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About the University

The Structure of the University

Oxford is an independent and self-governing institution, consisting of the central University and the Colleges.


  • The Vice-Chancellor holds office for up to seven years and is the senior officer of the University.


  • Five Pro-Vice-Chancellors have specific responsibility for Development and External Affairs; Education; Personnel and Equality; Planning and Resources; and Research, Academic Services and University Collections.


  • The Chancellor is usually an eminent public figure elected for life and serves as the titular head of the University, presiding over all major ceremonies.

University Council

  • The Council of the University is responsible for the academic policy and strategic direction of the University. It operates through five major committees: Education; General Purposes; Personnel; Planning and Resource Allocation; and Research.


  • Final responsibility for legislative matters rests with Congregation, which comprises over 4,900 members of the academic, senior research, library, museum and administrative staff.

Academic Divisions

  • Day-to-day decision-making in matters such as finance and planning is devolved to the University's four Academic Divisions - Humanities; Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences; Medical Sciences; and Social Sciences. Each division has a full-time divisional head and an elected divisional board. Continuing Education is the responsibility of a separate board.


  • Thirty-eight Colleges, though independent and self-governing, form a core element of the University, to which they are related in a federal system, not unlike the United States.
  • Each college is granted a charter approved by the Privy Council, under which it is governed by a Head of House and a Governing Body comprising of a number of Fellows, most of whom also hold University posts.
  • There are also six Permanent Private Halls, which were founded by different Christian denominations, and still retain their religious character today.
  • Thirty colleges and all six halls admit students for both undergraduate and graduate degrees.
  • Six other colleges are for graduates only. In addition, All Souls College has Fellows only and Kellogg College supports the lifelong learning work of the University for adult, part-time, and professional development students.