Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
Sign In

The Chancellor


The Chancellor is the Head of the University but, in common with other UK institutions, does not exercise executive authority. A member of the Council ex officio, the Chancellor may chair if present, but in normal circumstances it is the Vice-Chancellor who does so, and with the other members exercises this authority.

The Chancellor is elected for life by the Senate and has the power to call and preside over Congregations of the Regent House, with the conferment of honorary degrees being the most obvious ceremonial duty in recent times.

Ceremony is only one aspect of the Chancellor’s involvement, however. By Statute, the Chancellor also has powers 'to see that all officers of the University duly perform their duties' and to determine certain contested or unresolved matters on appeal. The statutes of a number of Colleges make the Chancellor their Visitor, ex officio.

The Chancellor, currently Lord Sainsbury of Turville, visits Cambridge on average twice a term, carrying out a programme of visits which over the course of a year will cover a representative sample of Faculties and Departments of the University; new buildings or facilities are often opened by the Chancellor.​​ 

The current postholder

The current Chancellor, Lord Sainsbury of Turville, is the 108th Chancellor in the University’s history. He was elected in October 2011 in succession to HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, who stepped down from the Chancellorship in his 90th year having served since election in 1976. Lord Sainsbury is an alumnus and Honorary Fellow of King’s College.

Lord Sainsbury is a former Minister of Science and Innovation (1998–2006). He is the Settlor of the Gatsby Foundation which he founded in 1967, giving philanthropic support to causes including plant science, neuroscience, economic development in Africa, the arts, public policy and science education​.​​​​​