The Convocation of the University of Manchester was responsible for representing and promoting the interests of the University's alumni. Its declared objectives were: "to promote fellowship amongst the graduates, to assist in the maintenance of contacts between the graduates and the University, and to further the interests of the University". The Convocation had primarily a social function, but also contributed to the wider governance of the University by forming the constituency which elected the Chancellor, and it elected a proportion of the members of the University Court. Convocation had the right to express its views on any University matter it saw proper and to convey these views to the governing bodies.
A convocation was first established by the federal Victoria University in 1880. This acted as a forum for the alumni of Owens College, University College Liverpool and the Yorkshire College, Leeds. Its membership comprised the Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor, professorial staff and registered graduates of the University. Graduates were entitled to register three years after graduating. Convocation held annual general meetings, and its ordinary business was managed by a committee headed by a chairman, supported by the clerk of Convocation. The annual meetings were always held at Manchester, and Owens College graduates tended to dominate the body. Although the main aims of Convocation were social and convivial, there were occasions when meetings were used by alumni to express their views of wider policy issues within the University.
In 1903 the federal University was dissolved, and the newly independent University of Manchester established its own Convocation. This retained essentially the same arrangements as its predecessor; indeed, the records show no sharp disjuncture between the two bodies. As time went on Convocation provided more social events for members, introducing an autumn meeting as well as the spring general meeting. A number of regional branches were established to run local events, including: London, Yorkshire, North West, North Wales, East Midlands and Manchester itself.
In terms of powers, Convocation had the right to elect thirty members of Court, two of whom were nominated to sit on the University's Council. Under the terms of the University's Supplemental Charter 1973, Convocation, Assembly and Court formed the constituency which elected the Chancellor. The chairs of Convocation were frequently individuals deeply involved with University life including Mary Tout (first female chair in 1920-22), Mabel Tylecote (chair 1954-6), Leonard Behrens (chair 1932-33) and Sir Christopher Needham (chair 1911-1914) [lists of the chairs of Convocation can be found in the later minute books of Committee CON/2/6-7].
In 2004 the Convocation was dissolved on the creation of the new University of Manchester, whereupon a new Alumni Association was created to look after the interests of the University's alumni. The assets of Convocation were transferred to a trust fund to be used for the benefit of this new Association.