The University of Hong Kong is incorporated under a Hong Kong Ordinance (Chapter 1053 of 1964). The Ordinance defines in general outline the University's powers and duties, the privileges, and the constitution, and may be amended only by the Legislative Council of Hong Kong. It provides for the making of Statutes. The Statutes, which the University itself makes, repeals, and amends, set out in detail important constitutional and procedural matters. Supplementary to these are the regulations, which provides in close detail for the orderly conduct of the University's day-to-day affairs.
The Ordinance and Statutes also provide for the machinery of government, setting out the officers and bodies in whom all power rest and upon whom all duties devolve. The main bodies for which the Ordinance and Statutes provide are the Court, the Council, the Senate and the Boards of the Faculties. Of these, only the Council and Senate are given power by the Ordinance to make regulations. All of these bodies may form committees and delegate their powers as they see fit.
The University follows international best practice in regularly reviewing its governance (as well as management) structure. The most recent review was conducted during 2002-03, following a key recommendation of the University Grants Committee's Higher Education Review (2002) that the governing body of each institution should review the fitness for purpose of its governance and management structures. The University's review was undertaken by an independent panel of international experts, and its report entitled Fit for Purpose was adopted for implementation by the Council in April 2003. Apart from a small number of recommendations that constitute the University's ongoing reform of governance (and management), most of the recommendations have been implemented. The inaugural meetings of the reconstituted Council and Senate were both held in December 2003. A Guide and Code of Practice for Members of the Council has also been published to help enhance the transparency and accountability of the governing body and conform to the highest standard of corporate governance.