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

Prof Sir Rick Trainor

Exeter College

Oxford’s thirty-eight Colleges and six Permanent Private Halls are vibrant academic communities situated in a world-leading university and a dynamic local environment. Each College and Hall has its own individual character and composition: some Colleges trace their history as far back as the 11th century, while others draw from modern foundations rooted in the pursuit of equality of opportunity. Today, all are deeply committed to welcoming students to Oxford who have genuine academic potential, irrespective of background or country of origin, and to helping them to realise their potential. Our communities are supported by committed teams of professionals within a lively and dynamic city. 

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 want to welcome colleagues, students, prospective students, and members of the public alike to engage with us, to learn about the Colleges and the wider University of Oxford, and to explore the Conference’s resources on these web pages. On this site, you will find information not only about the Conference and the individual Colleges but about how you can visit or join our communities. 

Professor Sir Rick Trainor
Rector of Exeter College


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 2016-17.

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.

Personnel Working Group (PWG)

The Intercollegiate Personnel Working Group discusses and advises Conference on personnel matters and liaises with the University.

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 2016-17                             

Access and undergraduate admissions

  • A major working group on access targets and regionalisation produced its final report, which was endorsed by Conference.

Student welfare and support

  • Senior Tutors’ Committee agreed guidance for colleges on undergraduate suspension of status.
  • Conference Committees reviewed the student Mental Health Policy and monitored the operation of the Disability Common Framework. The Welfare Forum, amongst other topics, discussed promoting resilience.
  • Conference endorsed guidelines for recruitment of Associate Professors in the Humanities, produced by a joint working group.

Regulatory and legal issues

  • Colleges successfully submitted their PREVENT returns following advice and guidance from Conference.
  • Information security in colleges was reviewed, and work took place to consider the implications of forthcoming data protection legislation on the operations of colleges.
  • Conference approved a new system to record the hours of students on Tier 4 visas working across multiple colleges.

Research policy

  • Conference contributed to the consultation on the REF 2020 exercise and began a review of research activities in colleges.

Planning and finance

  • Conference contributed to the consultation by the City Council on the local area Development Framework Plan and the Oxford Local Plan for 2036.
  • Conference and its Committees considered student number planning, working with the University to review the opportunities for growth and the challenges of this. Conference also reviewed the University’s strategy for graduate accommodation.
  • Conference and its Committees reviewed the annual allocations of income and costs between the University and Colleges and considered how best to develop the system for funding student hardship and bursaries. Conference approved proposals to move to a single fee for non-regulated students.


  • Conference took part in the University’s review of the Employer Justified Retirement Age and issued its own advice to colleges.

Domestic and operational management

  • The University’s Crisis Management Framework was discussed, including plans for incident response and crisis management.