About the Conference of Colleges

The Conference is a forum for the Colleges of the University of Oxford to deal with matters of shared interest and common purpose, and a voice for college interests within the University community.

As an association for the Oxford Colleges, the Conference is made up of different committees that convene meetings attended by representatives from each College.

Read our leaflet, 'Who we are, what we do'     Conference and its committees       

Main Content

What is the Conference of Colleges?

The Conference is an association for the Oxford Colleges.

The Conference has two main functions. It enables the Colleges, as self-governing and financially independent institutions, to act collectively on issues that matter to them. This may range from sharing information and good practice to acting together to procure expert advice or services. 

The Conference also acts as a voice for college interests within the University community.  It enables Colleges to debate and act upon the key issues of the day. Shared views and policies are developed, and decisions are made. This enables a collective college perspective to be communicated widely and to influence University decision-making.

Meet the Colleges

Welcome from the Chair of Conference

Mr Miles Young
Warden,  New College

Oxford’s great strength is that it is a collegiate university. Our 39 colleges and 6 private permanent halls are vibrant academic centres situated in a world-leading university but which provide something very unique: an intimate and caring sense of community. 

Each college and hall has its own individual character and personality: some colleges trace their history as far back as the 11th Century, while others draw from much more modern foundations. They all have in common a belief in the importance of welcoming students to Oxford who have genuine academic ability, irrespective of background or country of origin, and then to help them realise their fullest possible potential. In particular, we are committed to broadening the base of our recruitment so that it reaches out to groups which hitherto have been under-represented. 

For our colleges and halls, being part of the lively and vital City of Oxford is a major asset. Our staff, as well as our students, benefit from the many aspects of city life. 

The Conference of Colleges is an association, without any legal status in itself, which allows our different college communities to share our experience and expertise. As independently governed institutions, the Colleges and Halls all face similar challenges as we engage with students, with each other and the University, with our city, and with our wider community. Through regular meetings of college officers, we have the facility to debate key issues that affect us collectively. We are able to formulate useful policies for the benefit of all; work in partnership with the wider University; and develop and share our views effectively. 

I hope very much that colleagues, students, prospective students and members of the public will find us a useful resource – a gateway both into the colleges and the wider university of Oxford. Please explore the Conference’s resources on these web pages. 

At a personal level, both I, and my colleagues, are available should you have any issue, concern or suggestion you would like to make to us.

Miles Young
Warden of New College, Chair of Conference of Colleges


Conference and its committees

The work of the Conference takes place through the instrument of its different committees, which comprise members from each college.  Learn about the committees and their different functions.

Current issues

Learn about some of the key issues considered by Conference and its committees during the academic year 2018-19.

Conference and its main committees 

Conference and its main committees include representatives from each college.  Committees normally have smaller ‘standing committees’ and are empowered to set up their own or joint ad hoc or standing working groups.



Conference is the senior decision-making body of the Conference of Colleges, attended by all Heads of House.  It has a binding vote mechanism. It is empowered to take some decisions on behalf of colleges collectively; to gather the views of colleges and represents them in dealing with the University; to formulate a majority view among colleges; and to facilitate informed and transparent debate over collegiate issues.

Steering Committee of Conference

Steering Committee deals with key strategic issues and takes a proactive approach, reacting swiftly to university and external initiatives and raising issues with the University on behalf of Colleges.  It has eleven members, which include the Chairs of the main committees of Conference, together with representative Heads of House and college fellows.

Admissions Committee

Through the Admissions Executive, the Admissions Committee co-ordinates  the efforts and initiatives of all sectors of the University concerned with admissions and access.  

Domestic Bursars' Committee

The Domestic Bursars' Committee considers and advises colleges on matters relating to internal management of non-academic business and affairs of the Colleges, including commercial business. Among its functions, the committee oversees the management of Conference Oxford and considers shared initiatives for the procurement of domestic goods and services.  

Estates Bursars' Committee

The Estates Bursars' Committee focuses on financial and management issues affecting colleges, including college fees, tax and pensions issues, and more broadly the financial aspects of any academic or internal matters affecting colleges.

Graduate Committee

The Graduate Committee represents and discusses the interests of colleges and their students in relation to graduate studies.  

Senior Tutors' Committee

The Senior Tutors’ Committee has a remit across the diversity of academic matters in colleges relating to undergraduate teaching.  This includes work on encouraging good practice and evenness in academic provision, and monitoring and contributing to the development of academic policy at University and Divisional level.

Other key committees, panels, and fora  

Legal Panel

The Legal Panel identifies legal issues affecting the colleges and liaises with the University on legal matters of mutual University and college concern.

Monitoring and Moderation Board (MMB)

The Board advises Conference on the operation of the Collegiate Funding Formula (CFF), which allocates resource between the colleges.

Development Panel (CCDP)

The Development Panel advises Conference on development matters, considers reports from College Development Directors, and liaises with the University as the first point of contact for strategic and policy issues affecting the Colleges. 

ICT Steering Committee (ICTSC)

The ICTSC advises Conference on developments, opportunities,  and risks in order to help colleges deliver cost effective and efficient ICT services and systems.  The Committee also receives reports from the Colleges’ IT Managers Committee (CITMC).

Access to committee information and meeting papers for College and University staff

A full alphabetical list of each of the committees, working groups, and fora of Conference is available in the Members' Area of this site and by clicking the button below. 

Navigate to Conference committees in the Members' Area

Organisational chart of Conference, its main committees, and a selection of other key bodies

Some key issues considered in 2018-19   


  • Conference committees supported changes to maternity and adoption pay entitlement. 
  • Conference committees supported the reviewof the operation of the Variation of Duties scheme.
  • Conference committees considered proposals for a joint merit award scheme.
  • Senior Tutors’ Committee developed and agreed with the Humanities Division proposals for a standardised Faculty Lecturer stint.

Domestic and operational management

  • Conference developed a suite of training materials to support the dietary requirements of religiously observant and BME students and staff.
  • Data was collated and shared on accommodation, charges, and a number of other operational issues.

Research policy

  • Conference worked with the University to develop the Code of Practice for the REF and to carry out dry runs for the submission.
  • Conference considered the opportunities for Oxford as a global hub for innovation.
  • Conference agreed to support work to enhance and make more consistent the provision for Early Career Researchers. 

Access and Admissions

  • The development of two key undergraduate access programmes, Opportunity Oxford and Foundation Oxford, was debated and developed by Education Committee, Admissions Committee, Conference and Council.
  • Work took place to introduce a Graduate Access programme, UNIQ +,which a number of colleges supported. Nuffield ran its own, similar, programme.
  • Work continued on a number of outreach consortia which were implemented during the year.
  • The University’s Access and Participation Plan was successfully submitted.

Teaching and academic provision

  • Conference committees carried out the annual quality assurance exercise which indicated a high level of adherence to agreed recommendations and highlighted much good practice.
  • Conference committees participated in reviews of a number of departments and courses.
  • Conference developed a paper which will highlight to the wider university the extent and nature of colleges’ support for graduate students.
  • Conference continued to work closely with the University on the development of a replacement system to OxCORT to record undergraduate teaching and enable payments.
  • Graduate Committee of Conference initiated a programme of visits to colleges to develop understanding of provision for part-time students.
  • Conference committees took part in the development of a number of key academic IT projects.

Planning and finance

  • Conference advised on the creation of Parks College, covering a number of aspects. 
  • Conference debated and developed a new College Contribution Scheme 7 to run alongside the existing Scheme 6 Trust fund, providing funds for undergraduate access, graduate scholarships and the support of less wealthy colleges and societies.
  • Conference and its Committees considered student number planning, working with the University to review the opportunities for growth and the challenges of this. Colleges refocussed their graduate student number targets to align better with Divisional plans for growth, and took part in the FOCUS project to align graduate admissions procedures and promote efficiencies.
  • Conference considered the implications of the University’s strategic plan and the challenges of delivery, while advocating for a focus on teaching and student support.
  • Conference and its Committees considered the plans of the City and County Councils for sustainable transport and freight.
  • Conference committees considered a review of college fundraising and the Oxford campaign. 
  • Conference discussed the implications of the University’s major finance arrangement for staff and graduate housing. 

Student welfare and support

  • Conference Committees reviewed the Student Wellbeing and Mental Health Strategy and monitored the operation of the Disability Common Framework. The Welfare Forum, amongst other topics, discussed promoting resilience.
  • Conference and its committees supported the introduction of the Stand Alone pledge. 
  • The Equality and Diversity Forum held a disability discussion to showcase best practice in support.
  • Conference agreed to support the introduction of a Sexual Violence support centre, jointly funded with the University.
  • Conference considered key issues in the provision of support for graduate students.


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