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Effectiveness review of council 2017/18

A full review of the effectiveness of Council was undertaken in 2017/18 in accordance with the timescale set by Council.


1. Background

1.1 A full review of the effectiveness of Council was undertaken in 2017/18 in accordance with the timescale set by Council: i.e. at three year intervals, alternately an interim then full review.

1.2 The Committee of University Chairs (CUC) published a Higher Education Code of Governance in December 2014 of the key factors that influence governing body effectiveness. The Code includes the expectation that any Effectiveness Review of Council will use assessment against the Code as its starting point (see element 7.11). The Code can be found at:


2.1 An independent consultant, Halpin Partnership, was appointed in accordance with the University’s procurement framework, overseen by the University’s Head of Procurement; the group assessing tenders and deciding whom to appoint comprised Ruth Foreman (chair), Tim Ford and Mark Ricketts (Director of Process Improvement, former Head of Internal Audit).

3. SCOPE The scope is set out below:

3.1 The review should evaluate compliance with the CUC Code. It should assess the effectiveness of Council and its sub-committees and make recommendations for improvement where necessary and the relationship between Council and Court. It will consider the functioning and composition of the Remuneration Committee which sets remuneration for senior staff, as raised in recent discussions at University Court and Council, along with other areas of interest from the CUC Code, or raised by stakeholders. It will highlight best practice in the higher education (HE) sector and provide an analysis of how current and proposed arrangements compare with the HE sector.

3.2 The review should focus in particular on the following:

  • To review the effectiveness of Council as currently organised and its ability to support the University in the delivery of its Strategy 2016-2021, in particular in relation to the CUC Code of Governance but having regard to good governance practice in other sectors also
  • To consider progress on implementation of the actions arising from the review against the CUC Code of Governance in November 2016
  • To review the composition and organisation of Council and its Committees
  • To review in particular the membership and operation of the Remuneration Committee
  • To consult with and obtain the views of members of Council, the Executive, the Students’ Union, Trades Unions, Court and other stakeholders as the consultant thinks fit
  • To review the effectiveness of the relationship between Council and the Executive and the quality of support and constructive challenge provided.
  • To seek the views of Council Committees on their own effectiveness and related issues
  • To review the effectiveness of interactions between Council and Senate
  • To review the relationship between Council and Court
  • To consider the effectiveness of the Key Performance Indicators used and Benchmark institutions
  • To evaluate Council and Committee documentation (such as the Statement of Primary Responsibilities, scheme of delegation, committee terms of reference, relevant University Statutes and Ordinances, Council and committee agendas and minutes)
  • To reflect on Council’s full membership and skillsets, propose the best means of capitalising on these and identify any gaps to be filled through future appointments
  • To make recommendations to enhance the effectiveness of Council and its committees.

3.3 In relation to the Remuneration Committee, the review shall consider the membership and workings of the Remuneration Committee of Council including its accountability and transparency and training/ support for its members. It will take appropriate account of: - guidance provided by the Higher Education Funding Council for England; - best practice in the HE sector, including guidance from the Committee of University Chairs (Practice Note 1); - further CUC guidance: A Fair Pay Code is expected to be produced in draft by 31 December 2017 and to be finalised by 31 March 2018; - the context of the proposed governing body responsibilities outlined in the recent consultation documents published by DfE on behalf of the new OfS. Given that the OfS will exist early in 2018, there should be an emerging picture of its expectations of governing bodies over the coming months; - input from stakeholders in the various processes, including staff and student representatives; - current and emerging best practice and legislation concerning remuneration in the private sector wherever relevant to the HE context.

3.4 The review will also consider any other material issues raised during the consultation with members of Council and other key stakeholders.


The effectiveness review report was presented to Council in May 2018.

M G W Humphriss
University Secretary
August 2018

See further details of the Halpin Partnership review.

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