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Getting into Governance

An introduction for those just starting out in governance, providing an overview, briefing notes and additional resources on becoming a Governor, University Secretary or Clerk, what governance means, and the responsibilities of a Governor:

Becoming a Governor

Governing bodies are formed of external ('lay') and internal (individuals who are employed by the institutions or connected to its student body) members. A new governor may therefore be largely unfamiliar with the institution they are joining, or strongly connected.

All new governors face new challenges when joining a governing body. These may be about understanding higher education as a business, the specific challenges faced by the institution they are joining or how the system of governance works in higher education. Depending on their background and expertise, new governors may face a steep learning curve when they first join a governing body.

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What is governance?

What is understood by the term governance in the context of higher education? Is higher education governance the same as in other sectors, or are there differences? Two key aspects of this question are examined:

  • The distinction between governance and management, including, what a governing body is responsible for.
  • The workings of a typical governing body, including the respective roles of the chair, head of institution and clerk.
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Governor responsibilities

The responsibilities of governors in terms of specific aspects or activities of the institution are examined. A range of topics are reviewed, including academic governance and quality, regulation and compliance, commercial operations, international students, risk management, students, strategic plans and monitoring performance

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Additional resources

Information to Support the Induction of New Governors

This guide has been written to provide a supporting document for institutions in the induction of new governors or for anyone wanting to understand more about the key elements of being a governor and the governance landscape of higher education.
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A Guide for New Clerks and Secretaries of Governing Bodies of Higher Education Institutions in the UK

This is the second edition of this Guide for governing body clerks either new to HE or new to their role, and updates the first edition produced in 2008. Its specific purposes are: to provide information on the role and responsibilities of the clerk; to identify a basic range of good practice in crucial areas; and to give guidance to clerks on the effectiveness of governance and how it can be enhanced.
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