The University’s executive governing body is the Council, which is the body corporate, the owner of the assets of the institution and the employer.
Subject to the powers of the Senate, the Council exercises general control over the affairs of the University and is responsible for strategic planning, monitoring effectiveness and performance, finance, audit, estate management and human resource management.
The Council has a membership of 21. The majority (11) are external non-executive members, of whom the chair, the Pro-Chancellor, is one. There is also one executive member, the Vice-Chancellor, five members of the Senate one of whom shall be an associate lecturer appointed by the Senate, the President of the Open University Students Association and one other student, one associate lecturer and one member of the non-academic staff. The Council meets four times a year, November, March, May and July.
The Council Constitution provides full details of its membership, terms of reference, mode of operation and schedule of delegation. Brief biographies for the individual members of the Council can be found on the Council Members page.
The Office for Students requires members of the Council, co-opted members of Council committees and senior members of the University to declare the names of any charities of which they are also a trustee. These are detailed below together with a list of the University's major suppliers, funders and partners.
Much of the detailed business of the Council is conducted through its specialist committees, which advise the Council on:
The Strategic Planning and Resources Committee (SPRC) is a joint committee of the Council and the Senate, and reports to both as appropriate.
These are shown in the OU Governance Structure Chart.
Further information on the Council and its subcommittees, together with papers and minutes of meetings, is available through the Formal Committees pages of the Governance intranet site. Please note that members of the public will be unable to access this restricted area.
The effectiveness of the University’s governance structures and arrangements are kept under regular review. This review has a two-pronged approach:
An annual effectiveness review (AER) appraises business and decision-making against the terms of reference for all University committees providing opportunity to consider and implement changes when required, and between major governance reviews. A more detailed (major) review of effectiveness and performance benchmarked against guidance set out in external Codes of Governance, regulatory requirements and good practice elsewhere in the higher education sector is intended to take place every five years.
The fourth and most recent major review of the Council and its committees took place in 2015/16
Information on the actions taken to respond to the 2009/10 Review is below.