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Changes to University statutes – information for students

You may have read recent media reports about proposed changes to the University’s governance arrangements (referred to as ‘statute XI). This page provides a summary of the changes, and what it means for Oxford students.

Page last updated 18 June 2024

What are University statutes?

The University statutes outline how the University of Oxford is governed - including key governance groups such as Congregation and Council, colleges and departments, libraries and museums, staff, students, property and discipline.

What is statute XI?

Statute XI covers the University’s discipline for students, outlining the different codes of disciplines and procedures, and what happens if these are breached. It also covers discipline related to University membership.

What changes are being proposed and why?

A number of changes are being proposed to statute XI, to allow the University to investigate serious misconduct without complaints having to be made to the police first - and to bring the University in line with the wider sector.

At the moment, if a student reports a serious incident (for example sexual violence), the University does not usually use its disciplinary procedures unless the matter has been reported to the police and they have investigated. This often leads to frustration from students and lengthy processes.

In addition there are three sets of regulations and the disciplinary procedure which can be confusing and difficult to navigate. Under the changes, students will only need to look at a single comprehensive procedure (with different versions for academic and non-academic matters).

The changes are designed to make the process more accessible, clearer and more effective. They also bring the University into line with many of the colleges, and with external guidance from our regulators.

Have these changes been proposed as result of the ongoing protest camps?

Absolutely not. The changes to the statutes concerning sexual misconduct have been under discussion since 2018, and the proposals have been developed through several University committees, with student involvement, since 2022.

Will the changes impact freedom of speech or the rights for lawful protest?

No. There is some re-ordering of existing clauses of Statute XI and minor amendments updating and consolidating the various documents. However, the changes do not create any fresh powers for the discipline of students relating to lawful protest.

The University is subject to UK law in all its activities, including laws related to free speech, expression and protest, as well as the University’s own policy on free speech.

Update: what are the next steps?

In light of feedback from members of the University community in Trinity term 2024, there will be no additional consultation on the proposals before they are taken forward. This pause will make no difference to the University's approach to protests and firm commitment to free speech, as they are unaffected by the amendments. 

Where can I find out more?

The proposed changes to the legislation can be found in the University Gazette, and a detailed University response to recent concerns can be found on the University website.