University Delegation Schedule

Scheme of Delegation and Key Decision-Making Authorities

1. Introduction

1.1 The purpose of the Scheme of Delegation (PDF, 187kB) and the associated Annex A (PDF, 69kB) is to identify the responsibilities and delegated authorities for making key decisions in the name of, or on behalf of, the University of Bristol. Particular emphasis is given to those decisions taken by, or delegated from, the University Board of Trustees, but detail of the responsibilities for other key decisions, in accordance with University statutes, ordinances and regulations, is also provided, with cross-reference to other relevant documentation where appropriate. Although such a scheme cannot be exhaustive, the intention is to provide clarity on the decision-making process and final authorities in relation to key strategic and policy matters whilst also providing a frame of reference to inform decision-making in other areas.

1.2 This scheme of delegation has been developed in accordance with guidance from the Committee of University Chairs (CUC), which recommends that "where permissible, the governing body may delegate authority or allocate some of its work to committees, grant delegated authority to the Chair or a committee to act on its behalf and delegate responsibility to the executive head and officers of the institution. Such delegations must be clearly defined in writing and be formally approved by the governing body. Having delegated authority to other bodies or individuals to act on its behalf, the governing body is nevertheless ultimately accountable and has to accept corporate responsibility for the actions taken."

1.3 The following documents may also be helpful when seeking further information on, and clarification of, the key responsibilities of Council, Senate and their committees:

1.4 Any queries regarding this document should be referred to the Governance team in the first instance.

2. Key Principles

2.1 Although this document has been prepared with careful reference to the University’s Charter, Statutes and Ordinances, it should be noted that the latter constitute the overriding authority, should there be any contradiction.

2.2 Where Council or any other primary authority have chosen to delegate the approval and execution of a decision or process, they must retain the ultimate accountability and corporate responsibility for that decision or process. They may choose to define financial or other limits for a particular delegated authority. Furthermore, they may choose to review and rescind such delegated authority at any time, unless it is specifically stipulated in statute or ordinance. This scheme seeks to outline the current scope of delegated responsibilities, until determined otherwise, and will be subject to regular review by Council on at least an annual basis.

2.3 As already noted, the purpose of the Scheme of Delegation is to provide clarification of key decision-making authorities together with a framework to inform decision-making in other areas, and cannot be exhaustive. This being the case, the expectation is that the final and delegated authorities specified in this document must exercise common sense and judgement in implementing the details of the decision-making process – for example, in deciding the precise consultation and approval route for a particular strategy or policy.

2.4 Unless the Charter, Statutes or Ordinances require Council to work with the Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor, Senate or other parties with regard to key decisions or processes, it should be assumed that Council reserves the right of authorisation in areas where it has ultimate authority.

2.5 Senate's powers are defined by Statute, and may be summarised as responsibility to Council for all aspects of the academic enterprise. Senate may delegate certain of its powers to faculty boards.  Senate also has a right to discuss and declare an opinion on any matter relating to the University, and Council shall take this into consideration.

2.6 The Vice-Chancellor is the academic leader and Chief Officer of the University and, by virtue of this appointment, has the power to make certain decisions on behalf of the University. With regard to academic matters, the Vice-Chancellor is the ex officio Chair of Senate and may therefore, where necessary for the good of the University, take decisions within the purview of Senate on its behalf (such decisions should be reported to the next meeting of Senate). With regard to financial matters, the Vice-Chancellor may authorise any recurrent expenditure from the University budget as approved by Council, as well as capital expenditure within agreed limits. Further details are specified in the schedule.

2.7 In the absence of a defined principal or delegated authority, or in the event of any uncertainty as to whom a decision or process should be delegated, a guiding principle should be to "delegate upwards". For example, the responsibilities of the Finance Director or Bursar can be undertaken by the Registrar; those of a Dean can be undertaken by a Pro Vice-Chancellor or the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, and those of the Registrar, Deputy Vice-Chancellor or a Pro Vice-Chancellor by the Vice-Chancellor.

2.8 Where delegated power exists, it is imperative that the Officer or senior manager to whom authority has been delegated ensures that appropriate frameworks and procedures are in place within their area of responsibility before delegating further. Furthermore, any further delegation of responsibility must also be subject to and informed by overarching standard University procedures for financial transactions and policy matters.

2.9 In the event of a major incident or crisis, it is recognised that decisions may need to be made by exception out with normal practices. A number of arrangements are in place to support such circumstances, including procedures for the use of vacation powers by the Vice-Chancellor, on behalf of Senate, and the Chair of Council, on behalf of Council, and allowance for further delegation of their responsibilities as stipulated in section 4.1 of the schedule. Use of vacation powers may include approval of temporary ordinances where required. Specific authorities and responsibilities in the event of a major incident or crisis are outlined in the University’s Incident and Crisis Management Framework.

3. Format of the Scheme

3.1 The main body of the scheme outlines decision-making authorities across the following three broad categories:

  • Authorities of/Stipulated by Council – elucidation of the primary responsibilities of Council as defined in Statute 17 and Ordinance 3, including details of any delegation of responsibilities determined by Council. These authorities are highlighted in green in the scheme.
  • Authorities Stipulated by Statute and Ordinance – other than responsibilities of Council covered above, other statutory and delegated decision-making authorities which are set out in the University’s Charter, Statutes and Ordinances and which cannot therefore be amended without Council, Court and/or Privy Council approval. These authorities are highlighted in red in the scheme.
  • Other Key Decision-Making Authorities – these are authorities and processes which, although not formally recorded in statute or ordinance, nor relating directly to the responsibilities of Council, are nonetheless key elements of the University’s decision-making structure and are included here as a useful source of reference. These authorities are highlighted in blue in the scheme.

3.2 The following definitions apply when reviewing the following scheme:

  • "Authority" – refers to derived or delegated power. In the case of delegated authority, this is the authorisation of another individual to act on the main authority’s behalf right through to the conclusion of the delegated decision or process, subject to any limits defined.
  • "Routed via" – applies to committees or individuals who have no formal authority, but have the right to comment, and for their comments to be taken into account, before a final decision is taken.
  • "Recommendation from" – applies to committees or individuals who do not have the final decision-making authority, but who nonetheless play a formal part in the approval process. Such committees or individuals recommend decisions or policies for final approval.
  • "Report to" - applies to committees or individuals who have no formal authority, but should be made aware of the matter in question either prior to or after a decision being taken, as appropriate.
  • "Responsibilities", where referred to in related sections of the Charter, Statutes or Ordinances, may include descriptions of the role, general duties of rights of the body or individual concerned (for example, the Responsibilities of the Chancellor as set out in Statute 4) rather than being an explicit statement of their specific responsibilities.

Kelly Dudley, Head of Governance
October 2012

Lucy Barling, Governance Officer
July 2013