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Staff are the key asset of a higher education institution, but also its largest recurrent cost. The effective and efficient management of human resources is central to the organisation's success, and an aspect of the organisation requiring the close attention of managers and Governors.


Governing body employment responsibilities include:

  • Appointing the head of institution and other senior post holders, and determining their pay and conditions. Appointing the 'right' head is often an important factor in determining the future success of the institution. Processes vary by institution, but typically involve the establishment of an appointments panel, and frequently consultation with other stakeholders (who might include staff, students, alumni, Court) to agree the type of individual sought.
  • Acting as the employing authority for all staff of the institution. As the institution employs its staff as an independent legal entity, the governing body is responsible for all matters of fundamental importance, highlighting that it should give appropriate attention to the institution's staffing strategy.

Additional resources

Briefing note 17: Employment

The governing body’s responsibilities extend to matters of employment, including appointing the head of the provider and acting as the employing authority for all staff. Governing bodies should ensure that, linked to the strategic plan, that there is a human resources strategy and an associated action plan. They should further keep under review the strategy and action plan, and monitor the outcomes arising from their implementation.
Download the briefing note

Getting to Grips Guide

The Getting to Grips with Human Resources Management provides an introduction to the role and responsibilities of governing bodies in relation to human resources.
Download the guide

Find out more about governing bodies and their committees

Governing bodies