The Court of Governors was the supreme governing body of both the Victoria University (1880-1903), and the Victoria University of Manchester (1903-2004).
The charter of the federal Victoria University, granted in 1880, established the Court as one of the University's governing bodies. Its membership was drawn from the constituent colleges of the University, initially, Owens College, and later University College, Liverpool, and Yorkshire College (Leeds). In 1903 the federal University was dissolved and the independent Victoria University of Manchester was established. Constitutionally, this body was held to be the direct descendant of the Victoria University, with a similar system of governance (this continuity was reflected in the use of the Victoria University records by the new University).
As well as being the supreme governing body, the Court acted as a forum for the University and its major stakeholders to discuss important issues and to oversee important legislative and regulatory changes in the running of the University. The Court had a range of powers and responsibilities, including: the power to amend the University's charter, to approve statutes and ordinances and to approve the annual report and accounts. In addition, the Court had formal responsibility for appointing the vice-chancellor, the lay members of Council, the University auditors, and emeritus professors. It also had power to confer honorary degrees and to remove individuals from office.
The Court of Governor's presiding officer was the University Chancellor. At various times, membership of University of Manchester Court included senior University officers, co-opted members of Council, Senate and Convocation, the Lord Mayor of Manchester, student representatives, members of local health authorities, local authorities and local corporate bodies like Manchester Chamber of Commerce and Manchester Law Society. The Court had a large membership: in the late twentieth century there were over 250 members, with a majority being lay members. The Court usually met twice annually; its deliberations were in general non-contentious, formally endorsing the decisions of the University Council.