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Governor Competencies Map

Designed as a practical tool to support board members with mapping their own individual progression and development needs.

Higher education institutions are complex and operate in a fast-moving policy environment combined with a level of public and political scepticism about the role higher education has in society, this creates a set of challenges for governing boards and individual members to overcome. To undertake their role effectively, governors need to understand:

  • The complexities of the external and internal environment including changing political, policy and regulatory landscape
  • The unique mission, values and character of the institution and its strategy, as well as its legal structure
  • The responsibilities of a governor in the context of the two points above, guided by whatever codes of practice and governance the institution subscribes to

The Advance HE Governor Competencies Map has been designed as a practical tool to support board members with mapping their own individual progression and development needs as well as that of the board as a whole.

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The Governor Competencies Map

The Governor Competencies Map contains sixteen core competencies across three key areas that we believe governors should seek to have within the context of higher education. The competencies map has been designed understanding the complex policy landscape and built on the universal principles of good governance that can be applied by all boards in HE regardless of location, type of institution or regulatory environment that is operated in, to this extent these competencies are universal for good higher education governance. The three core areas (dimensions) will all have a conformance and a performance lens through which to review them and getting the balance right will be important so that the governing body is able to pay attention to the compliance, assurance and audit aspects of the role as well as the responsibilities of strategic oversight and value creation, including strategic risk, risk appetite, challenging and supporting executive decision making.


Governor Competencies Map screenshot
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Core areas:

  1. Behaviours and Values

The actions and mind set of individuals culminating in a collective board culture.  Some of this will be guided by ethical codes of practice (conformance) and some will be guided by the ability for the governing body to challenge and ground their recommendations/decisions in the interests and values of the organisation (performance). How governor’s respond shapes behaviour and drives culture.

  1. Knowledge

Each governors understanding and application of relevant information to effectively perform their role.

  1. Skills

The particular set of expertise that each governor brings to the role contributing to an overall knowledge of board skills.

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How it should be used

The Governor Competencies Map should be used in addition to any internal measures and development plans that are currently in use but can support the following key areas:

  • Undertaking self-assessment from Governors to identify any development needs or opportunities to expand knowledge or to be used to support any development processes for Governors to undertake with the Chair of the Board.
  • Used as a tool to support Chairs and Governors with individual annual reviews
  • Board evaluation and review to provide a base level of training needs alongside skills matrices
  • Recruitment, selection and succession planning for boards and committees

The framework is designed to showcase key resources and further support that governors can use as well as opportunities for further training and development with Advance HE mapped against each core competency. Please note that certain resources will be restricted to governors whose institutions are members of Advance HE. It is less about understanding where a governor may have developed a competency on a scale, for example compliant to excellent, but more about providing a pathway and necessary support to develop as a governor and a board overall.

Access the Governor Competencies Map

Access the Map

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These are designed to provide an easy way for governors, university secretaries and clerks and all those supporting or interested in governance in HE to keep abreast of news likely to affect their work, blogs, as well as support including upcoming governance events and useful resources and publications.

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