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  • The Evolution of the UK HE sector's Committee of University Chairs (CUC)

The Evolution of the UK HE sector's Committee of University Chairs (CUC)

The Higher Education Academy (HEA) is dedicated to improving both the status and quality of teaching in the United Kingdom, championing the professional development of academic (and others with responsibility for supporting the student learning experience) staff throughout the country's higher education institutions and with over 75,000 registered Fellows of the HEA. Good governance of education is crucial to the success of both students within higher education institutions, alongside success of the institutions themselves. At a time when the quest for Teaching Excellence is a global phenomenon, we see effective governance is being right up the agenda in terms of delivering an excellent higher education around the world. Decisions about appropriate strategies, resourcing, financial investment (to include in IT infrastructures), alongside sound risk analysis – are all key concerns in terms of getting the governance infrastructure right. How do we ensure that both collectively and individually, governors are conversant with this landscape, all the current challenges, and the different choices that will need to be made? This was the thrust of the presentation which Professor Stephanie Marshall was invited to deliver.

Professionalization of Governing Boards in the UK Higher Education Sector

Professor Marshall began with an overview into the evolution of the Committee of University Chairs (CUC), the representative body for Chairs of universities in the UK and as such, is able to operate as a collective voice. Besides acting as a support network for Chairs and governing bodies, the CUC strives to help the higher education sector develop the highest standards of governance through a range of activities, to include training workshops for new and experienced chairs and others in governing bodies. It also takes on an advocacy role, when appropriate, on behalf of the sector.

Professor Marshall moved on to talk about the support that exists in the UK for governing bodies in terms of research and guidance, conferences for Chairs, the commissioning of a Governor Development Programme of on-going training, development and networking event, to include training, jointly, for new Chairs and their Vice-Chancellors. She also explained how the Higher Education Code of Governance works and its key regulatory requirements, underpinned by a statement of core values which provide the basis for the way that HE governance is conducted.

Additionally, the CUC commissions research and guidance such as KPIs for Governors, and a "Getting to Grips" series explaining different aspects of university e.g. "Getting to Grips with Research", "Getting to Grips with Teaching and Learning", et cetera.

Last but not least, Professor Marshall explained the importance of ensuring continuity and further evolution within governing boards, for instance how they should be led by an Executive Committee which elects a Chair. For further information, participants were directed to the website of the CUC.

Professor Marshall's speech followed a well-received previous visit to Berlin in 2009 when she addressed the CHE conference about careers in higher education management.