University Court

Governance at QMU

The Court is the governing body of Queen Margaret University, established by the Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh (Scotland) Order of Council 2007 which came into force on 1 April 2007.

The University is a company limited by guarantee (Company Number SC007335) and a charity (Scottish Charity No. SC002750) registered with the Office for Scottish Charities (OSCR). Court members are consequently Directors and also Charitable Trustees.

The Court is responsible for carrying out the objectives of the University, ensuring the financial sustainability of the University and approving the strategic plan.

The Court is supported by a number of committees including the Finance & Estates Committee, Audit and Risk Committee, Nominations Committee and Senior Management Remuneration Committee. The Health and Safety Committee and the Equality and Diversity Committee also report to Court.

The Court delegates responsibility to the Senate for the academic work of the University and the conferring of degrees and other awards. Operational management is delegated to the University’s senior management team under the leadership of the Principal and Vice Chancellor.

An important aspect of the Court’s work is establishing and monitoring systems of control and accountability, including financial control, and reviewing the performance of the University. The Court approves the mission and strategic vision of the University, its long-term business plans, key performance indicators (KPIs) and annual budgets, and ensures that these meet the needs of stakeholders.

The Court also appoints the Principal of the University and has in place arrangements for monitoring his performance.

Appointment of Lay Court Members: Current Vacancies


The University Court, which is the University’s governing body, is looking to appoint up to two new independent (Lay) members to start this autumn. 

In appointing to vacancies we are looking to rebalance and, in some areas, enhance the Court in terms of membership skills and experience; and in terms of member diversity, to better reflect the communities that the university serves.

We recognise the value that diversity of perspectives and lived experiences brings to Court, and therefore would welcome and encourage applications from people who identify as Black, Asian or from a Minority Ethnic background, and to preserve gender balance on the Court in accordance with the Gender Representation on Public Boards (Scotland) Act 2018, we would welcome and encourage applications from women.

We are particularly interested to hear from individuals who can bring expertise and/or experience in the following areas: Health and Health Policy; Higher Education; and Human Resources.

Further information about the role of Court members and the application process can be found in the Supplementary Information document.

Equality and Diversity Monitoring Form

Applications are invited by Sunday, 7 July 2024.

QMU's board apprenticeship scheme (GIVE)

The GIVE scheme is a route to board membership for QMU alumni.

If you are a graduate of QMU, think you might have something to offer the University’s governing body, but currently lack the board experience or confidence you need to join it, the GIVE scheme could be for you.

We are currently accepting applications from people interested in participating in the scheme in the 2024/2025 academic year (closing date is 1 July 2024).

Please see the GIVE scheme webpage for further information.

Appointment of the Chair of the University Court

Pamela Woodburn took up the role of Chair of the University Court on 1 April 2021, having been elected to the role by an electorate made up of the University’s students, staff and Court members, and following a competitive application and interview process.

Pamela has worked in senior leadership roles in both strategic and operational roles in non-executive and executive positions. During her varied career, she has held high ranking positions in a number of sectors including in economic development, housing and international development, as well as in both further and higher education.

With significant governance experience gained over the last 20 years, Pamela was a member of the Court of Edinburgh Napier University – five years of which she served as Vice Chair.

Outside education, Pamela has chaired the board of a major housing organisation and has worked to support social enterprise and charitable organisations. Earlier in her career she was Senior Director of the government agency, Scottish Enterprise, and held a number of strategic and operational roles.

Aligning with Queen Margaret University’s specialisms, throughout her career Pamela has supported Scottish companies in key industries such as tourism, food and drink, creative industries and financial services. She has also developed programmes for Business Gateway and has a passion for nutrition, health and wellbeing, as well as supporting entrepreneurship.

Public Announcement of Election Outcome

Role Specification and Appointment Particulars

Court Members

For information on our Court members, see our Court web page

The Court is comprised of:

  • between 11 and 15 lay members who bring with them skills and experience of value to the University;
  • the Principal and Deputy Principal;
  • three staff members, two of whom are elected by staff, one who is appointed by Senate; 
  • two members nominated by trade unions recognised by the University (from 1 October 2019); and
  • two members nominated by the University’s Students’ Union.

Members hold office for a fixed term, normally 3 years (but members may serve a second 3-year term), and they exercise their responsibilities in the interests of the University as a whole rather than as a representative of any constituency. They agree to abide by the University Court’s Code of Conduct and must complete a Register of Interests form annually.

Court members commit to conducting themselves in accordance with the Nine Principles of Public Life in Scotland: Selflessness, Integrity, Objectivity, Accountability, Openness, Honesty, Leadership, Public Service, and Respect.

Court Meetings

The Court meets at least five times a year and the business of each meeting is recorded in the Court Minutes.

Agendas and Minutes can be viewed on the Court Meetings webpage. 

Court Members Handbook

This Handbook is a guide for members of the Queen Margaret University Court which provides members with an overview of the key aspects of the University and the University Court relevant to their role as a member of the University Court.

Court Members Handbook

Appendix 1 - QMU Strategic Plan

Appendix 2i - QMU Order of Council, 2ii 2015 Amendment and 2iii 2019 Amendment

Appendix 3 - Current Senior Leadership Team

Appendix 4 - Terms of Reference and Composition of Court Standing Committees

Appendix 5 - Terms of Reference and Composition of Senate and Senate Standing Committees

Appendix 6 - Financial Memorandum between QMU and SFC

Appendix 7i - Ministerial Letter of Guidance

Appendix 7ii - Ministerial Letter of Guidance on Outcome Agreement

Appendix 8 - The Nine Principles of Conduct in Public Life in Scotland

Appendix 9 - The Code of Conduct for Court of QMU

Appendix 10 - Guidance for Charity Trustees - OSCR

Appendix 11 - Court Standing Orders - October 2019

Appendix 12 - QMU Court Delegated Authorisation Schedule

Appendix 13 - Scottish Code of Good Higher Education Governance

Appendix 14 - CUC HE Code of Governance 2020

Appendix 15 - QMU Articles of Association

Appendix 16 - UK Corporate Governance Code - 2018

Appendix 17 - QMU Risk Management Strategy

Appendix 18 - Role Descriptions of Members of Queen Margaret University Court

Appendix 19 - Standard Appointment Letter for Lay Members of Court

Appendix 20 - QMU Court Statement of Primary Responsibilities

Appendix 21 - Court Effectiveness Review 2022

Appendix 22 - Higher Education Governance Scotland Act 2016