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.

Chair of Court Vacancy

Queen Margaret University Court is seeking to appoint a Chair to succeed Dr Frances Dow CBE who retired early in 2020. The position is currently occupied by Linda McPherson, Vice-Chair, in an Acting capacity.

The Court plays a crucial role in the development of the University’s vision and strategic direction. This appointment provides a significant opportunity for an experienced individual to lead the Court, and to work with the new Principal, Sir Paul Grice, on positioning the University’s future strategic direction.

The Chair of the Court is responsible for the leadership and effectiveness of the Court, and for ensuring that the University is well connected with its stakeholders, including its staff and students. The Chair leads the Court in observing the highest standards of corporate governance, including those set out in the Scottish Code of Good Higher Education Governance. 

To fulfil this important role, we are seeking an individual with a distinguished record of successful leadership at a senior and strategic level within a large and complex public, private or third sector organisation. Ideal candidates will be able to demonstrate excellent leadership and interpersonal skills, coupled with a strong commitment to, and affinity for, higher education.

Public Announcement of Election Outcome

Role Specification and Appointment Particulars

Equality and Diversity Monitoring Form

Lay Court Member Vacancies


Committed Court members are critical to the University’s success. Court appointments take account of personal and professional skills and experience in the context of the overall composition of the Court. Currently, we are particularly interested to hear from individuals who can bring to the Court evidenced expertise and/or experience within Higher Education; the creative industries; digital technology and/or innovation, health, including health policy; estates and property development. Applicants with other specialist knowledge are welcome to apply. You will have a strong, personal commitment to Higher Education, to its governance and to the values and goals of Queen Margaret University.

You will have experience as a member of committees/boards or experience of operating at a strategic level in a professional role. Consideration will be given also to individuals who demonstrate the capacity to develop the required knowledge once they are in the role.

You will be an excellent communicator with appropriate negotiation, presentation and influencing skills. You will be supportive of the University’s ethos, mission and values, and be committed to equality, diversity and inclusivity.

We are committed to equality and diversity and would welcome applications that reflect the breadth and diversity of the community we serve. We are currently under-represented in terms of BAME members, and would welcome applications from BAME candidates in particular.

Informal enquiries may be directed to Irene Hynd, University Secretary (

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 for vacancies in early 2021 are invited at any point to 31 December 2020. 

All applications should be submitted by e-mail to Irene Hynd, University Secretary (

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 QM150

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

Appendix 3 - Current Executive Board

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 2019-2020

Appendix 7ii - Ministerial Letter of Guidance on Outcome Agreement 2019-20

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 2018

Appendix 15 - QMU Articles of Association

Appendix 16 - UK Corporate Governance Code - 2018

Appendix 17 - QMU Risk Management Policy

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 21.1 - Final Report Externally Facilitated Court Effectiveness Review: Part 1 and Part 2 / 21.2 Court Effectiveness Report 2019

Appendix 22 - Higher Education Governance Scotland Act 2016