HEFCW Governance

We need to be confident that the universities we fund are being run as efficiently and effectively as possible to safeguard the public funds we provide and to be assured they are in the best position to secure their long-term sustainability. For this reason we have an interest in the strength and capacity of the higher education (HE) sector’s leadership, governance and management arrangements.

We seek assurance on the adequacy of those arrangements through our various engagements with the HE sector and individual universities, including institutional risk reviews we undertake as part of our institutional engagement arrangements.

We support the governance and management activities of organisations such as the Committee of University Chairs and Advance HE. We also occasionally produce guidance and information materials of our own for governors and senior management in universities.

Responsibilities of the Governing Body

The responsibilities of the Governing Body are set out in the Financial Management Code and the terms and conditions of funding. Annex C of the Financial Management Code provides guidance that the governing body must take into account, along with a checklist for compliance with the Financial Management Code. The responsibilities of the governing body are included throughout the Financial Management Code, and pages 17-25 of the Code set out specific responsibilities for appointing and removing external and internal auditors.

All members of governing bodies are required to comply with the seven principles set out by the Committee on Standards in Public Life and should uphold a high standard of corporate governance.

To help governors to understand the governance arrangements and the role governors will play in ensuring that the required governance standards are achieved, useful information is set out in the Information for Governors Toolkit, below.

Review of the governance arrangements of higher education institutions

In late 2019, we funded Universities Wales to commission a report on the governance arrangements of higher education institutions in Wales. The objective of the review was to enable governors to operate at the leading edge of good corporate governance, in terms of both compliance and boardroom culture. The report is accompanied by a Charter, which sets out the actions for change to further enhance existing governance arrangements. All higher education institutions in Wales have signed up to the Charter, and will implement the accompanying Plan for Action.

Information Toolkit for Governors