HE Governance – challenges and opportunities
Dawn Turpin has more than 20 years’ experience in leadership and management positions within the higher education sector with expertise in corporate and academic governance and regulatory compliance across UK nations. A former Head of Governance at The Open University, Dawn is now a Lead Consultant with AUA Consulting.
Reflecting on current and future challenges and opportunities for higher education governance, I’d like to share some thoughts on how the AUA governance consulting team might be able to help. Our governance consulting team is made up of current and former university secretaries, senior governance professionals and members of higher education governing bodies. We have a well-developed understanding of good governance, and how it applies in the higher education sector combined with sound knowledge of charity and company law.
An external review of governance effectiveness is an expectation of codes of good governance. In England a review also enables HE institutions to demonstrate the adequacy and effectiveness of their governance arrangements to the Office for Students. AUA Consulting can provide an expert independent assessment of the application of good corporate and academic governance alongside practical forward- looking recommendations for development and improvement. A typical review might comprise:
– A review of university documentation relating to governance
– Extensive stakeholder consultation, including observation of meetings, on-campus and remote interviews and online stakeholder surveys
– Identification of areas of good practice providing assurance to stakeholders
– Practical recommendations to support consolidation of good governance practice and future improvements
– A comprehensive written report, referencing regulatory requirements/benchmarks, tailored for your particular context
In my experience, areas that institutions often find challenging include the relationship between the governing body and the academic board/senate; the provision of assurance that academic governance is robust and effective; the balance of business on agendas (spanning strategy and compliance); the quality of information considered by boards; and arrangements for governor recruitment, induction and development. The AUA governance team will provide evidence-based insights and make recommendations to contribute to the continuous improvement of your governance arrangements.
Our governance consulting team is made up of current and former university secretaries, senior governance professionals and members of higher education governing bodies. We have a well-developed understanding of good governance, and how it applies in the higher education sector combined with sound knowledge of charity and company law.
In addition to a full review of corporate or academic governance, AUA Consulting team can also support targeted/focussed assessments of good governance practice such as your adoption of the HE Audit Committees Code of Practice and/or the Senior Staff Remuneration Code, reviews of the operation of specific committees – perhaps timed between full governance reviews.
Alongside this support, AUA Consulting can also help you with implementation of recommendations resulting from external review. In my experience there can be many reasons why recommendations from a governance review go unimplemented. Resource constraints, competing demands of the day-to-day management of meetings, resistance to change from key stakeholders and of course external factors (such as a global pandemic) all play their part. Failure to implement recommendations means the opportunity to make improvements is lost. You may also be storing up trouble for the future leading to unwelcome media attention or intervention by regulators (consider the experience of De Montfort, Bath, Plymouth among others). Away from higher education FIFA faced criminal investigations into a number of issues following a failure to implement recommendations from earlier governance reviews relating to membership independence, terms of office and conflicts of interest.
Alongside governance reviews, AUA Consulting can offer support in areas like revising governing documents and committee terms of reference, developing or revising guidance for committee chairs, members and secretaries, reviewing member recruitment, induction and performance evaluation arrangements, facilitating governing body away days. We offer a flexible range of options, drawing on a depth of expertise in governance, policy and leadership among our consultant team. If you’d like to find out how AUA Consulting can help your organisation explore the issues discussed in this blog, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Find out more at www.aua.ac.uk/aua-consulting