of Senate may set up sub-committees within its own Terms of Reference. The Terms of Reference, delegated powers and membership of such sub-committees are subject to the approval of the parent committee.

12.13 Where the chair of a committee or sub-committee is not a member of the parent body, they shall receive the papers of the parent body.

12.14 All members of Senate should expect to sit on at least one Senate committee and joint committee as a condition of their membership.

13. Procedure for the election of Senate representatives to serve on Council

13.1 Academic staff membership of Council is provided for in Statute 16 and Ordinance 7.

13.2 When the membership of Senate for the following session is known, the Secretary shall circulate a notice inviting candidacies for election.

13.3 Candidates must be both nominated and seconded but can self-nominate. They should submit to the Secretary a short election statement.

13.4 All members who will be serving members of Senate during the first year for which the appointment to Council is made are eligible to vote.

13.5 Voting takes place under a single transferable vote system, with each voting member ranking candidates in order of preference.

13.6 The Secretary shall specify the deadline for the receipt of votes, which shall be counted under the direction of the Secretary.

13.7 Candidates meeting or exceeding the quota are elected. The quota is calculated as (total votes cast / total number of vacancies +1) + 1. Excess votes are transferred to each voter’s next choice as indicated on the ballot paper. Candidates meeting or exceeding the quota in this second round are then elected. If no candidate meets the quota in the second round, the candidate with the least votes is eliminated and their votes are redistributed to their voters’ next extant preference. This process continues until all the vacancies have been filled.

14. Standing Orders

14.1 Amendments to Standing Orders can be made by a simple majority of Senate members present and voting.

14.2 Amendments to Standing Orders do not take effect until the conclusion of the meeting at which the decision to amend them was taken.

14.3 Any one or more of these Standing Orders may be suspended at any meeting in relation to specific, named business of that meeting, on the agreement of a simple majority of members present and voting.

14.4 The Standing Orders should be ratified by Senate at its first ordinary meeting of each new academic year.

Version information

Owner: Senate
Version number:
Approval Date: 21 October 2009, 17 June 2020, 6 April 2022, 8 June 2022 and 19 April 2023
Approved By: Senate
Date of last review: 6 October 2021

(Revision of Standing Order 20 with effect from 1 August 2012)
(Revision of Standing Order 28(ii) with effect from 1 June 2015)
(Revision of Standing Orders 8, 9, 10, 24, 29 with effect from 1 August 2017)
(Revision of Standing Order 8 with effect from 29 October 2020)


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