Records of Glasgow University Court

Scope and Content

  • Annual reports 1964-2000
  • Court meeting minutes 1860-1997
  • Court meeting papers 1861-1899
  • Court meeting agendas 1894-1925
  • Court camera meeting minutes and papers 1900-1944
  • Correspondence concerning Court meetings 1861-1899
  • Finance Committee minutes and papers 1890-1964
  • Works Committee minutes 1890-1899 (GB 0248 GUA 2209, 11971), papers 1890-1942 (GB 0248 GUA 50000, 60000, 70000), agendas 1910-1920 (GB 0248 GUA 50000) and correspondence 1895-1898

The minutes of the meetings of the University Court were recorded by the Secretary of Court and maintained in handwritten minute books until October 1900. From 1900 a separate record of 'camera court meetings' was maintained in handwritten minute books until August 1944. These minute books were only available to members of the Court. Both the Court meeting minute books and Court camera meetings books are indexed and contain various printed reports and papers.

In addition, the University Inventory series includes letters, memoranda, reports and minutes of the meetings of the University Court and Finance Committee 1800s-1900s. Contact the Archivist for further information.

Administrative / Biographical History

The University Court was established under the Universities (Scotland) Act of 1858, as a 'corporate body with perpetual succession and a common seal'. It is the governing body of the University and is sometimes compared to 'the Board of Directors of a company'.

The powers of the Court, which are fully set out in the Universities (Scotland) Act 1858 to 1966, can be summarised as follows: 'to administer the whole property and revenue of the University; to review any decision of the Senate appealed against by a member of the Senate or other member of the University interested; to receive representations and reports from the Senate and General Council; to appoint chairs which are in the patronage of the University; to appoint examiners and lecturers; to recognise as qualifying towards graduation the teaching of any college or individual teacher; to take proceedings against a principal or professor, lecturer, assistant, recognised teacher or examiner, or any other person employed in teaching or examining; to fix fees; to found new professorships; and on the recommendation of the Senate, to prescribe regulations for degree courses'. The Court's power's are exercised either outright or by resolution under the 1966 Act. However, in a few cases they are recognised by Ordinance.

The Court consists of the Rector (chairman), the Principal, the Dean of Faculties, the President of the Student's Representative Council, an Assessor nominated by the City of Glasgow Council, an Assessor nominated by the Chancellor, five Assessors elected by the General Council, seven Assessors elected by the Senate, of whom at least three are readers or lecturers, two employee representatives and up to five co-opted (business/company) members.

The Court is currently part of the Management Services Division (MSD) of the University's Central Administration Planning Unit (CAPU). It meets on a regular basis throughout the year, receiving papers from the Senate and various other committees. The role of the Court Office is to 'provide support for the work of the Court and for the Secretary of Court as head of Central Administration'. Overall the court has 'ultimate responsibility for the deployment of resources in the University and for the strategic plans of the institution'. In addition to this the Court has a monitoring role in relation to the performance of the University, and it holds the Principal accountable for the efficient and affective management of the University. It is also responsible for the well-being of staff and students and for the reputation of the University.


Some of the Court records are arranged in series. Within series the items are generally arranged in chronological order. The rest of the records are awaiting arrangement.

Related Material

An abstract of the minutes of the meetings of the University Court from 1873 to 1900 was published in the Glasgow University Calendar (GB 0248 GUA SEN 10/16-42).

Copy notes by Principal Hetherington relating to the decision of the Works Committee to approve the proposals of the Corporation of Glasgow for the supply of electricity to Glasgow University, May 1937 (GUA 24219).

Location of Originals

The material is original.


Michael Moss, Moira Rankin and Lesley Richmond . The History and Constitution of the University of Glasgow . Glasgow :  University of Glasgow  ,  2001  .

SRC Handbook Guide 2000 Online, Who Runs the University?

Additional Information

Subfonds level description compiled by Yvonne Ewing, archives assistant, 13 May 2002  .