Good governance is essential for every organisation in the world, but each sector faces its own challenges. Higher Education Boards need to follow the constantly evolving expectations for a modern academic institution.

In 2020, the representative body for the Chairs of UK universities, published a governance framework providing guidance for effective governance. This was intended to support universities in offering the best service for their students and staff.

We’ve put together a summary of the key points of the report:

What Are The Six Main Elements of Good University Governance?

  1. Accountability

Accountability means the governing body is responsible for their own actions and decisions. There is a general expectation that they are transparent and deal openly with any consequences of their activities.

One of the main points of accountability is following the law. The specific legal requirements for universities can vary between regions but, in the UK, this may include the Companies Act. Where members of the governing body are charitable trustees, they must follow not-for-profit governance laws.

  1. Sustainability

Having good ESG practices is absolutely essential for Higher Education institutions, as they work towards a better future. The governing body should establish a clear strategy for development in line with the values of the institution. They should then ensure adequate processes and resources are in place to carry out this plan.

The university must have risk management procedures to deal with any issues which arise. Part of this is establishing strong reporting measures and ensuring a clear, comprehensive audit trail. Sustainability is not a one-time action, but a serious long-term commitment.

  1. Reputation.

Reputation is crucial for universities and the governing body is responsible for upholding this reputation. This means members need to act in a way which is reflective of the university’s values. They should work to establish a culture that promotes consistent values and trustworthy processes.

  1. Equality, inclusivity and diversity.

Universities should take measures to encourage diversity and inclusion. This doesn’t just mean meeting targets for protected characteristics, but ensuring the team has a diverse range of views and perspectives.

First and foremost, it is the law that universities do not discriminate against certain groups in their management. However, more than this, diversity is a benefit for individuals and the institution as a whole. There is no excuse for not taking steps to promote diversity.

  1. Effectiveness.

Good governance involves ensuring internal processes are efficient and consistent. Individuals on the team should be qualified and able to demonstrate their expertise. It is also important to make sure the university’s management structure works cohesively to attain the best results.

The size of the governing body should be proportional to the size of the institution. Efforts should be made to eliminate any unnecessary aspects of the organisational structure. This includes regular reviews of the systems in place to make sure the institution does not stagnate.

  1. Engagement.

Stakeholder engagement is one of the main pillars of good governance. Academic institutions should ensure there are open channels of communication so stakeholders can share any views.

To achieve this, it is important the university takes measures to ensure the streamlined flow of information across the institution. Promoting good governance is a continuous process of maintaining high standards and clear communication.

How Can Convene Help Your Academic Institution?

Convene is an award-winning Board Portal designed to digitise and streamline your meeting processes from start-to-finish. With our comprehensive software, you can ensure your team has the tools to maintain good governance. Our Board Portal is now also available fully integrated with Microsoft Teams so your whole organisation can benefit from productive meetings. Our state-of-the-art features include:

  1. A Document Library with role-based access to ensure your sensitive documents are protected.
  2. A built-in Audit Trail so you can be sure you are compliant with all regulations.
  3. Integrated Video Conferencing so you can make the switch from remote to hybrid working seamlessly, whilst still viewing your Board Pack all on one screen.
  4. Surveys, with the option for anonymity, so you can be sure you are aware of your employees' opinions.
  5. Accessibility Features, including text-to-voice, which makes us the leading accessible Board Portal.

If you’d like to learn more about how Convene can help your organisation achieve better governance, please don’t hesitate to book a demo today!

Lucy Palmer

Written by Lucy Palmer

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