Every governing body which adopts and complies with the CUC HE Code of Governance should undertake a regular (every three years) review of its effectiveness, except in Scotland, where governing bodies of universities and colleges are expected under the terms of the Scottish Governance Code to review their own effectiveness every year with an externally facilitated evaluation every five years.
The CUC HE Code 2020 states that: “HEIs must conduct a regular, full and robust review of governance effectiveness with some degree of independent input. This will provide assurance to internal and external stakeholders and allow a mechanism to focus on improvement and chart progress towards achieving any outstanding actions arising from the last effectiveness review. It is recommended this review takes place every three years.”
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HE regulators also usually require registered providers to undertake effectiveness reviews. The Office for Students in England outlines that externally-informed review is one way to help demonstrate the ‘adequacy and effectiveness’ of governance arrangements. The Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) in Australia has similar requirements.
In Wales, the recent government-commissioned Camm Review identified a number of ways in which governance needed to be improved and that external reviews have a part to play in this. An external perspective can therefore not only provide developmental support but provide improved accountability and transparency for stakeholders, increasing public trust in institutions.
Customising your review
Drawing upon an unrivalled pool of governance experts with experience from both within and beyond higher education, we offer a range of expertise in the delivery of these sensitive and important reviews. We recognise the diversity of the sector by making sure our reviews are customised to the characteristics and context of each institution – so a review can range from facilitated workshops to a full data-driven comparative exercise.
A Framework for supporting governing body effectiveness
Drawing on our network of experts, we provide this external perspective through our Framework for Identifying and Supporting Governing Body Effectiveness Reviews in HE.The framework is centred on three inter-related elements, which provide the foundation of the review.
These three key elements are:
- enablers – provide the foundations for effective governance and the building blocks on which governance rests
- working relationships and behaviours – encompass the relationship between the governing body Chair, the head of the organisation and the Secretary to the governing body and the wider aspects of boardroom behaviour
- outcomes and impact – evidence governance effectiveness and a governing body’s added value to its stakeholders.
We can tailor the exact review process used to suit you and to work remotely given the ongoing requirements to social distance for the foreseeable future. We are adept at adapting our reviews to suit your needs while maintaining the use of a robust process which triangulates the evidence collated e.g. through paper-based review and self-assessment survey, interviews or focus groups, and observation of meetings, as far as possible.
Why Advance HE?
Advance HE is at the forefront of providing support to boards, individual Governors and staff such as Clerks and Secretaries to improve governance effectiveness. We support good governance throughout HE by: facilitating the sharing of practice; upskilling and professionalising support with a focus on behaviours as well as process; and providing benchmarked, independent challenge and advice, and other bespoke support.
Using the framework for identifying and supporting governing body effectiveness reviews in higher education, we have conducted reviews with many institutions, including Strathclyde University, Manchester Metropolitan University, Gloucestershire, Regent’s University London, Marjon, Keele, Nottingham Trent, Greenwich, Bath Spa, Edge Hill, London Film School and the Open University.