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

This page details the responsibilities for each of the positions held within the University Court.

Chair of the Queen Margaret University Court

The Chair has the key responsibilities in relation to the leadership and effectiveness of the Court including:

  • To chair meetings of the Queen Margaret University Court.
  • To ensure members work together in an open, accountable and effective manner.
  • To ensure that the Court considers all key issues affecting the University and that all members have an adequate opportunity to express their views and participate in, and contribute to, decision making.
  • To ensure the effective operation of the Court in accordance with its Standing Orders.
  • To monitor the ongoing performance of the Court and to ensure that the Court acts consistently with the principles of public life and applicable governance standards, including the Scottish Code of Good Higher Education Governance and the UK Corporate Governance Code.
  • To ensure the effective operation of the Court’s committee structure.
  • To develop and maintain a constructive, yet appropriately critical and challenging, relationship with the Principal and Vice-Chancellor.
  • To develop and maintain a constructive, yet appropriately critical and challenging, relationship with the University Secretary and other senior members of staff.
  • To engage in periodic review of the individual contributions and performance of Court members and to work with members in identifying opportunities for future development in accordance with their individual needs.
  • To convene or to act as a member of Court committees as determined by the governance arrangements of the Court, to include the Finance and Estates Committee, the Senior Management Remuneration Committee and the Nominations Committee.
  • To represent the University on the Committee of Scottish Chairs and other external forums as agreed by the Court from time to time.
  • To represent the University, in an ambassadorial role, at internal and external meetings and events as appropriate.

Personal Attributes and Qualities

The key attributes and qualities required by the Chair are:

  • Integrity, independence and objectivity
  • The ability to facilitate an effective and productive decision-making environment
  • Maintains significant professional networks and has the ability to develop and maintain strong relationships with key stakeholders;
  • An ability to exercise sound judgement, tact and discretion;
  • A commitment to the vision, mission and values of the University;
  • Commitment to the University’s goals and policies in relation to equality and diversity;
  • The ability to communicate with influence and to demonstrate effective negotiation and advocacy skills;
  • The ability to act as a ‘critical friend’ to the University management, constructively challenging University management as appropriate.

Vice-Chair of the Queen Margaret University Court

The Vice-Chair assists and deputises for the Chair and is expected to play an active part in helping to manage the business of the Court. The specific duties of the Vice-Chair of Court include:

  • To deputise for the Chair of Court as required;
  • To support the Chair of Court in his/her role and to act as a source of advice;
  • To act as an intermediary for other Court members when necessary in hearing member concerns about the conduct of the Court by the Chair and in assessing the effectiveness of the Chair of Court;
  • To serve on the Nominations Committee and be actively involved in the selection and appointment of new members of Court;
  • To act as Chair of the Senior Management Remuneration Committee;
  • To otherwise carry out the duties of a lay member of the University Court.

Member of the Queen Margaret University Court

Committed Court members are crucial to the University’s success. Court members are drawn from a range of backgrounds and professions, and include staff and student members.

The Court is made up 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 elected by Senate and
  • The Student President and one other Students’ Union office-bearer

Role Description

  1. Court members commit to conducting themselves in accordance with accepted standards of public life, which includes openness, objectivity, integrity, honesty and accountability. Independent (Lay) members and elected members hold office for an initial term of 3 years but may serve a second term. Ex-officio members serve for the length of their term in office.
  2. Members 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 complete a Register of Interests form annually.
  3. Court members are expected to play an appropriate part in ensuring that the necessary business of the Court is carried on efficiently, effectively, and in a manner appropriate to the proper conduct of public business. They are expected to make rational and constructive contributions to debate and to make their knowledge and expertise available to the Court as opportunity arises.
  4. Members have a responsibility for ensuring that the Court acts in accordance with the instruments of governance of the University and with the University’s internal rules and regulations, and to seek advice from the Secretary in any case of uncertainty.
  5. Court members must make a full and timely disclosure of personal interests to the Secretary in accordance with the procedures approved by the Court. They must, as soon as practicable, disclose any interest which they have in any matter under discussion and accept the ruling of the Chair in relation to the management of that situation, in order that the integrity of the business of the Court and its Committees may be, and may be seen to be, maintained.
  6. Court members have particular legal responsibilities for the University which is a company limited by guarantee and an exempt charity.
  7. Court members may be appointed by the Court to at least one Committee of the Court and are expected to play a full part in the business of all Committees to which they are appointed.
  8. Court members may be asked to represent the Court and the University externally, and will be fully briefed by the University to enable them to carry out this role effectively.
  9. Court members may also be asked to act as advocates on behalf of the University. This may include a role in liaising between key stakeholders and the University, or in fund-raising.
  10. The likely overall time commitment required of Court members averages between 10-15 days per year. The Court meets on at least 5 occasions per academic year, and has a two-day Away Day on campus in the spring, which may involve an overnight stay. Court members may meet individually with the Chair or Vice-Chair once or twice a year, and may be required to attend sub-committee meetings three or four times a year. There is background reading associated with each of these meetings.
  11. In addition to the requirements set out above, Court members are invited to attend events held by the University, including the annual graduation ceremony in early July, professorial lectures, social and celebratory events.
  12. Court members are not remunerated for their work as Court members, but are encouraged to reclaim all travelling and similar expenses incurred in the course of University business via the Secretary pursuant to the University policy on this issue. Directors and Officers Liability Insurance is in place.

Person Specification

  1. Members should demonstrate a strong, personal commitment to Higher Education, its governance and the values, aims and objectives of Queen Margaret University. Lay members of Court should have experience as a member of committees/boards or experience of operating at a strategic level in a professional role.
  2. Members should have the ability to act fairly and impartially in the interests of the University as a whole, using independent judgement and maintaining confidentiality as appropriate. Members should have the ability to act as an ambassador and represent the University to the wider community and to operate as a member of a team.
  3. Members should be excellent communicators with appropriate negotiation, presentation and
    influencing skills.
  4. Members should be supportive of the University’s ethos, mission and values, and be committed
    to equality, diversity and inclusivity.