Our governance structure

We are regulated by the Office for Students, an organisation independent of Government and higher education establishments. Its objectives are that all students from all backgrounds who have the ability and desire to undertake higher education:

  1. Are supported to access, succeed in, and progress from, higher education
  2. Receive a high-quality academic experience
  3. Can progress into employment or further study
  4. Receive value for money

Legal Status

The College is an independent corporation whose legal status derives from a Royal Charter granted under Letters Patent in 1907. Its objects, powers and framework of governance are set out in its Charter and Statutes, which were granted by Her Majesty The Queen in 1998. On 4 April 2007 a Supplemental Charter and Statutes were granted by Her Majesty. This Supplemental Charter, which came into force on the date of the College’s Centenary, 8 July 2007, established the College as a university with the name and style of “The Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine”.

Status as an Exempt Charity

The College is an exempt charity under the laws of England and Wales, by virtue of the Exempt Charities Order 1962 and the Third Schedule to the Charities Act 2011. Each of the College’s purposes must be for the public benefit. The Office for Students regulates universities as charities on behalf of the Charity Commission. The Council, as the College’s Trustee, sets and reviews its objects and activities. The Charity Commission’s guidance on the reporting of public benefit is used as a framework, particularly in relation to the advancement of education and fee charging.


The College is committed to exhibiting best practice in all aspects of corporate governance. It endeavours to conduct its business in accordance with the seven Principles identified by the Committee on Standards in Public Life (selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership).

Governance and Internal Control

The College’s Council is responsible for overseeing Imperial College London’s strategic direction, functions, and activities. They are supported in this by the President and by the Provost, who have direct responsibility for the delivery of the College’s core mission in education and research. The Charter and Statutes require the College to have three separate bodies, each with clearly defined functions and responsibilities, to oversee and manage its activities as follows:

The Council is the governing body of the College, and is responsible for the finance, investments and general strategic direction of the College, and for oversight of its governance and compliance. There are currently 23 members of the Council, the majority of whom are external members, including the Chair and Deputy Chair. Also included in its membership are representatives of the staff of the College and of the student body. None of the external members receive any payment, apart from the reimbursement of expenses, for the work they do on the Council. The Council meets at least four times a year.

The Court brings together alumni and neighbourhood organisations, to help the College engage with key stakeholders. Alumni members are drawn widely from amongst those who are actively engaged with the College and College activities. Local organisation members come from those organisations with a close link to College life. Its membership also includes representatives from the Council and from the College’s senior management. The Court currently has 29 members. Any changes to the College’s Charter would require the approval of the Court before they could be submitted to the Privy Council. The Court normally meets once a year.

The Senate is the academic authority of the College and draws its membership entirely from the staff and students of the College. Its role is to direct and regulate the teaching work of the College. Chaired by the Provost, there are currently 34 members. The Senate meets at least three times a year.

The principal academic and administrative officer of the College is the President who has responsibility to the Council for maintaining and promoting the efficiency and good order of the College. Under the terms of the Office for Students’ Regulatory Framework for Higher Education in England, the President is the designated ‘accountable officer’ as Head of the Institution. In that capacity they can be summoned to appear before the Public Accounts Committee of the House of Commons. The financial management of the College is prescribed in the Financial Ordinance approved by the Council and conducted in accordance with the terms of registration with the Office for Students, as set out in the Regulatory Framework for Higher Education in England.

The President has ultimate responsibility for the College’s strategic direction, functions and activities for the delivery of the College’s core mission: education, research and translation.

As chief executive of the College, the President exercises considerable influence upon the development of institutional strategy, the identification and planning of new developments, and the shaping of the institutional ethos. They are supported in this by a President’s Board whose primary function is to plan for and address issues of broad, strategic, and College-wide significance. 

The Provost reports directly to the President and is responsible for the delivery of the College’s academic mission, overseeing the quality, capacity and efficacy of research, education and innovation and engagement. This includes implementing the overarching academic strategy; the College policies supporting recruitment, development and retention of academic and research staff appointed by the Faculties; attracting students, ensuring their experience is commensurate with the College’s stature; and supporting their life and wellbeing across the learning environment. He also has responsibility for delegated budgets and their financial control. From September 2022 the President's Board and Provost's Board have been replaced by the University Management Board (UMB) which brings together the senior leadership of the College to consider its strategy, policy, governance and operations and advise the President and Provost. 

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