The University of Wolverhampton is an Higher Education Corporation – that is, it has a legal personality of its own conferred upon it by the Education Reform Act 1988 ("the Act") .
To draw an analogy, this status might be likened to that of a Company (but without the registration at Companies House) with members of the Board of Governors fulfilling the combined roles of Non-Executive Directors and Shareholders (although again neither term is used in the governance of the Corporation). The Act also establishes the University as an Exempt Charity enjoying all the rights and obligations of a registered charity but without the formality of registration with the Charity Commission. The Board of Governors are then likened to Charity Trustees.
The duties and powers of the University, as defined in the Education Reform Act 1988 and the Further and Higher Education Act 1992 are set out below. Whilst these powers are in themselves expressed widely, anyone having doubt as to the legitimacy of a proposed course of action by the University is advised to consult the Secretary to the Board and Director of Corporate Governance before embarking on a proposed venture or course of action.
1(a) The University shall:-
(i) keep proper accounts and proper records in relation to the accounts; and
(ii) prepare in respect of each financial year of the University a Statement of Accounts.
1(b) The Statement shall:-
(i) give a true and fair account of the state of the University's affairs at the end of the financial year and of the University's income and expenditure in the financial year; and
(ii) comply with any directions given by the Higher Education Funding Council for England as to the information to be contained in the Statement, the manner in which the information is to be presented or the methods and principles according to which the Statement is to be prepared.
1(c) The University shall supply a copy of the Statement to any person who asks for it and who, if the University so requires, pays a fee of such amount not exceeding the cost of supply as the University thinks fit.
1(d) The Accounts (including any Statement prepared under paragraph 1(a)) shall be audited by persons appointed in respect of each financial year by the Board of Governors.
1(e) In appointing any auditor under sub-paragraph 1(d) above, the Board of Governors shall:-
(i) comply with the provisions of the Act; and
(ii) take into account any guidance, and comply with any directions, given by the Higher Education Funding Council for England.
1(f) No person shall be qualified to be appointed auditor under paragraph 1(d) above except:-
(i) an individual, or firm, eligible for appointment as a company auditor under Section 25 of the Companies Act 1989; or
(ii) a member of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy.
2(a) The financial years of the University shall be as specified in the Act. (The current financial years of the University are 1st August to 31st July.)
2(b) Only the Secretary of State may direct that the financial years of the University are to be altered in the future.
3(a) The University shall give to the Higher Education Funding Council for England such information as that Council may require for the purposes of any of their functions under the Education Acts.
3(b) If the Higher Education Funding Council for England arranges for the promotion or carrying out by any person of studies designed to improve economy, efficiency and effectiveness in the management or operations of the University, the University:-
(i) shall furnish the person promoting or carrying out such studies at the request of that Council, or any person authorised by him, with such information, and
(ii) shall make available to him, or any person so authorised, for inspection the University's Accounts and such other documents
as the person may reasonably require for that purpose.
4(a) The University is empowered by Section 124 of the Act:-
(i) to provide higher education;
(ii) to provide further education; and
(iii) to carry out research and to publish the results of the research or any other material arising out of or connected with it in such manner as the University thinks fit.
4(b) The University is also given power by the Act to do anything which appears to the University to be necessary or expedient for the purpose of or in connection with any of the powers specified in sub-paragraph 4(a) above, including in particular the power:-
(i) to conduct an educational institution for the purpose of carrying on activities undertaken in exercise of any of those powers and, in particular, the conduct of the University and for that purpose to receive the property, rights and liabilities transferred to the University under Section 126 of the Act;
(ii) to provide facilities of any description appearing to the University to be necessary or expedient for the purposes of or in connection with carrying on any such activities (including boarding accommodation and recreational facilities for students and staff and facilities to meet the needs of disabled students);
(iii) to supply goods and services;
(iv) to acquire and dispose of land and other property;
(v) to enter into contracts, including in particular:-
(a) contracts for the employment of teachers and other staff for the purposes of or in connection with carrying on any such activities; and
(b) contracts with respect to the carrying on by the Corporation of any such activities;.
(vi) to form or take part in forming a body corporate for carrying on any such activities;
(vii) to borrow such sums as the University thinks fit for the purposes of carrying on any activities the University has power to carry on or meeting any liability transferred to the University under Section 126 of the Act and, in connection with such borrowing, to grant any mortgage, charge or other security in respect of any land or other property of the University;
(viii) to invest any sums not immediately required for any of the purposes mentioned in sub-paragraph 4(b)(vii) above;
(ix) to accept gifts of money, land or other property and apply it, or hold and administer it on trust, for any of those purposes; and
(x) to do anything incidental to the conduct of an educational institution providing higher or further education.
4(c) The power under sub-paragraph 4(b)(x) above includes in particular power:-
(i) to found scholarships or exhibitions; and
(ii) to make grants and give prizes.
5. By virtue of an Order made by Privy Council under Section 76 of the Further and Higher Education Act 1992, the University is empowered:-
5(a) to grant any degree, diploma, certificate or other academic award or distinction:-
(i) to persons who complete an appropriate course of study and who satisfy an appropriate assessment; and
(ii) to persons who complete an appropriate programme of supervised research and who satisfy an appropriate assessment;
5(b) to grant honorary degrees;
5(c) to grant degrees to members of the academic and other staff of the University;
5(d) to authorise other institutions to grant degrees, diplomas, certificates or other academic awards or distinctions, as specified in sub-paragraphs 5(a), (b), and (c) above, on behalf of the University;
5(e) to grant degrees, diplomas, certificates or other academic awards or distinctions, as specified in sub-paragraphs 5(a), (b), and (c) above, jointly with other institutions;
5(f) to deprive any person of any award granted to him by or on behalf of the University; and
5(g) to determine, in accordance with any relevant provisions of the instruments relating to or regulating the University, the courses of study or programme of research, and the assessments, which are appropriate for the grant of any award and the terms and conditions on which any of the powers set out may be exercised.
6(a) The University shall be conducted in accordance with Articles of Government made by the Board of Governors with the approval of the Privy Council.
6(b) The Articles of Government:-
(i) shall determine the functions to be exercised in relation to the University by the Board of Governors, The Vice-Chancellor and the Academic Board respectively; and
(ii) shall regulate the constitution and functions of committees of the Board of Governors and of the Academic Board and provide for the delegation of functions of the Board of Governors and of the Academic Board to such committees, to the Chairman of the Board of Governors or to the Vice-Chancellor.
6(c) The Articles of Government shall make provision with respect to:-
(i) the procedure for meetings of the Board of Governors, of the Academic Board and of their committees;
(ii) the procedure in relation to the appointment of members of the Board of Governors (including in either case quorum and proxies);
(iii) procedures for the appointment, promotion, suspension and dismissal of staff;
(iv) procedures for the admission, suspension and expulsion of students; and
(v) the appointment and functions of the Clerk to the Board of Governors.
6(d) The Articles of Government shall make provision authorising the Board of Governors to make Rules or Bye-laws for the government and conduct of the University, including in particular Rules or Bye-laws with respect to:-
(i) the conduct of students and staff, or either of them; and
(ii) any such procedures as are mentioned in sub-paragraphs 6(c)(iii) or (iv) above.
6(e) The Articles of Government may be varied or revoked by subsequent Articles made by the Board of Governors with the approval of the Privy Council.
6(f) The Privy Council may by a direction require the Board of Governors:-
(i) to amend the Articles of Government; or
(ii) to ensure that any Rules or Bye-laws made in pursuance of the Articles of Government are amended by the Board of Governors, in any manner specified in the direction, but before giving a direction the Privy Council shall consult the Board of Governors.