A new Code of Governance for Independent Providers of Higher Education

A new Code of Governance for Independent Providers of Higher Education

16 September 2021

Today Independent Higher Education (IHE) has released a new and more flexible Code of Governance (the Code) for independent providers of higher education.

Code of Governance for Independent Providers of HE

IHE has worked with its membership and the sector to develop the Code which is designed to support institutions to be effective and accountable in a new higher education landscape – one that is focused on new high-quality forms of provision, digital learning, wellbeing and more inclusive organisations.

This Code, which outlines ten principles, has been produced for use by independent providers of higher education with support from Shakespeare Martineau a leading full service law firm that supports over 100 further and higher education providers. Independent providers’ governance arrangements are often different from those adopted by traditional universities and colleges and the Code is tailored to the diverse contexts in which these providers operate – be they micro companies or SMEs, charities or multi-national businesses, pathway providers, subject specialists, OfS registered or not.

Dr Roxanne Stockwell, Chair of IHE’s Board, said:

“I am pleased that IHE has used its leadership role to develop this code.  It is a testament to the growth and maturity of both our organisation and the independent higher education sector as a whole. Three years into the English sector’s new regulatory framework, and with long-term transformations taking place in how we learn, we believe it is vital to strengthen governance for existing and new providers.”

Carmai Pestell, Registrar, TEDI-London, said:

“We have found the discussions with other independent higher education providers and the process of developing the Code immensely valuable. Effective governance is vital for any higher education provider, and the role of boards has never been more important as we enter a period of significant change across our sector in relation to student expectations, labour markets, and in the role that institutions play in their local communities, nationally and globally.”

Smita Jamdar, Partner and Head of Education, Shakespeare Martineau said:

“The higher education landscape is becoming more complex.  Assuming that a ‘one-size-fits-all’ governance model is no longer a viable proposition for a flexible and agile higher education sector.  What is needed is a recognition that good governance matters whatever the institutional context and provider’s particular circumstances.”

IHE will launch the Code with their partners Shakespeare Martineau at an online briefing on Thursday 16 September 2021 at 09:30. The briefing will outline the purpose of the Code as well as the forthcoming programme of work to develop supplementary guidance. It will hear from a range of institutions about their experience of adopting and applying the Code, including the Academy of Contemporary Music, the Dyson Institute of Engineering and Technology and the British Academy of Jewellery. You can register for the event here.

The ten principles of the Code of Governance for Independent Providers of Higher Education are:

  1. Clarity: Every provider must establish an appropriate governance framework through which decisions about the organisation’s short, medium and long term needs and objectives are made, with a clear primary decision-making or governing body (the board), and clear division of responsibility between governance and management.
  2. Collective Responsibility: The board should be an effective, primary decision-making body with collective responsibility for the long-term success of the provider and for determining the organisational objectives, values, culture and strategy necessary to deliver that long-term success.
  3. Academic Governance: There should be an appropriate framework in place for academic governance and the management of academic risk which ensures that academic standards are maintained and quality is enhanced.
  4. Risk Management: The board should have oversight of key policies and procedures, and should have overall responsibility for risk management and internal control.
  5. Size and Skill: The board should be of an appropriate size and composition and have the requisite skills to discharge its responsibilities under this Code.
  6. Effectiveness: The board and any committees should discharge their duties in an effective and efficient way.
  7. Integrity: Board members should discharge their duties to a high standard of professionalism, act with integrity, and conduct themselves openly and transparently, with appropriate regard to confidentiality.
  8. Remuneration: Remuneration of board members and senior staff at the provider should be appropriate and designed to support the strategy and long-term sustainable success of the provider.
  9. Fair Reporting: External reporting should be fair and balanced, and minutes of board meetings (and key committees) should be published unless they relate to confidential matters.
  10. External and Student Engagement: There should be an appropriate level of dialogue between the board and the provider’s shareholders and other stakeholders, and appropriate engagement with students.
  • On 16th September 2021