The background and structure of the Council of Military Education Committees

When the War Office established University Officers Training Corps as part of the Haldane Reforms of 1908, it was agreed that any university wishing to furnish an OTC must have a Committee of Military Education appointed by that university.

Since that date, Military Education Committees (MECs) – or committees with comparable functions but different names – have extended their remit to include the oversight of units of all three Services within their universities. These now comprise: University Royal Naval Units (URNUs), University Officers Training Corps (UOTCs), and University Air Squadrons (UASs). MECs are presently extending their scope to cover the new tri-service units established under the Defence Training Undergraduate Scheme (DTUSs).

In September 1919, ‘The Central Organisation of Military Education Committees of the Universities of the United Kingdom’ was established following a conference of representatives drawn from the MECs. This organisation exists today as the Council of Military Education Committees (COMEC). The major function of COMEC is to serve as a single point of contact to represent the views of MECs to the MOD and as a channel of information between the universities and the MOD.

  1. To coordinate and present the views of MECs to the Ministry of Defence through the directorates for university service units of the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force.
  2. To consider and deliberate upon matters of policy emanating from the directors for university service units and to advise the MOD DRFC and the universities thereon.
  3. To assist in the coordination of the work of the universities through their MECs and in particular to facilitate systematic instruction and training of candidates for commission in the Armed Services as may be required by the Ministry of Defence and to promote for these purposes the cooperation of the universities with the Ministry of Defence.
  4. To act as a resource base and channel of information for universities and the MOD in matters relating to Education and Training for the Armed Forces and Defence Civil Service.
  5. To assist as may be requested by universities and MECs in the discharge of business within the competence of COMEC.
  1. To maintain liaison with other appropriate bodies concerned with Defence Studies and other relevant issues.

The membership of COMEC Council is as follows:

  1. The President.
  2. The members of the Executive Committee.
  3. The Chairman and Deputy Chairman of MECs and two non-Service members who hold current university appointments.
  4. The senior officers of the Services with responsibility for university service units.
  5. The Commanding Officers of university service units.
  6. Representation of the Directorate General for Training and Education MOD (DGT&E) and the Heads of the Defence Academy, The Council of Reserve Forces and Cadets Association and the Combined Cadet Force Association.
  7. Representation of universities without constituent MECs at the discretion of the COMEC Executive.

The Council normally meets once a year at the Annual General Meeting.

The Council shall appoint, by invitation, a President upon such terms as it shall consider from time to time appropriate.

The COMEC Executive consists of a committee of four office holders; the Chairman, Vice-Chairman, Treasurer and Secretary, and eight members elected by the Council with the exception of the Secretary who is appointed by the Council. The Staff Officers representing the URNUs, UOTCs, UASs, DTUSs and the (DGT&E) are members of the Executive Committee ex officio. Additional members may be co-opted.The Executive meets three or four times a year to conduct routine business and has the power to act on behalf of the Council. In particular it may act to provide timely advice to MECs and the MOD on matters of policy.

Name Office Term of Office   MEC
General Sir Peter Wall President 2017-2022
Mr J. S. Castle Chairman 2020-2024 Glasgow and Strathclyde
Dr M. Vilnay Vice-Chairman 2020-2024 Tayforth
Rev. Professor J. P. Taylor Treasurer 2016-2024
Major I. Stoney Interim Secretary 2024 – Leeds
Dr F. Ruddell Member 2022-2026 Queen’s Belfast
Dr A. MacLaren Member 2023-2027 Edinburgh
Ms C. Kinkead Member 2017-2025 Queen’s Belfast
Professor M. Siva-Jothy Member 2020-2024 Sheffield
Dr G. Matthews-Smith Member 2021-2025 Edinburgh
Major I. Stoney Member 2018-2026 Leeds
Dr A. Haniff Member 2023-2027 Edinburgh
Professor D. Dunn Member 2023-2027 West Midlands
Cdr. A. Loring RN URNU Staff Officer ex officio
Col. J. Powell UOTC Staff Officer ex officio
Gp Capt M. Barker UAS Staff Officer ex officio
Col. L. Brooks DCDS (Reserves and Cadets) ex officio
DTUS Staff Officer

For all enquiries concerning COMEC please contact the COMEC Secretary here.