The University Council was introduced by the "Freedom of Institutes of Higher Education Act of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia" of 2007. The Act stipulates that this should be the central body for universities from 1 January 2007 onwards. The composition of the University Council is regulated by the university constitution (Grundordnung (in German)). In the constitution of Bielefeld University that came into force in January 2008, the Senate accordingly specified that the University Council of Bielefeld University should be composed of five external and five internal members.
The Rules of Procedure for the University Council (Geschäftsordnung (in German)) were agreed on 12 September 2008. Following consultations with the Senate, these came into force on 1 December 2008.
The University Council advises the Rectorate and oversees its management activities. Pursuant to § 21 of the Hochschulfreiheitsgesetz [Higher Education Act], its tasks particularly include:
Electing the members of the Rektorat
Approving the university development plan and formulating target agreements
Approving the budget
Drawing up reasoned opinions on the accounts submitted by the Rektorat and on evaluation reports
Drawing up reasoned opinions on issues within research, art, teaching, and studying that either concern the complete university or central departments thereof or are of fundamental importance
Formally approving the work carried out by the Rektorat
The University Council has the right to inspect and audit all university documents. It meets at least four times every year. At the same time, the University Council informs all members of the University about its agenda and its activities in its own reports from the University Council.
Currently, a new Higher Education Act is passing through the State parliament . This so-called "Future of Higher Education Act" plans to retain the University Council as the central body of the University and continue to entrust it with the responsibilities reported above.