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Governing Bodies

The composition of a governing body, the role of committees and effectiveness, as well as the detailed work of the individual committees, is discussed.

Membership, operation and effectiveness

Size, composition and skills: the size of the governing body, the mix and balance of its members' skills, the membership of committees, the extent of diversity among the membership and succession planning all affect how successfully it operates. 

Briefing note 12: Size,composition and skills

The composition and characteristics of governing bodies, including size of membership and the knowledge, skills and expertise of the members are important factors affecting a governing body’s effectiveness. Mindful of the risks of ‘group think’, attention also needs to be given to the diversity of the membership.
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The governance system: offers an overview of an institution's system of governance, including the work of the committees of the governing body, and its effectiveness. Further information on these topics is available from Governors' briefing note No. 13: the governance system and the effectiveness of governing bodies

Briefing note 13: The governance system and assessing effectiveness

Higher education has its own distinctive system of governance. For the overall system to be effective, not only must all of the individual elements be effective, but they must work in harmony. Periodically, the governing body should undertake a review of the effectiveness of the system of governance. This may be assisted by use of an independent facilitator.
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Committees and areas of responsibility

Audit Committee

Plays a key role in offering assurance to the governing body as to operation and effectiveness of the institution's systems of control and that appropriate process are in place to manage risk.
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Nominations Committee

Identifies, recruits and appoints new governors, and reviews the re-appointment of existing members who are eligible to serve for a further term.
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Remuneration Committee

Concerned with the performance appraisal and level of reward received by the head of institution, and by senior post holders.
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A higher education institution is a separate legal entity, and is the employing body for its staff.
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The responsibilities of a governing body include approving the budget and major expenditures, and monitoring financial outcomes against agreed plans.
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Expenditure on physical assets frequently accounts for the largest part of the institution's capital expenditure. Major expenditure will reflect the institution's strategic ambitions, and impact its operations and finance.
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