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Academic governance and quality

The term 'academic governance' refers to how the academic matters of the institution are governed. Typically, academic governance will cover matters such as student admissions, academic standards and academic quality. By contrast 'Corporate governance' is normally describes areas such as finance and estates. Together 'academic' and 'corporate' governance form the system of governance for most higher education institutions (HEIs).


The academic governance of an institution is normally the work of the Senate (or academic board). Senate will in turn be supported by a number of committees. Corporate governance will be responsibility of the governing body and its committees.

For the institution's system of governance to work, the two elements of governance need to work in tandem. If they do not do so, there is the risk of governance failure.

While the governing body is responsible for 'all matter of fundamental concern', it will generally respect the role of Senate, and defer to it on matters of academic governance. However, it may seek assurance from Senate that the institution's system of academic governance is effect.

Additional resources

Briefing note 4: Academic governance and quality

An important consideration is how a provider’s academic and corporate governance are linked. Historically, separate Bodies have been responsible for each element of governance. The relationship between Governing Body and Senate (or Academic Board) is examined. The balance of power between the two decision-making Bodies is not fixed, differs between institutions and has evolved over time. It may change again in the future.
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Getting to Grips guide

Getting to Grips with Academic Standards, Quality, and the Student Experience provides useful information for governors on 'academic governance'. Chapter 1 consider what is meant by the term 'academic governance', and Chapter 2 looks at the governing body's responsibilities for ensuring the institution's 'academic health and sustainability'.
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Find out about other areas of Governor responsibilities

Governor responsibilities