From Academic Kids

Proctor is the name of certain important university officials.



At Oxford University the proctors (procuratores), under the statutes, supervise the transaction of university business and appoint delegates to look after any particular affairs wherever these are not otherwise provided for by statute. They are ex officio members of all the important delegacies, except that of the University Press. They also act as the assessors of the chancellor or his commissary in particular matters dealt with in the university. They supervise the voting at public meetings of the university and announce the results. They also have, according to the ancient statutes, the power of veto in convocation and congregation: no proposal can be passed into a statute or decree if twice vetoed by them. They are ex officio members of the hebdomadal council, the governing council of the university, and they are the assessors of the vice-chancellor when he confers degrees. When a degree is to be granted they walk down the hail in which the ceremony is performed, nominally to ask for the approval of the masters, and it was formerly the custom for any tradesman, or any other person, who had a claim of debt against the postulant for a degree, to pluck the gown of the proctor as he passed and request settlement of the debt before the degree was granted. The proctors are also responsible for the good order of the university, and they are charged with the duty of inquiring into and reporting on any breaches of its statutes, customs or privileges. They are empowered to punish undergraduates, or graduates under the degree of Bachelor of Civil Law and Master of Arts, by fine or by confinement to their colleges or lodgings (familiarly known as gating ). They have to draw up the list of candidates for examination, and have to be present at all examinations, to see that they are properly conducted. They are responsible for the good order of the streets at night, so far as members of the university are concerned. For this purpose more especially each of them is empowered, immediately on his election, to nominate two masters of at least three years standing as proproctors. The proctors and pro-proctors take it in turn to perambulate the streets nightly, accompanied by two sworn constables, familiarly known as bulldogs. The proctors are elected by the beads, fellows and resident members of convocation of each college in rotation. They are presented to the vice-chancellor with much ceremony, part of which consists in taking over the insignia of their office, a copy of the statutes, and a bunch of keys from their predecessors.


At Cambridge University the proctors are nominated every May by colleges identified in a pre-determined cycle. They then serve from 1 October for one year, assisted by their Deputy Proctors and two Pro-Proctors. They must have been three years members of the senate and have resided two years at the university. The two pro-proctors are not, as at Oxford, nominated by the proctors, but are also elected by the senate on the nomination of the colleges, each college having the right to nominate a pro-proctor the year next before that in which it nominates the proctor (Grace of February 26, 1863). Two additional pro-proctors are also elected by the senate each year, on the nomination of the vice- chancellor and proctors, to assist the latter in the maintenance of discipline (Grace of June 6, 1878).

The early history of the office at Cambridge is obscure, but it seems that the proctors have always represented the colleges in university proceedings. In the past the Proctors administered the university's finances, acted as examiners for all candidates for the B.A., prosecuted anyone suspected of unfair trading, and had a multitude of other tasks. At present their functions are twofold (1) as taking part in all university ceremonials, (2) as enforcing discipline in the case of members of the university who are in statu pupillari (i.e. undergraduates and Bachelors of Arts and Law).

Ceremonial Functions

The proctors are ex-officio members of the Board of Scrutiny and of various other bodies. Their presence is essential at all congregations of the senate, at which the senior proctor reads all the graces (already approved by the council of the senate). If any grace is opposed by any member of the senate saying non placet the proctors take the votes of those present and announce the result. Graces are offered not only for making changes in university statutes and ordinances and for appointing examiners and the like, but also for granting degrees. When a degree is to be taken the college of the candidate presents a supplicat or petition for the degree, this petition is approved by the council of the senate, when they have satisfied themselves that the candidate has fulfilled the conditions, and is read at the congregation by the senior proctor: these supplicats are practically never opposed, but graces for new statutes and ordinances are frequently opposed, and on very important occasions many hundreds of non-resident members of the senate come up to record their votes.

Disciplinary Functions

The proctors' powers as to discipline have a very long history. As far as concerns members of the university they have authority to impose certain fines for minor offences, such as not wearing academical dress on occasions when it is ordered, and also to order a man not to be out of his college after a certain hour for a certain number of days (gating). In the case of more serious offences the proctor generally reports the matter to the authorities of the offenders college to be dealt with by them, or as an ultimate resort brings the offender before the university court of discipline, which has power to rusticate or expel. The power of the proctors over persons who are not members of the university dated from charters granted by Elizabeth I and James I, which empowered the university authorities to search for undesirable characters, men and women, rogues, vagabonds, and other personas de male suspectas, and punish them by imprisonment or banishment. In recent times this power was regularly exercised with respect to women of bad character. The proctors promenaded the streets attended by their servants (the bulldogs), who are always sworn in as special constables. If occasion arose the proctor could arrest a suspected woman and have her taken to the Spinning House (for which Thomas Hobson the carrier had left an endowment); the next day the woman was brought before the vice-chancellor, who had power to commit her to the Spinning House; as a general rule the sentence was not for a longer perior than three weeks. For this purpose the vice-chancellor sat in camera and the jurisdiction had nothing to do with that of the vice-chancellors court. In 1898 attention was called to this procedure by the case of a girl named Daisy Hopkins, who was arrested and committed to the Spinning House. Application was made on her behalf to the Queens Bench Division for a writ of habeas corpus, and when the application came on it appeared that there had been a technical irregularity (the prisoner not having been formally charged when brought before the vice-chancellor); so the writ was granted and the prisoner released. She afterwards brought an action against the proctor, which failed. It was now decided to abolish the practice of hearing these cases in camera. The whole practice was, however, objected to by the authorities of the town, and after conference an agreement was arrived at, the proctorial jurisdiction over persons not members of the university being abolished (1904).

The Junior Proctor has special responsibility for university societies and for resolving disputes arising from the Cambridge University Students' Union and the Graduate Union.

The Special Pro-Proctor for Motor Vehicles is responsible for licensing the keeping and using of motor vehicles (other than mopeds) within 10 miles of Great St Mary's Church by University students who have not yet reached MA status and are in residence in term or in the Long Vacation period of residence. The Motor Proctor also has the power to impose a fine of up to 175 for students breaching the regulations on the keeping and using of motor vehicles.

Proctor is also the title of an advocate in a court of admiralty.


External Links

Cambridge University Proctors (


Academic Kids Menu

  • Art and Cultures
    • Art (
    • Architecture (
    • Cultures (
    • Music (
    • Musical Instruments (
  • Biographies (
  • Clipart (
  • Geography (
    • Countries of the World (
    • Maps (
    • Flags (
    • Continents (
  • History (
    • Ancient Civilizations (
    • Industrial Revolution (
    • Middle Ages (
    • Prehistory (
    • Renaissance (
    • Timelines (
    • United States (
    • Wars (
    • World History (
  • Human Body (
  • Mathematics (
  • Reference (
  • Science (
    • Animals (
    • Aviation (
    • Dinosaurs (
    • Earth (
    • Inventions (
    • Physical Science (
    • Plants (
    • Scientists (
  • Social Studies (
    • Anthropology (
    • Economics (
    • Government (
    • Religion (
    • Holidays (
  • Space and Astronomy
    • Solar System (
    • Planets (
  • Sports (
  • Timelines (
  • Weather (
  • US States (


  • Home Page (
  • Contact Us (

  • Clip Art (
Personal tools