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Women in HE Conference 2021

What is Good Governance in Higher Education?

In today’s turbulent environment all HE providers need high performing boards that are equipped to determine the strategic course of the organisation, safeguard its sustainability and assure standards.

The effectiveness of a board depends on strong foundations; exhibiting the right culture and behaviours; high-quality information and sound processes with skilled governance professionals; and a deep understanding of stakeholders.

Victoria Holbrook
Higher education governance is complex and evolving. The need to understand what makes a board effective for now and the future, with a growth mindset, is paramount to maintaining HE’s success. While Codes set out the fundamental expectations, all of us must keep striving for governance that is the best it can be to serve students, staff and society well. "

Victoria Holbrook

Assistant Director - Consulting, Governance and Insights, Advance HE

Want to know more about Good Governance?

The information pack that covers what good governance can be contains links to all the resources and content available on this page plus more.

Request a pack

Insight event – what the sector has to say about good HE governance, now and next

This online event provided an opportunity for attendees to hear and discuss feedback from Advance HE following two sector surveys in Spring 2022, and insights from its wider work supporting effective governance.

The surveys – which asked about the future development needs of governors, Chairs and governance professionals, and captured a range of insights into current and changing governance practices – gave a wealth of information about some of the key topics we know Boards are grappling with.

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How executives and non-executives can contribute to the Board

David Langley and Mark Adderley

In this video, Advance HE associates David Langley and Mark Adderley discuss how executives and non-executives can contribute to the Board - and their ideas on what makes an effective Board.

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Framework for Supporting Governing Body Effectiveness Reviews

The framework recognises that every provider’s governing body effectiveness review will be different to that of their peers, and may also vary from their own past reviews. Moreover, individual governing bodies have to consider and decide what type of governing body they aspire to be and will judge their own effectiveness through reviews in this light. The 2020 framework sets out the key factors for consideration of higher education governing body effectiveness, and offers tools (such as an e survey) to support providers when they are conducting their effectiveness reviews.

Access the framework
Governance effectiveness framework wheel
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The Governor Dialogues Project

In 2015 Mary Joyce undertook a governor dialogues project, discussing particular aspects of governance with eight different Governors. In 2018 we created three films which built on these dialogues. The project include contributions from Chris Sayers, Dame Shirley Pearce, Stuart Palmer, Bill Rammell, Sana Iqbal, Irene Birrell and Paul Greatrix. They are intended to prompt discussion and further debate within universities on key governance topics and will be used to support Advance HEs’ governor development programmes.

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Supporting good governance

Find out more about the ways in which we can support good governance through a range of consultancy services.

Find out more
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What is Good Governance reports, publications and resources

Advance HE has curated a number of resources to better understand what good governance means for a higher education provider. These cover guides on codes of governance, governing body effectiveness and research resources and are available to download below.

Codes of Governance

There are two specific codes of governance applying to the UK higher education sector, the Higher Education Code of Governance (the 'CUC Code') and the UK Corporate Code of Governance. This guide outlines what these codes are and their practical application.

Download the guide.

Information to Support the Induction of New Governors

This guide has been written to provide a supporting document for institutions in the induction of new governors or for anyone wanting to understand more about the key elements of being a governor and the governance landscape of higher education.

Download the guide.

A Guide for New Clerks and Secretaries of Governing Bodies of Higher Education Institutions in the UK

This is the second edition of this Guide for governing body clerks either new to HE or new to their role, and updates the first edition produced in 2008. Its specific purposes are: to provide information on the role and responsibilities of the clerk; to identify a basic range of good practice in crucial areas; and to give guidance to clerks on the effectiveness of governance and how it can be enhanced.

Download the guide.

A guide to governor responsibilities

The responsibilities of a governor of a higher education provider can be broad and often dynamic. This handy guide covers academic governance, compliance and regulation, commercial operations, students including international students, risk management, the strategic plan and monitoring performance. 

Download the guide.



Governance briefing notes

These downloadable summaries have been designed to support you in addressing different aspects of governance and can be disseminated as a helpful resource to colleagues who are new to particular areas of governance.

Each draws on the latest thinking and legalisation, providing a helpful guide to re-familiarise yourself with specific issues as they arise.

View the briefing notes

Illustrative Practice Notes

In partnership with the Committee of University Chairs (CUC), we have developed Illustrative Practice Notes on a range of themes to support governors and share practice from governing bodies throughout the UK

View the notes.

More resources, reports and publications

You will find links to more resources, reports and publications in our information pack on what good governance is in higher education.

Request a pack
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Learning from Students' Unions Governance

This podcast from Advance HE looks at lessons to be learned from students’ union governance. Dan Tinkler, Governance Development Manager at Advance HE is joined by Nick Smith, an Advance HE associate and has over 15 years’ experience in support at institutional and students’ union governance and Victoria Aurora Bennett-Salvador, who is is the current President and Chair of the Trustee Board at Birmingham City University Students’ Union.