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The Non-Executive Directors’ Handbook

11 Apr 2019 | David Williams A fifth edition of the Non-Executive Directors’ Handbook has been published. While aimed at the corporate sector, the handbook contains information of interest to Governors and governance professionals working in the higher education (HE) sector.

There are good reasons for Governors and governance professionals engaged in HE governance to be aware of governance in the corporate sector. Firstly, the development of codes and practice of governance that apply to the corporate sector have, albeit with some delay, often influenced the practice of governance in other sectors. Developments applying to the corporate sector can precede changes to HE governance. Secondly, while some aspects of HE governance are distinctive, there is some overlap with aspects of the corporate sector.

The fifth edition of the Non-Executive Directors’ Handbook incorporates changes to corporate governance that have occurred since the previous edition was published in 2014. The handbook is organised into 13 chapters, drawing on the codes of governance applying to the private sector, particularly the UK Corporate Governance Code, and to a lesser extent the Corporate Governance Code of the Quoted Companies Alliance and the recently issued Wates Governance Principles for the Large Private Companies. A number of other publications detailing different aspects of governance, including the Guidance on Board Effectiveness, issued by the Financial Reporting Council, are cited in the handbook.

While some readers may find it helpful to read the handbook cover-to-cover, others may prefer to use particular chapters of the handbook as source of reference.

Topics discussed in the handbook and likely to be of interest to those engaged with HE governance, include:

  • Effective boards and board meetings (chapter 5)
  • The role and work of committees of the board, namely:
    • Audit (chapter 6)
    • Remuneration (chapter 7)
    • Nominations committees (chapter 8)
  • Internal control and risk management (chapter 10)
  • Financial reporting and auditing (chapter 11)
  • Director development and board performance evaluation (chapter 12)

To assist with a review of an organisation’s current practice, many of the chapters contain a self-assessment checklist.

Overall the handbook offers an additional source of information for those engaged in higher education governance, complementing the sector-specific resources developed by Advance HE, including the Getting to Grips Guides and Briefing Notes.


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