Governors get code

July 25, 1997

BETTER money management and a governors' code of practice will be needed to keep institutions running smoothly, says the report.

The committee recognises that higher education has been through a financially tough few years but says more savings will be needed. It wants institutions to consider ways of extending the academic year and introducing more flexible teaching patterns.

Under a new code of practice for governors, institutions should identify where ultimate authority for decision-making lies. Where there is a court and council, the council should be the ultimate decision-making body (Rec 54).

The code should also ensure governing bodies are balanced and appointed on merit by nominations committees. Governors should include a majority of lay members and representatives drawn from students and staff.

No governing body member should serve for more than two terms of between three and four years each unless they also hold office. Nor should anyone chair a governing body for more than two terms (Rec 55). No governing body should exceed 25 members.

Every institution should be able to draw on information and advice from a non-decision-making body drawn from outside organisations which interact with the university.

To qualify for funding, institutions should introduce five-yearly management reviews assessing participation by under-represented groups, staff development, relations with external organisations, size and effectiveness of the governing body and arrangements for making academic awards in the institutions' name (Rec 57).

In the medium term, funding and representative bodies should develop common performance indicators for institutions with similar characteristics (Rec 58) and benchmarks to be used in these reviews, allowing comparisons between institutions with similar characteristics (rec. 58).

The committee supports Lord Nolan's views on student complaints and whistleblowing.

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