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A master (more generically called a head of house or head of college) is the head or senior member of a college within a collegiate university, principally in the United Kingdom. The actual title of the head of a college varies widely between institutions.
The role of master varies significantly between colleges of the same university, and even more so between different universities. However, the master will often have responsibility for leading the governing body of the college, often acting as a chair of various college committees; for executing the decisions of the governing body through the college's organisational structure, acting as a chief executive; and for representing the college externally, both within the government of the university and further afield often in aid of fund-raising for the college. The nature of the role varies in importance depending on the nature of the collegiate university. At loosely federated universities such as the University of London, each college is self-governing and the head of a college acts much like a vice-chancellor. At more centralised universities where colleges are not independent institutions, a college head will have much less power and responsibility.
University of London
Inasmuch as the colleges of the University of London operate as semi-autonomous universities, sharing certain student services and administrative facilities but undertaking independent teaching and research, the heads of these colleges have almost the same level of responsibility as a vice-chancellor of a non-collegiate university.
However, in addition to governing their own institutions, the heads of the colleges of the University of London are ex-officio members of the university's Collegiate Council, one of two major decision-making bodies in the central university.
Although the head of a college is often called the Master, many different titles are used. Despite these differences, the actual title used by a head of a college holds little practical significance.
In the case of the more ancient colleges, these titles are translations from the original Latin: thus "provost" was originally praepositus, and "warden" was originally custos.
- "Oxford Glossary". University of Oxford. Retrieved 24 March 2015.
- "Glossary". University Governance. University of Cambridge. Retrieved 24 March 2015.
- Anthony Archer (February 2015). "Oxford Heads of Houses: roles and trends in recent appointments". Bridgewater Leadership Advisory. Archived from the original on 2015-04-02. Retrieved 24 March 2015.
- "Collegiate Council". University of London. Archived from the original on 2015-04-02. Retrieved 31 March 2015.
- Salovey, Peter (27 April 2016). "Decisions on Residential College Names and "Master" Title". Office of the President Yale University. Retrieved 24 April 2020.
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