Keeping it in the family ignores public interest (1 of 2)

April 7, 2011

It is understandable that people having personal issues with university governance arrangements might want to keep out those considered ignorant of the context ("Old boys and girls should be handed the boardroom keys", 31 March). However, keeping everything "in the family" is likely to lead to over-protection and encourage self-interest.

The NHS might not be a perfect example because it has had some high-profile and spectacular governance failures over the years, but NHS trusts have what higher education institutions generally lack: proper recruitment, selection and appointment processes for board members, and robust procedures for training, oversight and appraisal.

Perhaps if these were present in higher education, there might well be, heaven forbid, greater exposure of inadequate executives (not that I'm suggesting anything of the sort applies to those featured in your article).

It is all very well to have board members with "the greatest lifelong stake in the institution's reputation and in its protection", but what about the public interest?

Mike Goldstein, West Midlands

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