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Governance changes proposed in the HE Green paper

This article was previously published on the Leadership Foundation website.

The Department of Business Innovation and Skills has published a Green Paper, ‘fulfilling our potential: teaching excellence and social choice’, on its plans for higher education in England.

Underlying themes behind the Green Paper are improving the functioning of the higher education ‘market place’ through providing students and other stakeholders more information to make better informed choices, further deregulation, simplying the number of public bodies overseeing the sector to reduce costs and ensuring all types of providers operate with a 'level playing field'. 

The principle of a level playing field is applied to the governance of Higher Education Corporations (HECs). The constitutional arrangements for these institutions are determined by the Education Reform Act 1988, as subsequently amended by the Further and Higher Education 1992. HECs are part of the so-called post-92 institutions.

The Green Paper suggests (Part C, Chapter 3) the current ‘arrangements are out-dated and unnecessary restrictive and burdensome’. The government is proposing to modernise the constitutional arrangements and place them a more equitable footing with those institution’s incorporated under different constitutional arrangement (eg. chartered institutions). Specify, the government is proposing to remove a number of prescriptions on such institutions, and allow them to simply have instruments and articles, detailing the constitution and conduct of the governing body.

For all institutions the Green Paper is also proposing to make it easier to amend an institution’s governing documents and in the longer-run remove the need for HEFCE-funded providers to seek approval of any changes from the Privy Council.

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