The highest decision-making body of the university is the university council, which holds responsibility for the university's economic activities and long-term development. Among its other duties, the council approves the university's statutes and adopts its strategic plan and budget.
The council comprises 11 members: five are nominated by the senate, one by the Estonian Academy of Sciences (from among persons who are not the employees of the university) and five by the minister of education and research (by involving the public into the nomination of candidates and proceeding from the requirement that the majority of the council members would be persons who are not the employees of the university).
The senate is the university's academic decision-making body which is responsible for teaching and research and development work at the university and ensures the high quality of work in those areas. Among its other duties, the senate adopts the statutes of the university and submits these to the council for approval. The senate has the power to exercise a one-time veto in respect of a council resolution by which the university's budget is adopted.
The senate comprises the rector as its chair and up to 21 members. The university's academic staff members elect four representatives from each of the university's faculties. Student representatives, chosen by the UT Student Union, make up at least 1/5 of the senate members.
The rector manages the university's day-to-day activities, is responsible for the lawful and expedient use of the university's funds and exercises the highest administrative and disciplinary authority in the university within the limits of his or her powers and pursuant to resolutions of the council and the senate. The rector represents the university and conducts transactions in the name of the university to the extent of the authority vested in him or her by the law and the statutes of the university. The rector may exercise a one-time veto in respect of a regulation or resolution of the senate.
The rector is elected for a term of five years by an electoral college comprising members of the council, senate, faculty councils and the Student Union as well as all professors and research professors whose workload at the university is at least 20 hours per week.
The rector appoints the university's vice rectors and area directors, who, togehter with the deans of facutlies, form the Rector's Office.
The university's academic structure consists of institutes and colleges belonging to the Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Faculty of Social Sciences, Faculty of Medicine and Faculty of Science and Technology, and non-faculty institutions. The work of each faculty is led by the dean and coordinated by the faculty council. The latter comprises the dean and the heads of institutes and directors of colleges within the faculty. In addition, the faculty council comprises five student representatives and three members appointed by the faculty council itself. Academic staff of the faculty choose their representatives who fulfil the rest of council member places.
In addition to the council, senate and rector, other governing bodies under the statues of the institutes, colleges and institutions and other legislation include: