Role description for member of council

The following information provides a description of the role of an independent Council member at the University of Salford.


The University Council is collectively responsible for the success of the institution, ensuring that the university’s strategic ambition is realised. Council is responsible for ensuring that the governance arrangements around the university are well managed, that there is a robust system of risk management and control in place, and that it plans and manages the institution’s activities to remain sustainable and financially viable. Council focuses on constructive challenge and support, ensuring assurance is at the heart of its approach, displaying positive attitudes and behaviours that will secure the University of Salford as an institution that students aspire to attend, where academics lead in research and teaching and where employees are proud to work.


Role purpose

Industry collaboration remains one of our strategic guiding principles that will allow us to achieve our vision of preparing students for life. The University of Salford offers a real-world approach to learning with a flexible, industry-informed and research-based curriculum co-created by the university and industry. We aim to ensure that the student experience at the university is the best in the country. It is essential that we provide our students with pathways to employment so that their experience at the university leaves them not only with an academic qualification but also with life skills to enable them to flourish within whichever future endeavour they choose to pursue. Council members will bring vision, networks and expertise to support the Vice-Chancellor and the Executive to deliver this strategy.


A Council member’s role is to:

  • Hold the University Leadership Team (ULT) to account for its leadership and management of the university;
  • Consider and approve the university’s strategic objectives and, with ULT, develop a road map for implementation;
  • Provide constructive challenge and support to ULT in delivering the university’s strategy;
  • Monitor the university’s performance against strategic objectives;
  • Ensure that adequate systems of control and risk management are in place and followed;
  • Assure that the university is sustainable and financially viable;
  • Support ULT in further enhancing the university’s relationships with its stakeholders and with its regulators;
  • Play, as appropriate, an ambassadorial role for the university; and
  • Undertake the functions outlined in the Charter and Statutes.


  • Ensure that any activity delegated by Council is managed effectively in line with the seven Standards of Public Life, as contained in the Code of Conduct for members and senior officers;
  • Maintain a constructive and supportive working relationship with the Vice-Chancellor and ULT, ensuring that challenge is conducted fairly and in a constructive way;
  • Recognise and maintain a proper separation between governance and executive management, avoiding involvement in day-to-day executive and operational management of the University;
  • Maintain the focus of assurance around strategic issues that will affect the ability of the University to operate within the present higher education climate;
  • Be conversant with the current higher education landscape to enable appropriate challenge and relevant assurance.

Person specification

  • Have appropriate and recent professional expertise and knowledge relevant to the successful operation of a large and diverse organisation;
  • Experience of operating at a sufficient level of seniority and strategic influence (Board-level or equivalent) in an organisation of similar complexity to the university, to contribute effectively to the work of Council;
  • Have the ability to understand and digest complex arguments and discussions;
  • Will commit sufficient time and energy to fulfil the role requirements, devoting adequate time to prepare for meetings and to develop an understanding of university and wider higher education issues;
  • Have the ability to develop and maintain an excellent working relationship with the Chair of Council, the Vice-Chancellor, the University Secretary and other members of the Executive, as appropriate, respecting the proper separation between governance and executive management;
  • Have a good understanding of, and commitment to, the strategic mission of the university and student experience, being empathetic towards current challenges facing higher education;
  • Be prepared to actively engage in Council meetings and, where relevant, Committee meetings, and work collaboratively;
  • Be politically astute, with the ability to grasp relevant issues and understand relationships between interested parties;
  • Use, as appropriate, personal influence and networking skills on behalf of the university; and
  • To act fairly and impartially, always in the best interests of the university.

Approximate time commitment

  • Approximately 10-15 days a year, inclusive of five meetings, two strategy/development sessions and, if appropriate, four committee meetings. Council meetings are held in-person at our campus in Salford, and so travel to Salford is expected, and appropriate travel expenses will be covered. There is an expected time commitment to read papers associated with meetings as well as meeting the Chair annually.
  • Council members serve a three-year term before they require re-election and can serve a maximum of three terms.
  • Council members are also encouraged to attend other university events, such as Graduation.