The Elections Office conducts elections by Congregation to about 200 places on Council, Committees reporting to Council, other University committees and bodies, and Divisional and Faculty Boards. A list of University bodies which have representatives elected by Congregation (or subsets thereof) is available here.
Congregation is the sovereign body of the University. It consists of about 5,000 members, comprising academic staff, heads and other members of governing bodies of colleges and societies and senior research, computing, library and administrative staff. The official register of Congregation is published annually in the Gazette each HT and additions to the register are published weekly. The electronic register of Congregation is managed by the University Card Office.
The functions and powers, definition of membership and procedure of business, of Congregation are set out in:
These are elections to places on University bodies (or to offices, such as the Public Orator) where the eligibility to vote is defined by membership of Congregation. With very few exceptions, eligibility to stand as a candidate is also defined by membership of Congregation. In some cases, such as the election of the Public Orator or the Benefices Delegates, eligibility to stand as a candidate is open to all members of Convocation but only members of Congregation are entitled to vote. In other cases, for example, in elections to Divisional or Faculty boards, the eligibility to participate is restricted to a sub-set of Congregation (i.e. membership of one or more faculties, sub-faculties or divisions).
Eligibility to participate in an election by Congregation is checked against the electronic register of Congregation, which is managed by the University Card Office. For enquiries concerning eligibility of membership of Congregation, the University Card Office advises that you contact your College or Departmental Administrator.
The composition of each University body is determined by the University legislation and will change if the legislation is changed. As of MT 2015, there are about 200 places elected by Congregation on the following bodies:
Membership lists are published in the annual University Calendar and on the University website. There is a committee A-Z on the Staff Gateway with links to specific membership lists which are maintained locally.
The Council Secretariat also has a useful index page of Committees reporting to Council with links to both the current membership (oxonly) and the legislation relevant to remit, composition and related matters for each committee.
Election procedures are set out in:
General eligibility criteria which apply to all members of committees are found in:
Eligibility to participate in elections by Congregation
There are three types of eligibility to participate in an election by Congregation:
Candidates and nominators are also eligible to vote in the election in which they hold these roles. However, a candidate cannot nominate himself or herself for election (the minimum number of nominators is four and the maximum is 10, excluding the candidate). A nominator may only nominate a candidate for election if he or she is also eligible to vote in that election (i.e. you may not nominate a candidate if you are not eligible to vote in that election).
A candidate may not be nominated to more than one constituency on the same committee at the same time. This is a long-standing practice because of the difficulties that could occur if a candidate were to stand in more than one category – on the one hand, a candidate might split their own vote (and not be elected to either place) or, on the other, be elected to both positions.
The specific requirements of each election, as set out in the legislation pertaining to the body, are published in the notice of vacancy for election. Some example texts are given in the table below:
In addition to the specific requirements published in the notice of vacancies, prospective candidates are also asked to note the following general requirements (with respect to postholder status and consecutive terms of office) which apply to all committee members:
Council Regulations 14 of 2002 (General Regulations of Council for Committees), particularly regulation 1.(2):
1.(2): No person who has previously retired from any of the university or college posts specified in section 3 (6)-(9) of Statute IV, and who does not continue to hold another such post, shall be appointed or elected a member of a committee, unless the General Purposes Committee of Council or, in cases falling within the Personnel Committee's delegated authority or cases concerning the membership of the General Purposes Committee, the Chairman of the Personnel Committee, shall otherwise determine in an individual case.
The sub-groups specified in section 3 (6)-(9) of Statute IV, referred to above, are: the heads of all the colleges, societies, and Permanent Private Halls referred to in Statute V (section 3 (6)); the members of the governing bodies of all the colleges and societies referred to in Statute V (but not of the Permanent Private Halls) (section 3 (7)); the principal bursar or treasurer of each of the colleges and societies referred to in Statute V (but not of the Permanent Private Halls), if he or she is not a member of its governing body (section 3 (8)); and any other persons or classes of persons admitted by or under regulations made by Congregation (section 3 (9)). The persons listed in Congregation Regulation 1 of 2002 includes: (1) the Deputy Steward; (2) the Public Orator; (3) the Keeper of the Archives; (4) the Warden of Rhodes House; (5) the Director of the Maison Francaise; (6) the Secretary to the Delegates and Chief Executive of the University Press; (7) the Finance Director of the University Press; (8) the Tutors in Fine Art at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art; (9) the Emeritus Professors who are under the age of 75 years; (10) all persons working in any university department or institution who hold posts on, or assessed as equivalent to, grades 8 and above; and (11) such other persons as Council shall determine (curently listed in Annexe E of Council Standing Orders).
Regulations for Committees Reporting Directly to Council or One of Its Main Committees: Council Regulations 15 of 2002, particularly regulations 1.1.(4)-1.1.(6):1.1.(4) In the absence of provision in these regulations or in the General Regulations of Council for Committees to the contrary, appointed, elected, co-opted and student members shall serve no more than two consecutive full terms of office. Casual terms of office shall not count towards this limit. 1.1.(5) In the absence of provision to the contrary, an appointed, elected, co-opted, or student member of a committee of Council, who has served two consecutive full terms of office under regulation (4) above, shall not be eligible to serve as an appointed, elected, co-opted or student member of that committee until a full term of office on that committee has passed from the end of his or her period of service. 1.1.(6) Notwithstanding regulations (4) and (5) above, in the case of appointed, co-opted and student members, the General Purposes Committee of Council or, in cases falling within the Personnel Committee's delegated authority or cases concerning the membership of the General Purposes Committee, the Chairman of the Personnel Committee, may determine that one further consecutive period is permitted in an individual case.
Similar limitations of consecutive terms of office may be found in the legislation governing individual bodies. Candidates who wish to stand for re-election are asked to check the relevant legislation to ascertain whether or not they are eligible to stand.
Important note: with respect to these elections, it will not be practicable for GPC to make a determination of eligibility prior to the close of the nomination period because the timing of election deadlines (as set out in the legislation governing elections by Congregation) will conflict with GPC meeting dates.
From MT 2013, all candidates will be asked to confirm their eligibility to serve (under the University legislation) as part of the signed declaration on the official nomination form. This means confirmation of their status a) as a current postholder within the University b)who will not have exceeded the maximum consecutive terms of office by the end of term advertised.
All vacancies must be advertised in the Gazette at least 49 days prior to the set election date. [This changes the pre-2006 requirement to advertise vacancies 28 days prior to the election date.] This affects both the date that the vacancy is published and the election date itself.
For an election to meet the statutory requirements that (1) it be held in full term, and (2) that there be at least 49 days notice between the publication of the vacancy and the election date itself, all vacancies must be published before Thursday of the First Week of the same term which the election will be held.
The Elections Office will aim to advertise vacancies earlier whenever possible. For example, vacancies for Annual Election in Trinity Term will normally be first published in Eighth Week of Hilary Term.
Please note: The deadline for sending copy to the Gazette is eight days prior to the publication date. Consequently, the Elections Office must receive notice of an impending vacancy ten days before the expected publication date. Notice of vacancies which are received after Monday of Noughth Week cannot be processed for election in the same term.
There is a single date for close of the nomination period and all nominations must be signed by a minimum of four nominators. [This replaces the pre-2006 practice of two nomination deadlines, the first to be signed by two nominators and the second to be signed by six nominators.]
The nomination forms are available for downloading in word format. There is one nomination form for elections to Divisional and Faculty Boards and one form for elections to Committees and Boards, excluding Divisional and Faculty Boards.
One copy of the nomination form in respect of each candidate, signed by the candidate and four nominators, must be returned to the Elections Office, University Offices, Wellington Square, Oxford, OX1 2JD, before the relevant closing date for nominations. Nominations will not be accepted after the above deadlines.
Before completing the form, all candidates are asked to note the general eligibility requirements which apply to all committee members, as set out in Council Regulations 14 of 2002 http://www.admin.ox.ac.uk/statutes/regulations/519-122.shtml. Current members seeking re-election are also asked to check with the committee secretary as to their eligibility with respect to any specific restrictions on consecutive service.
It is recommended that you complete the form as a word document (including the names of your nominators, where known), and send the draft document as an email attachment to firstname.lastname@example.org for advance checking. (Early submissions of drafts will benefit from early notification of any validation issues encountered: later submissions can only be checked as time permits.) If you prefer to complete the form by hand, please print legibly, preferably in block capitals, as illegible forms cannot be processed.
Important note: the official nomination requires the original signatures of both the candidate and at least four nominators. This means you must submit a completed, signed, paper copy of this form prior to the deadline as noted above. Photocopies, faxes, electronic signatures or signatures by proxy will not be accepted.
Each candidate for election is invited to submit a written statement, of no more than 250 words, setting out his or her reasons for standing and qualifications for the office being sought. In the event of a contested election, these statements will be published both on-line and in the Gazette. The Registrar shall be responsible for ensuring that the length of such statements does not exceed the stipulated 250 words, and in the event that they do, or of any other questions arising about the content of such statements, shall refer to the Vice-Chancellor and Proctors for a determination of how to proceed. To meet publication deadlines, statements must be submitted to the Elections Office before the relevant closing date of nominations.
Nominations of individual candidates will be published on-line on the Elections Office website as received and processed and will then be published as soon as possible thereafter in the Gazette. Due to copy deadlines, nominations will usually be available on the Elections Office website at least one week prior to publication in the Gazette. For elections in Week Seven, all nominations will have been published on the web by the end of Week Four, and in the Gazette of Week Five; for elections in Week Eight, all nominations will have been published on the web by the end of Week Five, and in the Gazette of Week Six.
The practice of early publication on the Elections website exists because it is thought to be helpful for potential candidates to know as soon as possible whether or not the elections are to be contested. Please note that, by contrast, the candidates’ statements are published as a group, on a set date, following the close of the nomination period.
Once a nomination form has been submitted, it is not possible to change the terms of the constituency (i.e. to have the nomination stand as a nomination to another committee or to another constituency within the same committee). This is because each constituency represents a different election (for which a different ballot paper will be issued) and the official signed nomination form records that the candidate has been formally nominated by members of Congregation to stand in a particular constituency.
A candidate who wishes to change the terms of the constituency to which s/he had been nominated must notify the elections office of the intention to decline the original nomination (see withdrawal of nominations below), and then arrange to submit a further nomination in a different constituency before the close of the nomination period.
Please note: it is not advised that a candidate undertake this in the hope of avoiding a contested election because the final status of each vacancy cannot be determined until after the close of the nomination period. (In practice, the steps a candidate would have to take to move from one category to another would make such a move impractical, and in many cases impossible in the time available because of the need to be re-nominated.)
However, in the event that a change of constituency would fill one or more vacancies which would otherwise lapse, and the number of candidates eligible to fill these vacancies does not exceed the number of these vacancies, then, with the consent of the eligible candidates and their nominators, the constituency may be changed so as to reduce the overall number of lapsed vacancies. Any such changes of constituency will be identified on the Elections website and in the Gazette.
Candidates who wish to withdraw their nomination, must notify the elections office of this in writing (preferably by email) as soon as possible. If the nomination has already been published in the Gazette (or has been on-line for more than 24 hours), a note will be published (under the candidate’s details and in lieu of the nominators’ details) that the candidate has withdrawn.
Although candidates may withdraw at any time, it is preferable that they do so before the ballot papers are sent to the printers (this means notifying the elections office within 2 working days of the close of the nomination period). If a candidate withdraws after the ballot papers have been dispatched, voters will be notified of this by email as soon as possible. However, duplicate ballot papers will not be issued and any votes returned for the former candidate will be treated as spoiled.
Following the close of nominations, the status of the vacancies due for election will fall into one of three categories: Contested, Uncontested or Lapsed. These are published as Notices, described below.
In the event that more than one nomination form has been received for a vacancy, a postal ballot of the eligible electorate will be held to determine the elected member. Please see Procedures for Contested Elections for further information.
The following details will be posted for all vacancies for which more than one nomination has been received: the name of the Committee or Board, the name of the Retiring or Current member holding the post at the time of the election, the name of each candidate, the names of his/her nominators, and a candidate statement where submitted.
The final notice of all the candidates' details, including candidate statements where received, will be published on-line within 3 weeks of the election date and in the Gazette 2 weeks prior to the election date.
In the event that the number of nominations received is equal to the number of vacancies in the pool, the person(s) nominated shall be deemed elected as of the date of the close of nominations. Where individual vacancies have different terms of office, the candidates higher in academic standing shall hold office for the longer period.
The following details will be posted for all vacancies for which only one nomination has been received: the name of the Committee or Board, the name of the Retiring or Current member holding the post at the time of the election, the term of office, the name of the single candidate now deemed elected, and the names of his/her nominators. This notice will be published on-line within 3 weeks of the election date and in the Gazette as soon as is practicable thereafter (normally one or two weeks prior to the election date).
In the event that the number of nominations received is less than the number of vacancies in the pool, the person(s) nominated shall be deemed elected as of the date of the close of nominations. Where individual vacancies have different terms of office, the candidate(s) higher in academic standing shall hold office for the longer period(s). Any posts not filled will be deemed lapsed as of the date of the close of nominations, and will remain vacant until an appointment is made jointly by the Vice-Chancellor and the Proctors.
The following details will be posted for all lapsed places: the name of the Committee or Board, the number and type of vacancies, the term of office, and any restrictions concerning eligibility of candidates and/or electorate. This notice will be published on-line within 3 weeks of the election date and in the Gazette as soon as is practicable thereafter (normally one or two weeks prior to the election date).
In the event that more than one nomination form has been received for a vacancy, a postal ballot of the eligible electorate will be held to determine the elected member.
Ballot papers will be dispatched to eligible voters not later than 14 days (in practice, 2 to 3 weeks) before the day fixed for the election, using the mailing address provided in the current Register of Congregation. If you have any queries concerning the record of your current address, please contact your College or Departmental Administrator in the first instance. If you have not received your ballot paper within 12 days of the election date, please contact Elections Office.
In casting your vote, please follow the instructions given on the voting paper. In general: please place a cross in ink against the name of any candidate for whom you wish to vote and complete the personal details at the foot of the paper, including your signature. Proxy votes will not be accepted. Unsigned papers, or papers signed by proxy will be treated as spoilt ballots. Please note that papers signed in a different ink from that used to mark the cross, or other cases where there is doubt as to the voter's intention, may also be treated as spoilt ballots.
Completed ballot papers must be received by the Elections Office, University Offices, Wellington Square, before the deadline advertised. Papers received after this time will not be counted. Papers sent by Royal Mail with insufficient postage will not be accepted.
For security reasons, the Elections Office cannot issue duplicate ballots.
However, arrangements may be made for a voter to collect a replacement ballot from the central reception desk at the University Offices in Wellington Square. The voter will need to show his/her University Card by way of identification and will also be asked to sign for receipt.
Ballots will only be released to a third party upon receipt of signed instructions from the voter authorising the person to collect the ballots on his/her behalf. The third party will also be asked to show their University Card and to sign for receipt. The Elections Office cannot accept responsibility for any ballots released to a third party.
Please contact the Elections Office for further information.
There are no regulations to prevent lobbying and it would be very difficult to frame them whilst respecting freedom of speech. However, any lobbying must be in the spirit of the election and should not contravene existing IT policies (for example with respect to the misuse of official mailing lists).
The Elections Office also conducts elections by Convocation: of the Chancellor of the University and of the Professor of Poetry.
Convocation consists of all the former student members of the University who have been admitted to a degree (other than an honorary degree) of the University, and of any other persons who are members of Congregation or who have retired having been members of Congregation on the date of their retirement. To be a member of Convocation, you must have had your degree conferred, either in person or in absentia, at an official degree ceremony. Further information about degree conferrals and degree ceremonies is available on the Student Gateway, or from your College Administrator.
Convocation elects the Chancellor of the University and the Professor of Poetry. The election of the Chancellor is for his or her lifetime. The election of the Professor of Poetry now occurs every 4 years and the next election is expected to take place in 2019. Further information concerning the post of the Professor of Poetry is given in Council Regulations 24 of 2002: Academic and Other Posts.
Please note: although membership of Convocation is also a requirement for election to the Benefices Delegacy and the office of Public Orator, these are elections by Congregation, not by Convocation: that is, in these cases, all members of Convocation are entitled to stand for election, if officially nominated, but only members of Congregation are entitled to vote.Statute III: Convocation and Council Regulations 8 of 2002 (Regulations for Convocation Elections).
Eligibility to participate in an election by Convocation is checked against the electronic register of Congregation, which is managed by the University Card Office. For enquiries concerning eligibility of membership of Convocation, please contact your College or Departmental Administrator.