Queen's University and McGill University in Canada have principals instead of presidents or rectors, as a result of their Scottish origins. In addition Bishop's University, the Royal Military College of Canada, and the Grenfell Campus of the Memorial University of Newfoundland also have principals.
At Oxford University, many of the heads of colleges are known as the principal, including Brasenose, Green Templeton, Harris Manchester, Hertford, Jesus, Lady Margaret Hall, Linacre, Mansfield, St Anne's, St Edmund Hall, St Hilda's, St Hugh's, and Somerville. At Cambridge University, heads of Homerton College and Newnham College are known as the principal. At Durham University, the heads of most of the colleges are known as the principal. Several of the colleges of the University of London are led by a principal: King's, St George's, Royal Holloway, Queen Mary, the Royal Veterinary College, SOAS, Heythrop, the Royal Academy of Music and the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama.
In Scotland the principal is appointed by the University Court or governing body of the University and will be chairman or president of the body of academics. In the case of the ancient universities of Scotland the principal is president of the Academic Senate. The principal also holds the title of vice-chancellor, but their powers with regard to this position extend only to the awarding of degrees, as both the vice-chancellor and chancellor are titular posts.
- Office of the Principal, Queen's University, Canada.
- The Principal and the Vice-Chancellor, McGill University, Canada.
- A New Principal for Swindon College, Swindon College, UK.
- Janet Murray, The college principal. The Guardian, 3 June 2008.
- Colleges and Halls A–Z, University of Oxford, UK.