Australia and New Zealand
In both Australia and New Zealand, a chancellor is the chairman of a university's governing body; thus, as well as having ceremonial duties, the chancellor participates in the governance of the university (but not its active management). The chancellor is assisted by a deputy chancellor (known as the pro-chancellor in some universities). The chancellor and deputy chancellor are frequently drawn from the senior ranks of business or the judiciary (it is one of the few jobs considered compatible with judicial service). Some universities have a
visitor who is senior to the chancellor. University disputes can be appealed from the governing board to the visitor (as is still the case in the UK), but nowadays, such appeals are generally prohibited by legislation, and the position has only ceremonial functions (unlike the chancellor and deputy chancellor, who frequently preside at functions such as graduations, the visitor rarely attends university functions). The vice-chancellor usually serves as the chief executive of the university.
Macquarie University in Sydney is a noteworthy anomaly as it once had the unique position of Emeritus Deputy Chancellor, a post created for
John Lincoln upon his retirement from his long-held post of deputy chancellor in 2000. The position was not merely an honorary title, as it also retained for Lincoln a place in the University Council until his death in 2011.
Canada, United Kingdom, and Sri Lanka
Lord Grenville as Chancellor of the University of Oxford; painting by William Owen
The Chancellor of the University of Oxford,
, in procession at Encaenia, 2009
Canadian universities and British universities in Scotland have a titular chancellor similar to those in
England and Wales, with day-to-day operations typically handled by a principal. In Scotland, for example, the chancellor of the
University of Edinburgh is
Anne, Princess Royal, whilst the current chancellor of the University of Aberdeen is
Camilla, Duchess of Rothesay.
In Canada, the vice-chancellor usually carries the joint title of "
president and vice-chancellor" or "
rector and vice-chancellor." Scottish principals generally carry the title of "
principal and vice-chancellor."
In Scotland, the title and post of
rector is reserved to the third ranked official of university governance. The position exists in common throughout the five ancient universities of Scotland with rectorships in existence at the universities of
Dundee, which is also considered to have ancient status as a result of its early connections to the University of St Andrews. The position of Lord Rector was given legal standing by virtue of the Universities (Scotland) Act 1889.
Rectors appoint a rector's assessor, effectively a deputy or stand-in, who may carry out their functions when they are absent from the university. The Rector chairs meetings of the university court, the governing body of the university, and is elected by the matriculated student body at regular intervals (usually every three years to enable every undergraduate who obtains a degree to vote at least once). An exception exists at Edinburgh, where the (Lord) Rector is elected by both students and staff.
In Finland, if the university has a chancellor (Finnish: Kansleri, Swedish: Kansler), he is the leading official in the university. The duties of the chancellor are mainly to promote sciences and to look after the best interests of the university. As the
rector of the university (Finnish: rehtori, Swedish: rektor) remains the de facto administrative leader and chief executive official, the role of the chancellor is more of a social, political and even historical nature. However some administrative duties still belong to the chancellor's jurisdiction despite their often arguably ceremonial nature. Examples of these include the appointment of new
The chancellor of
University of Helsinki (the oldest, largest and most prestigious in Finland) has also the notable right to be present and to speak in the plenary meetings of the
Council of State when matters regarding the university are discussed. Despite his role as the chancellor of only one university, he is often regarded as the political representative of Finland's entire university institution when he exercises his rights in the Council of State.
history of Finland the office of the chancellor dates all the way back to the
Swedish Empire, and later the
Russian Empire. Historically the chancellor's duty was to function as the official representative of the monarch in the autonomous university.
The number of chancellors in Finnish universities has declined over the years, and in vast majority of Finnish universities the highest official is the rector. The remaining universities with chancellors are University of Helsinki,
University of Turku,
University of Tampere and
Åbo Akademi University.
In France, chancellor (chancelier) is one of the titles of the
rector (recteur), a senior civil servant of the
Ministry of Education serving as manager of a regional educational district (académie). In his capacity as chancellor, the rector awards
academic degrees to the university's graduates, oversees the
legality of the universities executive acts and channels funding from the ministry. The rector has no executive function in any university, but remains a member ex officio of the board of every public university in his district.
Germany and Poland
In Germany (der Kanzler) and Poland (kanclerz), the chancellor is the head of many universities' administration and the leader of the non-academic staff while the rector is the academic head. In Poland, the main academic bodies of the university consists of: rektor (the head of the university), prorektor (deputy rektor), dziekan (the head of the faculty), prodziekan (deputy dziekan), senat (the main council of the university). In universities with presidential constitution, the university's president holds both the functions of chancellor and rector.
In Hong Kong, the
Chief Executive of Hong Kong (and before 1997,
Governor of Hong Kong) acts as the chancellor of all chartered universities, which includes all
eight public universities and
Open University of Hong Kong.
 Day-to-day operation is in the hands of either a vice-chancellor (older and established institutions) or a president (in newer institutions), depending on the institution.
Turkey, Russia, and Ukraine
In Turkey, Russia, and Ukraine, the chancellor is the head of the university and is called "rector." Some universities in Russia and Ukraine have figurehead "presidents."
In India, almost all universities have a chancellor as their titular head whose function is largely ceremonial. The governor of the state, appointed as the union's representative of state by the president, acts as the chancellor of the university. The de facto head of the university is the vice-chancellor. In private non-profit universities, normally the head of the foundation who has established the university is the chancellor of the university and is the head of the university. His equivalent for engineering institutes is the director, even for those engineering institutes that are university equivalents like the
Indian Institutes of Technology.
For private university unlike the chancellor who heads the conventional Indian 'state university', the private university is headed by a president or chairman of private organization and have other posts like vice-chancellors, deans of faculties, registrar and controller of examinations.
In Ireland, the four universities all have a chancellor as their figurehead leader. However, day-to-day operations of the universities are under the directorship of a president (a
provost in the case of
Trinity College, Dublin). The
National University of Ireland's constituent universities do not have a chancellor each; rather, the president of each constituent university has the title of
Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the NUI. In
Dublin City University and the
University of Limerick, the chancellor is also the chairman of the university's governing authority.
In Malaysia, the chancellor position is given to dignitaries such as royalty or prominent politicians by universities to represent the universities in the political arena. For example, the chancellor of
University of Malaya, the oldest university in Malaysia is
Sultan Nazrin Shah, the
Sultan of Perak. His father,
Sultan Azlan Shah also served as chancellor at the same university until his death in 2014.
The chancellor of
Universiti Putra Malaysia is the current
Sultan of Selangor,
Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah, while the current
Yang di-Pertuan Besar of
Tunku Muhriz is the chancellor of
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia.
The chancellor of
Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia, a university situated in the state of Johor, is the current
Sultan of Johor,
Jeanne Abdullah, the wife of the former
Prime Minister of Malaysia,
Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi was appointed as the new chancellor of
Open University Malaysia to take over the role from the first chancellor, the late YBhg Datin Paduka Seri
Endon Mahmood (Abdullah Badawi's first wife).
Kuala Lumpur has given recognition to Tan Sri Datuk Seri Panglima Dr. Abdul Rahman Arshad as its first chancellor.
In the Philippines, the
De La Salle University designates the head of its university as the chancellor. For the University of the Philippines, the entire system is headed by a president, while the eight constituent universities under the system is each headed by a chancellor. The chancellor designates the different vice-chancellors for different areas of concern of the university: academic affairs, finance, and community affairs, among others. Some more universities like
University of Santo Tomas and other colleges, institutions have chancellors. Its Chancellor is the incumbent Master of the Order of Preachers (Dominicans) meanwhile, the Vice Chancellor is the Prior Provincial of the Dominican Province of the Philippines. Their roles are largely ceremonial. The University of Santo Tomas is governed mainly by its
Rector Magnificus in overseeing its academic, financial and other affairs. On the other hand, the
San Beda System, has the Prior or the Abbot of
Our Lady of Montserrat Abbey (Manila) as its Chancellor for its Constituent Units while a Rector-President heads each Constituent Unit.
Other universities in the Philippines (such as state universities like Mindanao State University where each constituent campus is headed by chancellor) are mostly headed by their respective university presidents. Meanwhile, private (esp. Catholic) institutions are headed by a Rector.
In Pakistan, chancellor is normally the figurehead of the university, who is normally the provincial governor where that university exists. Day-to-day business of the university is run by the vice chancellor.
Chancellor is a titular position in Bangladesh always held by the incumbent
President of Bangladesh under the Private Universities Act 1992.
 The position in public universities is not fixed for the president under any acts or laws (since the erection of a state university in Bangladesh requires an act to be passed in itself),
 but it has been the custom so far to name the incumbent president of the country as chancellor of all state universities thus established. The day-to-day business of the university is run by the vice chancellor. He has a deputy called the pro-vice-chancellor.
In Nepal, universities have a chancellor as ceremonial head. The de facto head of the university is the vice-chancellor. The chancellor is primarily responsible for attending the convocation programmes and accepting the resignation and appointment letter of a new vice-chancellor. Generally, the prime minister is considered the chancellor, and in his absence, the minister of education acts as the chancellor.
In the United States, heads of colleges and universities are typically called "
president." A multi-campus
university system may be headed by a chancellor who serves as system-wide chief, with presidents governing individual institutions: for example, the
City University of New York. There are also some university systems, such as the
California university systems, in which those two titles are reversed. At
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, which is a single unified university with three campuses, the chief officers of the two smaller campuses at
Newark are called chancellors, a renaming from "
provost." Rutgers University itself has a president as the chief officer.
Presidents are the functional chief executive officers of most standalone U.S. universities; however, a few universities, such as
Syracuse University and the
University of Pittsburgh, have a chancellor as the chief executive officer. There are occasional other uses of the title chancellor.
The College of William & Mary uses chancellor in the British sense, as a figurehead leader, but the actual executive of the school is the "president," not a "vice-chancellor." Some schools, such as
Lubbock Christian University, give the ceremonial title of "chancellor" to a retiring university president.
The Catholic University of America is headed by a
president (formerly "rector"), with the
Archbishop of Washington serving as chancellor, a ceremonial position but one which does require the archbishop to represent the university before the
Holy See. This scenario, while not always exactly duplicated, is typical in other Catholic universities due to the Catholic hierarchy. In some schools run by Catholic religious orders, the rector of the community supersedes the president when the individual is a member of that religious order.
The title "chancellor" is sometimes used in
K-12 education in a sense similar to
superintendent of schools, particularly in urban school districts. The
New York City Schools Chancellor is the chief executive officer of the
New York City Department of Education, which manages the city's public school system (the largest in the United States). The leader of the
District of Columbia Public Schools system is also referred to as the chancellor.