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The word rector has a number of different meanings.

In some countries, a Rector is the head of a university or school. At some universities he has the title of rector magnificus.

In Scotland, the position of Rector exists in the five "ancient" universities, St Andrews, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Dundee. It is a post elected at regular intervals by the students of the individual universities the holder of which is entitled to chair meetings of the university court, the university's management body. They are not the head of the university as such, that post being held by the university's principal (or Vice-Chancellor) but never-the-less their position is of some influence in the running of their respective university.

In religion, a rector is a type of Anglican priest. In the Church of England, for historical reasons, some priests are the vicars and others are rectors. The rector directly receives the tithes of his parish, while the vicar does not, and is paid a salary by his diocese. In the Church of Ireland, all priests are rectors, not vicars.