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Legal Basis for the University

The University is a Higher Education Corporation (HEC) in line with the Education Reform Act 1988 and Further and Higher Education Act 1992. This is a distinct model of incorporation reserved for the majority of universities which were former polytechnics and subject to local authority control prior to the granting of university status in 1992 in the Further and Higher Education Act 1992

The domestic legislation of the University is enshrined in its Instrument and Articles of Government. The Instrument sets out the high level powers of the University and provisions including the constitution and role of the Board of GovernorsThe Articles amplify the provisions in the Instrument and include more detailed principles in relation to: 

- the remit of the Board of Governors

- powers of the Vice-Chancellor as Chief Executive and ‘Accountable Officer’ and other holders of senior posts 

- the role and composition of Academic Board

- procedures for the lawful conduct of meetings 

- suspension, dismissal and grievance procedures for staff

- setting of tuition fees 

-  the University's responsibilities for oversight of students and the right to establish and oversee the conduct of the Students' Union in accordance with Section 22 of the 1994 Education Act.

Amendments to the Instrument and Articles require a resolution of the Board of Governors and  approval of the Privy Council. The Articles of Government were formally adopted by the University's Board of Governors on 11 March 1996. Amendments have been approved by the Privy Council in 2001 and 2012. 

The University is also an ‘exempt charity’ under the terms of the Charities Act 2006 and 2011. This means that it is not required to register directly as a charity with the Charity Commission, but is subject to Office for Students (OfS) oversight as ‘principal regulator’, further information about which is posted on the University’s charity gateway page. 

Northumbria Students’ Union is a charity in its own right (directly registered with the Charity Commission), and has established its own Trustee Board to oversee the delivery of the objects of the Students’ Union.

Enquiries about the University’s governing instruments should be directed to Georgina Bailes, Secretary to the Board and Head of Governance (

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