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.
We engage strategically with institutions to:
- understand, and be comfortable with, their strategic direction
- assure ourselves that the university is sustainable
- contribute to our understanding of the overall sustainability of higher education in Wales
- enhance each university’s understanding of Welsh Government and HEFCW priorities, and
- allow us to meet our statutory responsibilities in advising the Welsh Government on the funding needs of the higher education sector, and on other matters relating to the development of higher education in Wales
In all of these, we seek to assure ourselves that universities are making proper use of public funds, are meeting their statutory obligations and are having due regard for Welsh Government priorities.
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.