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A framework for supporting governing body effectiveness reviews in higher education


The Advance HE governance effectiveness framework and supporting toolkit has been revised during 2020 in order to respond to a range of developments relevant to higher education governance including:

  • Updated commonly-used codes of practice such as the HE Code of Governance (CUC, 2020) and the UK Corporate Code of Governance (2018), the Scottish Code of Good Higher Education Governance (2017) and the Charity Code of Governance (2017)
  • Relevant reviews such as the Camm review of governance in Wales HE (2020) and lessons learned from high profile university governance matters in recent years.
  • In-nation regulatory developments such as the 2018 Regulatory Framework for Higher Education and the creation of the Office for Students (England)

The 2020 framework supports:

  • A renewed focus on the need for inclusive board culture and behaviours to enable appropriate challenge, assurance and decision making
  • The vital, urgent importance of board diversity – of all forms -  to effect sound strategy, inclusive leadership and stakeholder confidence
  • A higher degree of global governmental and regulatory interest in institutions critical to social mobility and successful economies, requiring new ways of evidencing impact and effectiveness (as well as navigating compliance regimes)
  • The move towards a broader concept of understanding and measuring stakeholder value, from financial to social, for example through the adoption of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the approach of Integrated Thinking and Reporting.

The 2020 framework has been developed to enable all higher education providers, regardless of their form, to understand the key components of good governance practice and their current performance in relation to them.

Key features

The framework recognises that every provider’s governing body effectiveness review will be different to that of their peers, and may also vary from their own past reviews. Moreover, individual governing bodies have to consider and decide what type of governing body they aspire to be and will judge their own effectiveness through reviews in this light. The 2020 framework sets out the key factors for consideration of higher education governing body effectiveness, and offers tools (such as an e survey) to support providers when they are conducting their effectiveness reviews.

The framework describes three inter-related elements that underpin higher education governing body effectiveness reviews: working relationships and boardroom behaviours, the outcomes (or added value) of an effective governing body and the enablers of effective governance (the processes). 

A Framework for supporting governing body effectiveness reviews in higher education
A Framework for supporting governing body effectiveness reviews in higher education View Document

Find out about our Governance Effectiveness Reviews

Drawing upon an unrivalled pool of governance experts with experience from both within and beyond higher education, we offer a range of expertise in the delivery of these sensitive and important reviews. We recognise the diversity of the sector by making sure our reviews are customised to the characteristics and context of each institution – so a review can range from facilitated workshops to a full data-driven comparative exercise.

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