The Principal's Office

The role of Principal and Vice-Chancellor

The Principal is responsible for the overall operation of the University.

The Principal is President of the Senatus Academicus and ex-officio, a member of the University Court, the governing body of the University. The Principal is nominated by the Curators of Patronage and appointed by the University Court.

The University Court recognises the Principal as the Accountable Officer (Chief Executive) of the University.

For governance, management and academic leadership purposes it is the role of Principal that carries authority and responsibility.   The remit combines the academic credibility to inspire, lead and recruit world-class staff and students of the University, a belief in public service, and the business acumen of a chief executive in what is an increasingly demanding financial environment for universities. 

The Principal is directly accountable for leading a top-30 globally ranked institution of nearly 40,000 students and 14,000 staff, with an annual turnover of £929 million.  The University also plays a significant role in generating economic impact for the country - £2billion per annum in economic value (GVA) for Scotland and £3billion per annum for the UK as a whole. 

The Principal meets regularly with his Vice-Principals, Heads of College and Senior Management Team to discuss University Strategy and is the Convener of the University Executive.

Senatus Academicus

The Principal is also President of the Senatus Academicus, the University's supreme academic body which regulates and oversees the teaching and discipline of the University, and promotes research. The Principal chairs the meeting and has a deliberative and casting vote.


The Chancellor normally appoints the Principal as Vice-Chancellor. The role of Vice-Chancellor is primarily related to the conferment of degrees in the absence of the Chancellor at our summer and winter graduation ceremonies.

The Principal’s Key Responsibilities

The Principal’s key responsibilities, in running such a large and complex institution, are summarised on the page linked to below:

The Principal’s Key Responsibilities

Related Links

Principal’s biography

The University Court - University Governance website

The Senatus Academicus (Senate) - Academic Services website

University Executive website - University Governance website

Curators of Patronage - University Governance website

The University's Strategic Plan - Governance and Strategic Planning website

The University's Annual Report and Accounts