Governance & Accountability

The University of British Columbia is committed to the core values of academic freedom, advancing and sharing knowledge, excellence, integrity, mutual respect, equity, and the public interest.  These values are outlined in UBC’s Place and Promise strategic plan. The Summary of UBC Policies & Expectations for UBC Faculty & Staff and the UBC Stewardship Statement further underline that all UBC persons are expected to adhere to the highest ethical standards when engaging in UBC-related activities.

In terms of the provincial legislative context, important distinctions exist between a university and other agencies or crown corporations, distinctions founded in long traditions and legislative support for the autonomy and independence of universities as seats of knowledge.

The University Act sets out the responsibility of the Board of Governors for the management, administration, and control of the property, revenue, business, and affairs of the University.  Provincial financial reporting requirements, environmental and workplace codes also apply. Within this legislative context, the Board of Governors retains wide latitude to set policy for the University; the provincial government respects and is legally bound not to interfere with the academic policies, administration and standards of the University (University Act s48).

The Board of Governors must ensure that the University is well managed and that procedures are in place to review all aspects of its operations with a view to increasing quality. The Office of the University Counsel maintains a PDF collection of all policies approved by the Board of Governors, as well as associated procedures and guidelines currently in effect.

It is also the responsibility of the Board of Governors to monitor the fiscal vitality of the University, and to determine that all possible areas of revenue enhancement are pursued.

It is important to note that responsible stewardship of public resources is mandated throughout the University.

Institutional & Academic Governance

One important distinction setting UBC apart from many other organizations is the division of governance roles and responsibilities in a university.  The traditional bicameral system of both a board and senate is refined in modern universities under legislative roles which separate business activities from the academic integrity of the institution.

The University operates as an integrated institution; both the Board of Governors and the Senates (Okanagan, Vancouver and the Council of Senates) are governing bodies of the University.  Their role is that of strategic oversight (to be informed about, but not supervise or direct the day-to-day activities, risks and successes of the organization), setting overall vision and strategic direction, and periodically assessing operational status relative to that direction.

The Board of Governors is responsible for the business of the University – its administration, finances, operations, assets and place in the community – and the integrity of such.

Governors are committed to ongoing assessment and improvement in support of UBC’s leadership role as a complex institution in exciting times.

The Senates have a more focused responsibility for the academic integrity of the University, subject to the Board’s involvement where academic matters interface with matters of business and the larger community.

The University Act provides for Board interaction with UBC’s Senates in a number of areas, including the consideration of recommendations from the Senates for the establishment of faculties and departments and the provision of chairs, institutes, fellowships, scholarships, exhibitions, bursaries and prizes.

University Executive

This important component of UBC’s governance framework is sometimes known as the Administration (see University Administrative & Governing Bodies).

Executive officers and management (including the President, senior administrative officers and associated systems) provide general supervision and direction of the business and academic work of the University, in accordance with, and to effectively implement, the strategic framework and oversight directions of the Board of Governors and the Senates.

The Board of Governors establishes operational policies within which the Administration operates.

The execution of UBC policies (as approved by the Board of Governors) is monitored by the Board through a variety of formal and informal reports from the Administration on the affairs of the institution.