Oxford is an independent and self-governing institution, consisting of the central University and the Colleges.
The principal policy-making body is the Council of the University, which has 26 members, including those elected by Congregation, representatives of the Colleges and four members from outside the University. Council is responsible for the academic policy and strategic direction of the University, and operates through four major committees: Educational Policy and Standards; General Purposes; Personnel; and Planning and Resource Allocation.
Final responsibility for legislative matters rests with Congregation, which comprises over 4,000 members of the academic, senior research, library, museum and administrative staff.
Day-to-day decision-making in matters such as finance and planning is devolved to the University's four Academic Divisions - Humanities, Mathematical and Physical Sciences, Medical Sciences and Social Sciences. Each division has a full-time divisional head and an elected divisional board. Continuing Education is the responsibility of a separate board.
The thirty-nine Colleges, though independent and self-governing, form a core element of the University, to which they are related in a federal system, not unlike the United States.