|Administrative History||The Court of Governors was instituted as the supreme governing body of the University of Birmingham. It met once a year to accept the annual report from University Council, together with the annual accounts of the University. When it was constituted in 1900 it consisted of just over one hundred and fifty members, consisting of 'life members' mostly drawn from the city of Birmingham and the surrounding Midland counties, and representative members from local government, school boards, major local schools, and regional educational associations. Local MPs and bishops also had seats. Membership was intended to demonstrate ownership of the new University by the city of Birmingham and the Midlands region, and to be a means to mobilise interest and support over the entire area. The quorum for meetings of Court was twenty, and thirty for special business meetings or special general meetings. The chairman of the Court of Governors was the Chancellor, or the Pro-Chancellor in his absence.|
Membership within the University by 1945 consisted of the Chancellor, Pro-Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Vice Principal, the Deans of the Faculties, Professors, the Secretary, the Registrar, the Librarian, Wardens of the Halls of Residence, and six members elected by non-professorial staff. There was also representation from the Guild of Students and the Guild of Graduates, and donors to the University of £1,000 or more automatically became life members. The Court of Governors was described by Eric Vincent and Percival Hinton in their 1947 history of the University as 'representative and guardian of donors and gifts of land, buildings, endowments and chairs, scholarships and fellowships' from private benefactions by individuals and industry. Raymond Priestley, Vice-Chancellor at this time and quoted in the same history, saw the Court as 'the means through which a large body of influential people are given a slight stake in their university and an interest which, though sometimes rather tepid, is better than no interest at all'. He saw the function of the Court as providing a means by which the University could foster good relations with influential members of the local community who were, in turn, invited to play a role in the development of the institution.
As a result of the 1968 student protest over the issue of student representation on University committees, a constitutional review was initiated in 1970, chaired by Jo Grimond, the Liberal MP. The remit of the 'Review Body', as it was called, was to address the issue of student representation, but also to consider teaching standards, promotions and appointments, changes to the power structure in academic departments and in the Faculties, and revisions to the constitution affecting higher levels of government within the institution. The Review Body recommended that University Council should take over as the supreme legal authority within the institution, leaving the Court of Governors, to be renamed the Court of the University, as 'a body that focused public interest on the University', as quoted in Eric Ives 2000 history. After the revision to the University Charter in 1975 which confirmed this change, the Court functioned primarily as a supportive body, subordinate to University Council
Source: Eric Ives, Diane Drummond, Leonard Schwartz, 'The First Civic University: Birmingham 1880-1980, An Introductory History', Birmingham 2000; Eric W. Vincent and Percival Hinton, 'The University of Birmingham: Its History and Significance', Birmingham 1947
|Custodial History||Court records were transferred to Special Collections in 1989-1990 as part of a project to gather and sort the university's institutional archives. Subsequent transfers of later records were made by officers servicing the Court of the University until 2018|