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Governor Development Programme (GDP)

We have a number of events available as part of our Governor Development Programme. These events have been designed to help you to develop and refine your skills in response to a rapidly changing environment.

COVID-19 update

In light of the current global COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak the remaining events from the Governor Development Programme (GDP) will not be taking place face to face. Our Rethinking Governance Online Programme  is still planned to start on 26 May 2020. See how Advance HE is supporting you during the COVID-19 pandemic with new member benefits and updates to services, programmes and events.

Upcoming Events

View a list of all upcoming Governance Events

The Governor Development Programme (GDP) was created in 2005 and built on the earlier initiatives of the Committee of University Chairs (CUC). The programme is designed to support Governors and governance professionals in all HE institutions throughout the UK and various events are held throughout the year.

This year’s governor development programme and linked activities continues to build on the theme of ‘Governance to 2020 and beyond: Improving Effectiveness for a New Age’. It allows participants the opportunity to understand and debate the impact of the near-constant change in the sector, while offering practice support and advice about how to successfully navigate these changes. In addition to focusing on a changing policy environment, the topics covered have been updated for 2019-20 based on your feedback to ensure they support all levels of governance within an institution across key priority themes such as board effectiveness, equality and diversity, effective decision making, board recruitment and the distinct features of HE in the devolved nations.

GDP has been designed to address a broad range of needs across governance, while many of our events may be specifically relevant to those involved in particular aspects or roles within governance, anyone in HE who is interested is welcome to attend any event. Additional topical events will be added throughout the year to help address the evolving HE Governance environment. In order to provide this selection of events and seminars, we work in partnership with a number of key organisations including CUC, AUA and Guild HE.

Advance HE’s governance activity including GDP is supported and overseen by our Governor Development Advisory Forum (GDAF) made up of governors, chairs, governance professionals and sector partners and agencies including UUK, CUC and NUS.

Governance events

We have a range of programmes and events designed for everyone, from those wanting an introduction to Governance in HE to those looking to expand their networks or update their knowledge of the sector.

View Governance Events Listing

Supporting Governor and governance professionals development in 2019-20

Please complete the brochure request form to download your copy of the Governance brochure

Download the brochure
Governance Brochure

With over 800 participants each year, GDP provides an opportunity for Governors to hear from sector experts, to network with peers from other institutions and to explore in detail key issues impacting the sector and institutions.

The portfolio is designed to support all Governors, including Student and Staff Governors, board Chairs and those with oversight for governance of HE providers. Events are also tailored to the policy landscape and the distinct circumstances in each home nation.

To help you find the support best suited to your needs, for 2019-20 we have aligned our events to the Governor's Pathway:

Governors Pathway
Governance event

Scotland and Wales

Events are also tailored to the policy landscape and the distinct circumstances in each home nation. These events offer an opportunity for governors from Scottish and Welsh institutions to examine some of the distinctive features of the higher education system within a national context.

Scotland New Governors

This event offers an opportunity for those new to the position to examine the particular facets of Scottish Governance, exchange good practice and network with peers from other institutions. Student Governors of Scottish institutions are also welcome.
Find out more

Governance in Wales

Our Governance in Wales event reflects the shared identity and diverse needs of the Welsh HE sector. The day will provide an opportunity to explore topical features of governance in the Welsh HE landscape, allowing attendees to explore issues and challenges and respond to the latest developments.
Find out more

GDP: Scottish Governance Symposium

This Symposium will provide a state of the nation view on governance in HE, with a particular take on the emerging impact of the legislation on governance in Scottish HE institutions, considering progress on outcome agreements and a wider analysis of the funding landscape.
Find out more


Aaron Porter
Associate Director (Governance), Advance HE

Aaron Porter is the Associate Director (Governance) for Advance HE leading on engagement with governing bodies and governance across the UK, including leading reviews of board effectiveness. He has worked with over 75 universities both in the UK and overseas, as well as projects for national governments focused on higher education. His portfolio of roles includes Director of Insights for the Hotcourses Group and as an external adviser to Civitas Learning. He is a member of the governing council at Goldsmiths, University of London and is Chair of the Board of Governance at Nelson College, a specialist higher education college in East London. 

He has previously served on the council of the University of Leicester, and the boards of a number of higher education sector bodies including Higher Education Funding Council for England, Universities and Colleges Admissions Service, the Higher Education Academy and the Office of the Independent Adjudicator. 

He was previously President of the National Union of Students in 2010-11, during the high profile debate on tuition fees. He also co-chaired the Beer/Porter Student Charter group which reported to the Higher Education Minister, David Willets, in January 2011.

Aaron Porter