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Living Black at University

May 13, 2021

Project Background and Information

The killing of George Floyd in May 2020 had a profound effect on the understanding of institutional racism in the developed world. Within Unite Students it empowered Black employees to speak about their experiences, which in turn challenged Unite Students to accelerate their diversity and inclusion work and improve their understanding of how to lead such change at a senior level.

Both the purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) sector and university accommodation teams are predominantly led by white people, as evidenced by the lack of diversity in senior leadership teams and in professional bodies. This has led Unite Students to question how well this sector, serves the needs of Black students.

Ultimately this report will generate practical recommendations for private PBSA providers and universities to help them to understand the experiences of Black students in accommodation, address any areas of institutional racism and equip them to provide an equitable and inclusive experience.

Why is the research taking place?

Unite Students commissioned this research to draw together the data that they have already collected about the experiences of ethnic minority students, and to make sense of it through in-depth qualitative work that will highlight the experiences of Black students within student accommodation (university halls and private PBSA). The research aims to allow Black student voices to be heard, and to capture the experiences and reflections of Black employees.

What is the definition of ‘Black’ in this research?

The experiences of students are not homogenous. An example of homogenisation would be the term BME (Black and Minority Ethnic) or BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) which groups together those who are non-white. Further, in much research, such as that by the Equality Challenge Unit (ECU, which has now merged with other organisations to make up AdvanceHE), the terms BME or BAME are used exclusively to refer to Home/EU students and exclude international students. The experiences of Black students differ from those of Asian students, mixed-race students and others not racialised as white. Further, the experiences of international students are important to this research.

Self-identification is not particularly helpful when dealing with social constructs as we are asking individuals to use classifications they had no part in developing and may not ascribe to. Further, self-identification imposes a responsibility on those from already marginalised groups to work out where they fit within a social construct. It is society, rather than the individual that racialises people, and for those defined as ‘Black’ it is a term that identifies a group of people who have been racialised as Black, not those who self-identify as such. The rapper Akala, for example, discusses his mixed Scottish and Jamaican ancestry but holds that from an early age it was his blackness that meant he was also racialised by others - be they school teachers, peers, or the police - as ‘Black’. This is reminiscent of the ‘one drop’ rule in Jim Crow legislation. In this report the term Black is therefore used to include all those who are racialised as Black, and the participants were asked to identify their racial identity not as a marker of self-identification but as a reporting of how they are identified by others.

Why are other people from different ethnicities being consulted in this research?

For the survey, it is important that we have something to compare Black students’ experiences against and a baseline of all student experiences. Therefore the survey needs to go to as many students from as many backgrounds as possible and then the Black student voice will be isolated in the analysis, whilst being able to compare it with the full data set. Comparing the data from all students with the data from the Black students will highlight the differences in student experience more clearly.

Who will be undertaking the review?

Halpin Partnership (Halpin) is a specialist higher education consultancy, drawing on a team of Consulting Fellows who have a breadth of experience and expertise across diverse fields in the education, public and corporate sectors. For this project we have a skilled Black-led research team.

Halpin was appointed by Unite Students in March 2021 to conduct an independent review of Black students' experience of accommodation, following an open and competitive tendering process. Biographies of the review team are available below.

Following a period of open consultation, the review team will present its findings and recommendations to Unite Students later in the year.

Halpin’s response to frequently asked questions about the review can be found below.

External support from partners

If you are an organisation or institution and would like to express your interest in supporting this research by promoting this website to students and staff so they can fill out the survey and take part in focus groups and interviews, please contact [email protected]

For more information about this project please read this document.

Review Timeline

April

  • Introductory Meeting with Steering Group
  • Information Request
  • Literature Review

May

  • Surveys Disseminated

June

  • Surveys Close
  • Discussion Groups with Students
  • Interviews with Students and Staff
  • Analysis of Findings and Development of Recommendations

July

  • Research Peer-Reviewed
  • Findings and recommendations to be presented to Steering Group

August onwards

  • Final Report Dissemination
  • Implementation of recommendations

Review Consultation

The review consultation period will remain open from May to June.

Virtual Discussion Group sessions for students will be held in June via Microsoft Teams. Dates are to be confirmed and we will update this page in due course.

Should you wish to attend a session, please send your name and preferred session to [email protected] Spaces will be limited so we please ask that you only book a space on a session if you intend to attend. We also request that you only attend one session.

Share your comments

A survey has been set up for staff and students to complete, which anyone is welcome to take part in.

  • STUDENTS: Please fill in the survey here.
  • STAFF: Please fill in the survey here.

Students who fill in the survey can enter a prize draw to win a £500 gift voucher.

For the student focus groups we are offering £25 gift cards to participants.

Halpin is keen to gather as much information as possible. If you are unable to attend a virtual focus group session or you would prefer to send comments regarding this topic with the Halpin Review team via email, please do so via [email protected] or use the comment box below.

Please note, all comments are confidential to the Halpin Review team. We will record the names of interviewees and focus group attendees for the purposes of scheduling. Any comments included in our final reports will not be attributed to any individuals.

Review Team

There are several members of the Halpin team working on the research project. Each team member will have a specific focus or area that they will be covering and more details on their remit and biographies are below.

‘Teleola Cartwright, Consulting Fellow (Lead)

Olorunteleola (‘Teleola) Cartwright has worked in race equality since graduating with her LLB in law in 2013. In 2015, she began focusing on race and education, working first supporting those affected by school exclusions before moving into the higher education sector. ‘Teleola has experience auditing public sector and educational institutions, leading multi-agency projects on inclusive education and designing and delivering CPD on inclusive teaching, learning and assessment practice. She is respected as an expert on race inclusion in higher education and this has led to her giving conference presentations, including as an invited keynote; providing evidence to the Parliamentary Education Sub-committee; and co-authoring a journal article on decolonising the curriculum. ‘Teleola was BAME Attainment Project Lead at the Faculty of Business and Law, University of Northampton, and prior to that a Project Coordinator at Wellingborough Black Consortium.

Osaro Otobo, Consulting Fellow (Project Manager)

Experienced in leading changes in student democracy and governance and also in student equality, diversity and inclusion. Osaro studied at the University of Hull for her undergraduate degree in Biomedical Science and a master’s degree in Cancer Imaging. She was elected for 3 successive years to work in the best interest of students at Hull; she was a postgraduate student trustee and a two-term President at Hull University Students’ Union. From lived experiences, she created the Make Diversity Count campaign which is calling for all UK organisations to have a robust discrimination policy which sets out how they deal with complaints of discrimination more effectively and transparently. She believes in ensuring all students, especially those from liberation and widening participation groups, are supported effectively throughout their education journey. She also believes that student voices should be at the heart of an evidence-based approach to implementing change and getting meaningful long-lasting results in the higher education sector. Osaro recently conducted a research project for Halpin on the impact of Black Lives Matter on universities in the UK with a report released and a webinar on the findings taking place earlier in November 2020.

Shakira Martin, Consulting Fellow (Advisory)

Head of Student Experience at Rose Bruford College, and founder of Founder of The Class of 2020 #DigiProm. Outgoing National President of the National Union of Students UK, representing 7 million students across Further and Higher Education, most recently successful leading on an organisational turnaround strategy. Shakira pioneered NUS's Poverty Commission, shining a light on the barriers still facing working-class people accessing FE and HE. She is one of only a handful of people to hold the post from an FE background, and the first black woman to have held the role in NUS's 96-year history. Shakira was undertaking a teaching qualification when she began her career in student politics. She was elected the Vice President Further Education at NUS in 2015 and represented FE students in this role for two years prior to Heflin President. Shakira's campaigning credentials are well established with major wins under her belt on student representation, funding, and access. She makes regular local and national media appearances and is passionate about equality in education in terms of access and outcomes.

Susie Hills, Joint CEO & Co-Project Director

Susie supports HEI leaders and teams, often during times of significant change. Susie has worked with a number of clients on customised and high-profile reviews with HE clients and sector bodies including UCL, the University of Bath, UUK and QAA. With a background in senior-level fundraising, she has since worked with universities, schools and educational institutes on assessments that have led to transformational campaigns. She is a champion of best practice governance and is responsible for developing Halpin’s cross-sector governance expertise. She has led high-profile, complex reviews of governance processes which have informed strategy and led to operational change. Known for her thought-leadership, Susie is in demand as a conference speaker and writes regular commentary for the higher education sector. Susie is a champion of best practice in governance and is responsible for developing Halpin’s cross-sector governance expertise. She has also worked with dozens of clients in the charity and education sectors in the UK, Ireland, Middle East and USA to achieve fundraising goals, develop fundraising operations and deliver leadership training. Susie was listed in 2019 as one of ‘50 Leading Lights’ by the FT in recognition of her work on kindness in leadership, and shortlisted as one of ‘40 Women to Watch’ in the 2021 Digital Women Awards.

Shaun Horan, Joint CEO & Co-Project Director

Shaun Horan has over 20 years of senior-level university management, reputation, income generation and external relations. He draws on a strong legal background, advising some of the leading names in higher education and nonprofits and overseeing complex projects and assessments at critical periods spanning fundraising, strategy, and governance. He has a wealth of leadership experience. Shaun has a deep knowledge of the UK higher education sector and in particular an understanding of the politics and sensitivities in the Irish HE sector. He is valued by his clients for his ability to listen, analyse, and find ways through multifaceted problems. Shaun has delivered governance and strategic projects with universities including Bath, Nottingham, Sussex, Manchester, Maynooth, Queen’s University Belfast and Dublin City University.

Dr Nick Cartwright, Consulting Fellow (Peer Review)

Dr Nick Cartwright (PhD, MPhil, PGCert, LLB, SFHEA) started lecturing in 2000 and is currently a Senior Lecturer in Law at the University of Northampton. Nick is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and researches education and inclusion from a critical race theory standpoint. Nick’s research argues that racism and patriarchy are endemic within HE and his recommendations on how to decolonise academia have led to articles in academic and policy-focused publications, as well as by-lines in WonkHE, HuffPost, The Guardian and The Independent. Outside of academia, Nick has worked with the United Nations in Panama, Austria and Croatia developing and promoting their Education 4 Justice (E4J) initiative which promotes a culture of lawfulness and justice through education. Nick advocates that whilst education does create and perpetuate oppression and inequality it can, and should, promote justice and equality.

Useful Information

As part of the review, Halpin will be drawing on some useful higher education sector specific resources and journal articles relating to the experiences of Black students:

Mental Health Support Information

If you are a student or member of staff in need of mental health support please reach out to your university and students’ union for guidance and resources.

Here is some information and resources you can access for free:

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How was Halpin Partnership selected?

A public tender process was undertaken.

2. What experience does Halpin have of research projects?

Information on the review team and their experience can be found above.

3. What should I do if I have questions about the review and/or would like to share my views?

The review consultation period will remain open until June. Consultations will include interviews and discussion groups. To ensure confidentiality throughout the process, a dedicated email address has been set up where you can send your comments and questions directly to Halpin: [email protected]

Virtual discussion groups with be held via Microsoft Teams. We will update the times and dates in due course. To attend a session please send your name and your preferred session time and date to [email protected]

4. Is the review independent?

The Halpin review team is entirely independent of Unite Students as well as other providers and universities that may take part in this research. The review team has no conflicts of interest in undertaking this work and the majority of the senior management team at Unite Students is not involved in the review in any capacity, other than as potential interviewees.

The review team’s points of contact at Unite Students are the Steering Group – [email protected] The review team has complete access to relevant documentation and information will be provided as requested.

The Halpin review team will provide our findings to the Steering Group in June 2021 and will undertake a process of fact-checking. This will be to ensure that we have not included factually incorrect information or missed any key points of information or evidence. Any changes that are made after that point will be made at the discretion of the Halpin review team, based on the information and evidence provided and after full and careful consideration.

5. Will the findings be published, and if so when?

Halpin’s findings and recommendations will be presented by Unite Students later in the year. Unite Students is anticipating publishing the report in full, as well as disseminating it in various forms for different audiences,

6. Will the review consider best practice from outside the sector?

The review team includes experts with experience both in and outside of the higher education sector. This wider experience and knowledge will help to inform the recommendations.

7. What is the process for the review?

The review process includes a wide variety of activity to ensure engagement with staff and students across the UK. The review activity started in April with the consultation phase starting in May and ending in June.

8. Will you share data and consultation findings with Unite Students during the review process?

Sharing consultation findings is not part of the review methodology. Halpin will provide analysis of findings and recommendations, but our notes will not be provided to the Unite Students.

All data will be destroyed at the end of the contract between Halpin and Unite Students, in line with our Data Protection policy as detailed here.

9. How will you ensure anonymity and confidentiality?

We will record the names of interviewees and discussion group attendees for the purposes of scheduling. All comments made are strictly in confidence and our reports will not attribute any comments to any names.

10. How can the Halpin review team be contacted?

The Halpin team can be contacted via [email protected]

Halpin Partnership has a trusted relationship with its clients and operates with sensitivity, discretion and confidentiality. We do not comment on client projects to third parties and will not be making any comments on the research undertaken for Unite Students.

For any media enquiries, please contact the Unite Students team via [email protected]

If you have questions regarding Halpin and the services we offer please visit our main website at www.halpinpartnership.com or contact [email protected]

Contacts

If you have any questions, please contact a member of the research team:

Susie Hills, CEO and Co-founder (Project Director) [email protected]

Shaun Horan, CEO and co-Founder (Project Director, cover until May 2021) [email protected]

Osaro Otobo, Consulting Fellow (Project Manager) [email protected]

‘Teleola Cartwright, Consulting Fellow [email protected]

Editorial Note

Throughout our work, we have chosen to capitalise ‘Black’ but not ‘white’. This decision was based on advice sought, and further reading supports this.

Rethinking university internationalisation strategies: the EDI angle

May 12, 2021

This article draws on a report – UK Universities’ Global Engagement Strategies: Time for a rethink? – published by Vicky Lewis Consulting in April 2021.

Having reviewed 134 UK university strategic plans (all current in late 2020), I’d like to share a number of observations about the profile of global engagement:

  • An international dimension is prominent in 76 per cent of institutional strategies.
  • Recently published strategic plans tend to be more values-led than older ones: many emphasise their institution’s commitment to sustainable development, addressing global challenges, climate action, social justice, and equality, diversity and inclusion.
  • Despite rhetoric about making a positive global contribution, international success still tends to be measured using traditional, profile-building metrics such as international student enrolments or position in global rankings.
  • A number of the strategic plans fall into classic strategy traps, such as not defining the precise challenges the university faces; trying to include all aspects of internationalisation without prioritising; and letting others (e.g., ranking organisations or peer institutions) define success, rather than pursuing what makes them distinctive.

The pandemic has caused us all to step back and consider our priorities. It has offered us a structural break to rethink institutional approaches to internationalisation. Interviews with senior sector stakeholders, supplemented by a review of recent conferences, webinars and publications, suggest a number of key themes that UK higher education institutions should consider as they review their strategies.

One of those themes is ‘Internationalisation for All’, which intersects in interesting ways with the equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) agenda.

Internationalisation should, by definition, be inclusive. At its heart is a recognition that all aspects of university mission benefit from the diverse perspectives of students and staff with different cultural backgrounds and experiences. However, synergies between the international office and EDI teams are often overlooked.

What happens when you overlay an institutional commitment to EDI onto your internationalisation strategy?

Equality (and Equity)

Few would dispute that international students and staff at UK universities should have access to the support they need in order to thrive. However, just as is the case with domestic students and staff from disadvantaged or minority backgrounds, that support may need to be tailored in order to have the desired impact. For example, specialist employability and careers support is needed to prepare international students for post-graduation employment either in the UK (taking advantage of the new Graduate Immigration Route) or back in their home country.

Similarly, when we look at offering an international or intercultural experience to all students, it is clear that thinking about this solely in terms of studying abroad (or other forms of outbound mobility) largely restricts the opportunity to those who are wealthy and do not have work or caring responsibilities. The pandemic has shown us different ways, often facilitated by digital technology, to make intercultural experiences (including virtual exchange or collaborative international online learning) accessible to all.

Global accessibility can also be enhanced via transnational education programmes delivered online or, with a partner, closer to a student’s home. Making a strategic decision to expand in-country provision in key locations can help the nation or region with capacity building and skills development as well as reducing brain drain. At an individual level, it can open up transformative new opportunities for an international education to less wealthy families.

Diversity

In the context of internationalisation, we are used to aiming for diversity within the student body. We know the benefits that diverse perspectives can bring to the classroom (and to the wider student experience). The need for diversification is reinforced by the desire to reduce risk. Bearing in mind all the factors beyond an institution’s control (from geopolitical tensions to global health crises), it is important not to be over-reliant on a relationship with any single country.

But how far are institutions prepared to go in order to diversify? One of my interviewees pointed out that you have to be deliberate to make this happen, suggesting that universities might ‘put their money where their mouth is’ and allocate a share of the income from international student fees to scholarships. The same person noted that ‘if diversification really is important, scholarships are such a crucial tool. It reinforces the EDI agenda and goals of widening understanding and making a safer world. It is about recognising the wider inequalities in the world and addressing these. It is not wholly altruistic: it would drive more students to the UK in the long run’.

Inclusion

Being genuinely inclusive in the development of global engagement strategy could potentially lead to a much more distinctive strategy, that truly reflects the values of the university and its wider communities.

In the UK, we need to be aware that our approach to internationalisation is informed and constrained by Anglocentric traditions and ‘Global North’ viewpoints. As one interviewee observed, ‘you need to include people from the Global South who can spot problematic notions’. Those leading the strategy should be reflective and actively challenge stereotypes.

The student voice must also be heard and reflected in the strategy (and provide feedback on its implementation) in order for it to be transformative, not just ‘more of the same’.

What next?

There are many other ways in which the EDI and internationalisation agendas can fruitfully intersect. Institutions for whom both are important need to challenge themselves to explore that intersection so that – rather than continuing along their separate tracks – they can be developed in tandem and provide mutual reinforcement.

Dr Vicky Lewis is a Consulting Fellow for Halpin, the home of experts in higher education strategy.

New Global Strategies Report

Apr 27, 2021

This article was originally published on Vicky Lewis Consulting's website here.

New Global Strategies Report... how it came to be.

It’s a while since I posted a blog. The research project that I mentioned in my November and December blogs grew into something much larger than I anticipated and I have been busy working on that.

Given my long-standing fascination with the evolution of HEI international strategies, particularly within the UK context, I started out thinking it would be interesting to take the temperature of the sector in late 2020 and see which aspects of global engagement were being prioritised in university strategies.

I enjoyed building a picture of the state of internationalisation and global engagement within UK universities. It was noticeable that the older, still current strategies (published back in 2013 and 2014) tend to use the terms ‘international’ and ‘internationalisation’, whereas the more recent ones are more likely to use the term ‘global’. Beyond terminology, there were changes in content which demonstrate how strategies are very much products of the global and national context at the time they are developed.

Having completed this research, it struck me that the really interesting question is what the next, post-pandemic generation of international strategies will look like; and how they may differ from those that came before them.

Phase two of my research

So I decided to conduct a second phase of research, exploring that question and related issues by interviewing (during February and March 2021) 12 senior sector stakeholders (all with responsibility for or an interest in institutional strategies for internationalisation). The interview findings were supplemented and contextualised via a review of some of the numerous webinars, virtual conferences, reports and articles that have bubbled up since the pandemic started.

The resulting report

The report that I produced is therefore focused largely on future global engagement strategies, though it takes as its starting point a snapshot of what current strategies look like.

I hope that it will be useful to those who are responsible for – or involved in – developing or reviewing their institution’s strategy for global engagement in a post-pandemic landscape.

The report is broken down into three parts:

  • Context for this report: why now?
  • Current state of play: tensions and traps
  • Next generation strategies: where are we heading?

The final part is the longest. It comprises a number of chapters, each of which focuses on one of the key (interrelated) themes that emerged from the interviews.

Some of those themes sit at a more philosophical level:

  • Considering the ‘why’: drivers and differentiation.

Others are still quite ‘big picture’, but a bit more concrete:

  • Addressing global – and local – challenges
  • Negotiating new global dynamics.

There are two priority areas of focus at a more tactical level:

  • Rethinking partnership models
  • ‘Internationalisation for All’ in a digital world.

And there are two themes that are primarily about enabling the changes needed at operational level:

  • Alternative operating practices
  • New ways of measuring success.

Download options

The full report can be downloaded from the page on my website entitled Global Strategies Report – April 2021.

That page also includes download buttons for the Executive Summary and for an Overview of key questions for HEIs to ask (as they are developing and consulting on their strategy).

Dr Vicky Lewis is a Consulting Fellow for Halpin, the home of experts in higher education strategy.

University of Manchester Governance Review Info

Apr 13, 2021

Governance at the University of Manchester

The governance arrangements at universities identify responsibilities and accountabilities. The governance framework at the University is set by the University’s Charter, Statutes, Ordinances, Standing Orders and Regulations.

The Board of Governors is the governing body of the University. It carries the ultimate responsibility for:

a) our overall strategic direction

b) the management of our finances, property and affairs generally, including the employment arrangements for all staff.

Senate reports to the Board and acts as the University’s principal academic authority, under the ultimate authority of the Board. It is responsible for:

a) The promotion of research;

b) The regulation and monitoring of standards in teaching;

c) The regulation of discipline of students;

More information on the governance framework at the University of Manchester is available here. From this page, you will be able to see all key governance documents and further details of the Board, Senate and key University committees.

Why is the review taking place?

Good governance is crucial to institutional success.

The Committee of University Chairs (CUC) publish a Higher Education Code of Governance (last updated September 2020) – which states “Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) must conduct a regular, full and robust review of governance effectiveness with some degree of independent input. This will provide assurance to internal and external stakeholders and allow a mechanism to focus on improvement and chart progress towards achieving any outstanding actions arising from the last effectiveness review. It is recommended this review takes place every three years.”

The University last conducted an external effectiveness review focused primarily on the Board and its committees in 2017. Therefore, a review in 2021 is timely: the review will be more wide-ranging than the previous version, reviewing the overall effectiveness of governance, including the role of and interaction between the Board of Governors, its committees, Senate and senior management

Who will be undertaking the review?

Halpin Partnership (Halpin) is a specialist higher education consultancy, drawing on a team of Consulting Fellows who have a breadth of experience and expertise across diverse fields in the education, public and corporate sectors.

Halpin was appointed by the University of Manchester in February 2021 to conduct an independent review of the effectiveness of the University’s governance arrangements, following an open and competitive tendering process. Biographies of the review team are available below.

Following a period of open consultation, the review team will present its findings and recommendations to the Board of Governors and Senate later in the year.

University support for Halpin’s activities will be through the Governance Office:

Halpin’s response to frequently asked questions about the review can be found below.

Review Timeline

March

March-May

  • Surveys to be sent to Board and Senate and a wider short staff survey
  • Desk review
  • Interviews
  • Observations of Board, Senate and committee meetings
  • Discussion Groups with Senate, staff and students

June-July

  • Analysis of findings and development of recommendations
  • Meeting with Nominations Committee
  • Findings and recommendations to be presented to Senate (for comment) and Board (for approval)

August onwards

  • Implementation of recommendations

Review Consultation

The review consultation period will remain open from mid-April to late-May.

Virtual Discussion Group sessions for members of Senate, staff and students will be held in April and May via Microsoft Teams. Dates are to be confirmed and we will update this page in due course.

Should you wish to attend a session, please send your name and preferred session to [email protected] Spaces will be limited so we please ask that you only book a space on a session if you intend to attend. We also request that you only attend one session only.

Share your comments

Halpin is keen to hear from all corners of the University. If you are unable to attend a virtual focus group session or you would prefer to send comments regarding the governance arrangements at Manchester with the Halpin Review team via email, please do so via [email protected]

Please note, all comments are confidential to the Halpin Review team. We will record the names of interviewees and focus group attendees for the purposes of scheduling. Any comments included in our final reports will not be attributed to any individuals.

Review Team

There are several members of the Halpin team working on this particular effectiveness review. Each team member will have a specific focus or area that they will be covering in this review. More details on their remit and biographies are below.

Hanif Barma, Consulting Fellow – Finance, Audit and Risk

Hanif has extensive experience of board and committee reviews, bringing a strong understanding of board culture and dynamics, board information and board processes. He is a Founder-partner of Board Alchemy, a specialist governance consultancy and is a former Director at PwC and Founder-partner at Independent Audit.

A Chartered Accountant with an MBA from London Business School, Hanif specialises in audit, finance and risk functions. He is a former Chair (and earlier Audit Committee Chair) of St Christopher’s Fellowship, a former member of the Audit & Risk Committee at City, University of London and an Honorary Visiting Fellow of corporate governance at Cass Business School. Following our work with the London Institute of Banking & Finance, Hanif was invited to join their Audit Committee

For Halpin, Hanif has recently conducted governance reviews at the University of Bath, London Institute of Banking & Finance and Quality Assurance Agency.

Selena Bolingbroke, Consulting Fellow – Governance Effectiveness

Selena is a senior leader in higher education, with experience in central and local government in roles that have combined her interests in education, enterprise and regeneration.

Selena is a former Pro Vice-Chancellor at the University of East London, where she led on Strategic Planning and External Development and established the Centre of Excellence for Women’s Entrepreneurship. More recently, Selena was the Lead for External Engagement and Strategic Development at Goldsmiths, University of London, delivering their Civic Engagement strategy and gained over £2m of external funding to support a new Enterprise Hub.

Selena is an Associate Director of MetaValue, a consultancy practice focused on supporting entrepreneurial growth strategies in the not-for-profit sector, a Non-Executive Director of Wonkhe, a former Chair of two College Corporation Boards (Lewisham and Barking & Dagenham) a School MAT Governor, and former Chair of Cyclopark charity.

Susie Hills, Joint CEO and Co-founder – Project Director

With an unrivalled depth of knowledge in higher education fundraising, leadership and governance, Susie has advised and supported leaders and teams at universities across the UK, often during times of significant change. Susie is highly skilled at undertaking reviews of strategy, performance and structures and is in demand as coach and mentor. Susie is responsible for developing Halpin’s cross-sector governance expertise, having worked in the charity, corporate and HE sectors, and is a champion of best practice in governance. She is currently a Trustee of the Halpin Trust and, until recently, has been a member of the Board of Governors at Plymouth College of Art. In 2019, Susie was named as one of Unilever’s ’50 Leading Lights in Kindness’ by the FT in recognition of her work on kindness in leadership.

Susie has worked with a number of clients on highly customised governance reviews including UCL, the Universities of Bath, Kent and Westminster, UUK, QAA, and the Royal College of Art.

Professor Hilary Lappin-Scott, Consulting Fellow – Senate Effectiveness and Assurance

Hilary is a Professor of Microbiology with a personal Chair awarded over 20 years ago and she is currently Honorary Distinguished Professor at Cardiff University. Hilary was a research scientist at the University of Exeter for 20 years, before moving into senior University leadership roles.

At Exeter, Hilary was Dean of the Postgraduate Faculty, responsible for quality assurance, curricula development and student experience. Hilary then moved to Bangor University where she was appointed Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Innovation, and later moved to the University of Swansea as Senior Pro Vice-Chancellor. There she led strategic development, research and innovation, performance management, student recruitment and equality, diversity and inclusion agendas until 2019.

Hilary has a total of 20 years’ experience on three different Senates and 15 years’ experience sitting on University Councils. She was also a member of Finance and Remuneration Committees at all three institutions. Hilary has chaired university Research Committees, prepared three RAE/REF university submissions, and was also involved in establishing two Medical Schools, line managing the Medical School and Health Sciences at the University of Swansea.

Hilary is the elected President of the Federation of European Microbiological Societies (FEMS) having previously been the President of both the Microbiological Society and the International Society for Microbial Ecology. She was part of Research England’s Interdisciplinary Advisory Panel to advise UKRI and REF, led the Universities Wales Research and Engagement group and was a member of HEFCW’s Research Wales Committee.

She was also a panel member for REF2014, a member of the working group for the Stern Review and she is currently a panel Chair for REF2021.

Dame Angela Pedder, Consulting Fellow – Review Chair

Angela is an experienced senior NHS leader, with over 40 years’ NHS experience, including over 30 at Chief Officer level. Most recently, Angela was the Lead Chief Executive for the Devon Success Regime and Sustainability and Transformation Partnership.

Angela is a founding member of the Board and Vice-Chair of the South West Peninsula Academic Health Science Network. She has served two separate terms on the NHS Providers Board and has contributed to Secretary of State, NHSI and NHSE advisory forums.

She received an OBE in the 2007 New Year’s Honours List, a DBE in the 2017 New Year’s Honours List and an Honorary Doctorate for the University of Exeter in 2011.

Osaro Otobo, Consulting Fellow – Student Voice and Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI)

Osaro is currently Deputy Chair of the British Youth Council and is a member of multiple education and non-profit Boards. Her areas of expertise include the student voice, student democracy in governance and EDI.

A former student at the University of Hull, Osaro was elected for three successive years to work in the best interest of students at Hull, was a postgraduate student trustee and two-term President at Hull’s Students’ Union.

From lived experiences, Osaro created the Make Diversity Count campaign, calling for all UK organisations to have a robust discrimination policy, setting out how they deal with complaints of discrimination in a more effective and transparent way. She believes in ensuring all students, especially those from liberation and widening participation groups, are supported effectively throughout their education journey. She also believes that student voices should be at the heart of an evidence-based approach to implementing change and getting meaningful, long-lasting results in the higher education sector. Osaro is currently working on a governance review at the University of Sunderland with Halpin and has also authored Halpin’s recent report ‘UK Universities’ Response to Black Lives Matter’, co-chairing the subsequent discussion webinar in late 2020.

Katie Welsh, Project Manager

Katie has extensive project management experience. Her recent governance review projects include the Universities of Westminster and Kent, Cardiff Metropolitan and Leeds Trinity. She has also undertaken a variety of projects at Halpin, including professional services reviews at Sussex and Cardiff Metropolitan University, campaign feasibility studies with the Sainsbury Laboratory, the University of Sheffield and the Royal College of Music.

She previously spent six years in the project management team at the executive search firm, Perrett Laver, responsible for the administration of senior-level recruitment processes within the higher education practice on an international scale. She worked on over 100 senior level appointments, including Chairs of Boards, Vice-Chancellor and other senior academic, professional and professorial appointments.

She will be responsible for providing administrative support for the Halpin team and the University of Manchester and will be the point of contact and coordinator of meetings and group discussions.

The Review Team will also be supported by David Allen (Halpin Consulting Fellow and former Registrar and Deputy Chief Executive at the University of Exeter) and colleagues in the Education practice at Shakespeare Martineau who will be undertaking a detailed review of the University’s governance instruments.

Useful Information

As part of the review, Halpin will be ensuring the University of Manchester is compliant with the recently revised CUC Code of Governance. We will also be drawing on good governance practice outside of the sector. Here are some useful links to the various codes of governance, as well as higher education sector specific resources relating to governance:

CUC publications, including the Higher Education Code of Governance: https://www.universitychairs.ac.uk/publications/

Corporate Code of Governance: https://www.frc.org.uk/directors/corporate-governance-and-stewardship/uk-corporate-governance-code

Charity Code of Governance: https://www.charitygovernancecode.org/en

Office for Students: https://www.officeforstudents.org.uk

Nolan Principles for Public Life: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-7-principles-of-public-life

QAA Quality Code for Higher Education: https://www.qaa.ac.uk/quality-code

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How was Halpin Partnership selected?

A public tender process was undertaken.

2. What experience does Halpin have of governance reviews?

Information on the review team and their experience can be found in the biographies above.

3. What should I do if I have questions about the review and/or would like to share my views?

The review consultation period will remain open until late May. Consultation will include interviews and discussion groups. To ensure confidentiality throughout the process, a dedicated email address has been set up where you can send your comments and questions directly to Halpin:

[email protected]

Virtual discussion groups with be held in due course via Microsoft Teams. We will update the times and dates in due course.

To attend a session please send your name and your preferred session time and date to [email protected]

4. Is the review independent?

The Halpin review team is entirely independent from the University of Manchester. The review team have no conflicts of interest in undertaking this work and the Senior Leadership Team at Manchester is not involved in the review, other than as interviewees or participants.

The review team’s main point of contact at Manchester is the University Governance Office The review team has complete access to relevant documentation and information will be provided as requested.

The Halpin review team will provide initial findings to the Nominations Committee in June 2021 and this will undertake a process of fact-checking. This will be to ensure that we have not included factually incorrect information or missed any key points of information or evidence. Any changes that are made after that point will be made at the discretion of the Halpin review team, based on the information and evidence provided and after full and careful consideration.

5. Will the findings be published, and if so when?

Halpin’s findings and recommendations will be presented to the Board of Governors and Senate in July. The University is anticipating publishing the report in full, once it has been received and presented to the Board and Senate.

6. Will the review consider governance practice from outside the sector?

The review team includes experts in governance with experience both in and outside of the higher education sector. This wider experience and knowledge will help to inform the recommendations.

7. What is the process for the review?

The review process includes a wide variety of activity to ensure engagement with the University community. The review activity is underway with the consultation phase ending at the end of May.

Both the Board of Governors and Senate will be kept updated regularly on review progress.

8. Will you share data and consultation findings with Manchester during the review process?

Sharing consultation findings is not part of the review methodology. Halpin will provide analysis of findings and recommendations, but our notes will not be provided to the University.

All data will be destroyed at the end of the contract between Halpin and Manchester, in line with our Data Protection policy as detailed here.

9. How will you ensure anonymity and confidentiality?

We will record the names of interviewees and discussion group attendees for the purposes of scheduling. All comments made are strictly in confidence and our reports will not attribute any comments to any names.

10. How can the Halpin review team be contacted?

The Halpin team can be contacted via [email protected]

Halpin Partnership has a trusted relationship with its clients and operates with sensitivity, discretion and confidentiality. We do not comment on client projects to third parties and will not be making any comments on the review undertaken for Manchester.

For any media enquiries, please contact the University of Manchester’s Media Relations team here.

If you have questions regarding Halpin and the services we offer please visit our main website at www.halpinpartnership.com or contact [email protected]

Interview: Compassionate Restructures

Mar 24, 2021

We are delighted that Michelle Leek (ML) has joined Halpin as a Consulting Fellow. Michelle specialises in strategic change project leadership delivery and is a Professor of Practice in People Growth & Culture. Until December 2020 she was Pro-Vice-Chancellor (People, Performance & Culture) at University of Cumbria. Halpin's Joint CEO Susie Hills (SH) caught up with her to talk about restructures... and to discuss if/how they can be more compassionate.

Michelle Leek Headshot.jpeg

Michelle Leek


SH: Universities have had to respond to the double challenge of Brexit and Covid and this has resulted in many institutions going through staffing restructure processes. What do you think we are learning about restructures as a sector during this period?

ML: It has indeed been a challenging time for the sector, and I think that we are continuing to learn so much about the challenges of leading and managing change, the speed of change, and the impact of this, especially at this time, on our staff and students.

Some universities have faced financial challenges and seen a decline in overseas student recruitment or challenges recruiting to specific courses, as a result of Brexit and or Covid. As such have needed to review services and restructure accordingly. From this we are learning much more about managing restructures, in particular about the effects and impact of going through such change, whilst working remotely.

As an example, through this past period, ways of working have been impacted significantly and for many, home and work boundaries have become blurred with many colleagues juggling work with home schooling and caring for others. From this, we are learning more about the holistic nature of such change and the personal impact, which this has on individuals work and home life.

We are learning just how challenging it can be to address such sensitive matters and strike that balance of taking forward the restructure, whilst ensuring that staff are sufficiently connected and that we understand enough about individual circumstances to really support staff through such change.

Also, I think we are gaining a more in-depth understanding of the nature of the support, which Managers need, to enable them to approach these matters in the most appropriate way, which may range from developing capability, to creating the capacity to ensure appropriate time is given to this.

And a final point on learning is about taking the time to really think about of getting the content tone and balance of communication and engagement right so that colleagues understand the whole restructuring process, how it is likely to impact them, how their voice can be heard, and where they can access help and the support as needed.

SH: What do you think some of the guiding principles should be when an institution undertakes restructure?

ML: For me it is very simple: for individuals to be treated with respect, concern and dignity throughout the whole process.

  • To be open, honest and transparent, throughout.

  • Keep communications, simple, regular and ensure colleagues know how to feed into the process or raise matters.

  • Ensure the rationale for change (business reasons) is clear and jargon-free.

  • To be clear and to emphasise that it is not personal; it is a business decision and is about the need for the role.

For Managers, they must understand their role in the process and be equipped and enabled to confidently approach it with empathy, where they understand and are prepared to listen (and really hear), with kindness and understanding and are confident how and where to signpost staff for advice and support.

And, to ensure that all legal guidelines and internal policy/procedures are applied throughout.

SH: Remote working adds to the challenge of undertaking a restructure. What good practice have you seen in handling consultation processes remotely?

ML: I have mentioned some earlier, however a few points to add. I have seen it to be beneficial where we have had more regular contact and updates with touch points scheduled in.

Where we have been able to hold face-to-face conversations via electronic means as a preference, where this has been possible.

Being open to and offering more flexibility around timings and traditional methods of consulting, and also where support has been tailored to online accessibility and delivery, especially whilst working remotely.

SH: And poor practice?

ML: None of the above, resulting in lack of engagement, poor morale and motivation, confusion, leading to internal grievances and employment tribunal claims.

Clearly any redundancies which result from a restructure are being made at a time when the job market is very challenging.

SH: What can institutions do to support any staff who are leaving to find new roles elsewhere?

ML: I think that it is really important for colleagues to understand the options and support available not just internally (such as Employee Assistance Programmes), but also through the government agencies (such as the Job Centre Plus), as well as to have an understanding of the current rights and benefits including the impact of the furlough scheme.

For me, ensuring that staff feel confident about their experiences, their skills and what they can offer is critical. As such, institutions need to find ways to really help staff to articulate their successes, and make key contributions to enable staff to genuinely understand their worth and significant contributions/successes achieved.

Most institutions are likely to do this as standard. However at times such as these, I think that a personal approach to support for colleagues, in conducting a job search, how to effectively use social media, how to develop a strong CV, preparing for interview techniques, coaching, will all be beneficial.

SH: The staff leading a restructure process are also experiencing the challenges of covid themselves – how can we support their well-being during the process?

I see that HR will play a role in supporting managers both in terms of ensuring that they have the confidence and skills to deliver the changes and also to coach and mentor them where relevant through the relevant procedures and processes.

In my experience, running regular ‘check in’ sessions with both HR and Managers when going through this type of process has proved to be really beneficial, to ensure that they feel supported whilst being able to respond to questions or concerns in the moment.

Managers and HR also need to understand the specific support is available to them, which may be different to that offered to staff, as well as how they can access this during a restructure. Both Managers and HR tend to feel that they need to have all of the answers, and I think that it is important that they are reassured to understand that this is not a requirement or indeed necessary, what is more important is that they know where to get an answer and are able to confidently agree to come back with it at a given time.

An area, which I personally believe more focus is needed, is in ensuring that support is available for the staff who remain in their roles, and consideration to the changes or impact this might have on them from both a personal and professional perspective.

Research is emerging which is suggesting that six years following on from a restructure decreased levels of motivation and trust still exist with remaining staff.

As such I think more can be done to help those who remain, by seeking ways to maintain motivation and morale for members of the team/department/service(s), beyond the restructure as they adapt to new ways of working.

SH: Is it possible to deliver a compassionate restructure? What would this look like?

ML: Whilst any restructure can be stressful, in some cases inevitable, and has the potential to negatively impact those who are both directly and indirectly affected, I absolutely believe that it is possible to deliver a compassionate restructure.

For me it is very much about HOW the restructure and change is conducted, and ensuring that people are at the centre of decisions, communication and those who are conveying key messaging show concern and a genuine understanding.

Through the approach and engagement, you would see illustrated ways of displaying genuine trust, integrity, dignity, honesty, in fact I am confident that these attributes will feature in many organisations' values and ways of working through normal business.

I genuinely believe that, if a colleague can leave an institute through a restructure and feel confident and proud of what they have achieved in their time at that institute, and can feel valued and possibly even want to return to the institute if an opportunity arises in the future (which I have witnessed on numerous occasions), then that has to be a positive sign of the way someone has felt having gone through such a process.

Finally, whilst challenges such as restructures arise in life, even though we might emphasise that the potential redundancy is not about the individual but the role, in reality we are dealing with human beings. In my view, if individuals first understand the reasons why change is needed and this is delivered with concern, if they are given the opportunity to ask questions, are treated with kindness, respect, honesty and dignity, and understand what support is available and how to access this, then this goes towards delivering a compassionate restructure.

In my view, as a leader of change I believe that you can still achieve the business objective, genuinely care and be interested in people. They are not mutually exclusive!

If you would like guidance on retructures and how to make them as compassionate as possible, Halpin's home of experts is here to help you. Get in touch today

Michelle Leek, Halpin Consulting Fellow, was speaking to Susie Hills, Joint CEO of Halpin.

What’s going on in HE Fundraising?

Mar 08, 2021

This is the main question I kept being asked by Directors of Development in Universities.

For a sector that is normally very open and discursive, and has strong personal relationships, I was struck by how much of a barrier Covid has been in promoting wider understanding of what is going on in fundraising. Certainly, the lack of in-person conferences has led to a shortage of opportunities for fundraisers to come together and share stories.

As fundraisers we love news, and the new. We love to hear what is happening, but tough lockdowns and the need to plough on has stopped our ability to take a breath and look up.

So we put together a couple of online roundtables to get a group of fundraising professionals together to chat about what they were seeing, what was happening, and to get a chance to learn from others' experiences.

New People!

Some of the delight in doing this was simply seeing a whole group of new faces – even, major shocker, some people you may not have met before!

As always with these conversations, I was struck by how much we have in common as fundraisers, however old and grand, or new and disruptive your institution is.

Live Art

We thought it might be fun to produce a piece of artwork to summarise the discussions, so here they are - I encourage you to take a look.

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Sketchnote - roundtable 28th Jan 2021_page-0001.jpg

Our issues?

If you look at both of the sketch notes, all the issues from the last year are there, from furlough to Black Lives Matter, budget cuts to fundraising successes, the joys and sorrows of homeworking, and the need to keep the good from the last year, as well as moving on.

"All we have to do, is keep talking"

This famous encouragement from Stephen Hawking has never been more relevant. I hope you enjoy the sketch notes, I hope they provoke some conversations, and I look forward to even seeing some of you in person by the end of spring. Here’s hoping!

Shaun Horan is Joint CEO of Halpin, the home of experts in higher education fundraising.

Reinventing the 'review'

Mar 05, 2021

I’ve always been very interested in “the power of review”. It seems to me that many institutions are pretty good at “plan and do” but less at “review”.

Given how much we have had to plan and do over the last year, often under extreme pressure, there is much that we should now review. If we don’t take time to identify what we have learnt we will miss an extraordinary opportunity.

However, many of us are working under continued pressure and the energy and appetite for reviewing things may be understandably low. So how do we embrace the power of review and help it to energise and focus us rather than adding to our workloads? How can we remove the ‘dread’ that the word might evoke?

I think it’s time to dust off the art of the review, reinvent it and super-charge it for 2021. It’s time to develop review processes that are focused, effective, swift, compassionate and energising. Processes that are informed by the best of what we have achieved during these challenging times.

At Halpin we have been reflecting on what we have learnt with regards to reviews over the past year.

5 lessons from Halpin Reviews….

1. Digital tools can help engagement

We have learnt that we can use digital tools to engage more people more quickly, and in different ways. Whilst it may be preferable (for some of us) to meet physically, we have learnt that we can have important discussions using digital tools too. Reviews can be undertaken using a mix of tools - video meetings, focus group discussions, surveys and good old fashioned phone calls.

At Halpin, we have undertaken effective and inclusive reviews without ever meeting our clients in person. In fact, we have found that many people have been more willing to meet and have been more frank in their feedback than in face-to-face reviews. We would caution against the presumption that in-person meetings are better for all. Some have found video meetings and calls provide them with more comfortable and inclusive ways to contribute to discussions. We have also learnt that digital tools are only really inclusive if you don’t just give people the online tools to participate, but also provide support to make sure they understand how best to use them.

2. Focus on stakeholders

Under pressure, we have all naturally focused on what matters most for our stakeholders. Covid has helped us all to improve our ability to prioritise and pull together to change things. Institutions have achieved change that would have been considered impossible two years ago. This clarity of focus and emphasis on meeting the needs of stakeholders is vital in any review.

At Halpin we work hard at the start of a project to ensure we have clarity of scope, a clear understanding of the stakeholders involved and focused lines of enquiry. For example, our projects always start with a scoping meeting with key project stakeholders. Through discussion we explore, test and agree lines of enquiry which will guide our work throughout the review. This approach helps us to deliver reviews that have impact and are implementable.

3. EDI isn’t an ‘extra’

Both Covid and Black Lives Matter have pushed us all to consider equality, diversity and inclusion throughout our work. EDI belongs to all of us, it can’t be an add-on. For any review to be effective it needs to build EDI considerations into its scope at the outset.

We have started to build EDI considerations into all of our reviews and made sure we have the right skills in our team to do this. For example, our governance reviews now consider EDI throughout the review, not simply in terms of board diversity. We are committed to EDI as a firm, and we know we have more to do learn and do.

4. Reviews can be kind

Strangely whilst we might have been ‘remote’ working in some ways, we are all closer than ever. We have glimpsed each other’s lives – seen our homes, our dogs, cats and children. We have been patient with each other’s wifi problems and realised we are all doing the best we can. We have flexed our kindness muscles and offered each other understanding. We have achieved difficult things, together, with kindness.

At Halpin we believe that reviews can be kind. They can be inclusive, thoughtful and respectful. Difficult decisions can be made with kindness. A good review can avoid blame, focus on learning and unleash creativity.

5. Reviews are a team support

Covid has highlighted the power of teams to get things done; we have all found ways to work together despite the challenges. Reviews are best led by a small team and a good review team will have a good mix of skills and experience. The team needs to be able to challenge each other, to test assumptions, to explore findings together and to test recommendations with each other. The right team can also ensure that their review findings are highly implementable – we all hate review reports which sit on shelves.

At Halpin our reviews are conducted by teams of experts, and are supported by strong project management.

What would you add? What have you learnt about undertaking reviews in these challenging times? How can we make sure that a review leads to positive change? How can we review anything when we are exhausted and overloaded?

Let the discussions begin...

Susie Hills is Joint CEO at Halpin, the home of experts in higher education.

University of Sussex Governance Review Info

Mar 05, 2021

Governance at the University of Sussex

As part of our commitment to good practice, the University of Sussex has commissioned an external consultancy to undertake an independent review of its governance arrangements. See more info here.

The review consultation period will be open from March until the end of May, and we strongly encourage you to have your say by completing the online survey when it opens, and/or attending an online discussion group.

This page will be kept up to date with all the latest information on the review.

Background

The governance arrangements at universities identify responsibilities and accountabilities. The governance framework at the University of Sussex is set by the University’s Charter, Statutes and Regulations.

Council is the governing body of the University. Its role is:

  • To determine the strategic objectives for the University and to monitor performance against these objectives and against appropriate external benchmarks;
  • To discharge its responsibilities in relation to general legal and other external requirements;
  • To meet general requirements deriving from the Charter and Statutes, other than those matters delegated to committees or to individuals;
  • To monitor institutional effectiveness;
  • To monitor its own effectiveness.

Senate reports to Council and is the body responsible for academic standards and the direction and regulation of academic matters of the University. Its role is:

  • To direct and regulate teaching and examination;
  • To promote research;
  • To authorise the award or annulment of degrees;
  • To regulate admissions and the discipline of students;
  • To discuss and declare an opinion on any matter whatsoever relating to the University and ‘do such other acts as the Council may authorise’.

More information on the governance framework at the University of Sussex is available here and here.

Why is a governance review taking place?

Good governance is crucial to institutional success.

The Committee of University Chairs (CUC) published a Higher Education Code of Governance (last updated September 2020) – which states “Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) must conduct a regular, full and robust review of governance effectiveness with some degree of independent input. This will provide assurance to internal and external stakeholders and allow a mechanism to focus on improvement and chart progress towards achieving any outstanding actions arising from the last effectiveness review. It is recommended this review takes place every three years.”

The University last conducted an external effectiveness review in 2017, with a light-touch Council effectiveness review undertaken in 2019 and a Senate Effectiveness Review undertaken in 2017/18.

2021 is therefore the right time for an external governance review.

This review will be considering three key elements:

  • The effectiveness of Council
  • The effectiveness of Senate
  • The relationship between the two

Who will be undertaking the review?

Following an open and competitive tender process, Halpin was appointed by the University of Sussex in January 2021 to conduct an independent review of the effectiveness of the University’s governance arrangements.

Halpin Partnership (Halpin) is a specialist higher education consultancy. Their assigned consulting team for University of Sussex has extensive governance expertise across the education, public and corporate sectors. Biographies of the Halpin review team are provided below.

Following a period of open consultation, Halpin’s team will present the review findings and recommendations to a specially convened Review Steering Group in July 2021. The Steering Group has been established to oversee the review, chaired by the Vice-Chair of Council. Council, Senate and the USSU are represented within this group.

All comments and feedback should be directed through the email address - [email protected] Please do not contact the Steering Group directly regarding the review.

Membership:

  • 3 independent members of Council
  • 2 elected Senators on Council
  • USSU Representative on Council and Senate member
  • Policy Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Senate member
  • An elected Senate representative

Review Steering Group (see biographies here):

  • Adrienne Fresko CBE
  • David Benson
  • Aleema Shivji
  • Professor Stephen Caddick
  • Connor Moylett
  • Professor Keith Jones
  • Professor Sara Crangle
  • Professor Steve McGuire
  • Paul Gilbert

Also in attendance at meetings:

  • Dr Tim Westlake – Chief Operating Officer and University Secretary
  • Emma Potts – Interim Deputy Chief Operating Officer and Deputy University Secretary
  • Georgina Seligmann – Deputy Head of Governance Services

Halpin’s responses to frequently asked questions about the review can also be found below.

Review Timeline

February 2021

  • Introductory Meeting with Steering Group
  • Information Request

March – May 2021

  • Surveys sent to Council, Senate and University Leadership Team
  • Desk review
  • Interviews
  • Observations of Council, Senate and committee meetings
  • Discussion groups with Senate, staff and students

June – July 2021

  • Analysis of findings and development of recommendations
  • Presentation to the Steering Group

September 2021 onwards

  • Findings and recommendations to be presented to Council and Senate by Steering Group, and shared with the University community in the normal way.
  • Implementation of recommendations

Review Consultation

The review consultation period will be open from 8th March until 28th May.

Online discussion group sessions for members of Senate, staff and students will be held in March and April via Microsoft Teams. Once confimed, dates will be added to this page, with details of how to sign up.

Share your comments

Halpin invites comments on governance matters from all corners of the University. If you are unable to attend an online discussion group or you would prefer to send comments regarding the governance arrangements at Sussex to the Halpin Review team via email, please do so via [email protected]

Please note, all comments are confidential to the Halpin Review team. We will record the names of interviewees and focus group attendees for the purposes of scheduling, but any comments included in our final report will be anonymised.

Review Team

There are six members of the Halpin team working on this governance effectiveness review. Each team member has a specific focus or area that they will be covering in this review. More details on their remit and biographies are below.

David Allen OBE, Consulting Fellow – Governance Effectiveness (Board and Senate)

David is the former Registrar and Deputy Chief Executive of the University of Exeter.

Having worked in the higher education sector for 37 years, David has also held senior leadership roles at the Universities of Birmingham, Nottingham, Southampton and Wales. David is the former Chair of the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW) and and is the only person to have chaired both the Association of University Administrators (AUA) and the Association of Heads of University Administration (AHUA). He is a former Board Member of the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education and also chaired its Audit Committee. He continues to chair Exeter College and Torbay Pharmaceutical Boards and he is also Vice-Chair of Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust. He was awarded an OBE in the 2012 New Year’s Honours list for services to higher education.

At Halpin, David has worked on governance reviews at the University of Bath, UCL, the Royal College of Art and UUK.

Susie Hills, Joint CEO and Co-founder – Project Director

With an unrivalled depth of knowledge in higher education fundraising, leadership and governance, Susie has advised and supported leaders and teams at universities across the UK, often during times of significant change. Susie is highly skilled at undertaking reviews of strategy, performance and structures and is in demand as coach and mentor. Susie is responsible for developing Halpin’s cross-sector governance expertise, having worked in the charity, corporate and HE sectors, and is a champion of best practice in governance. She is currently a Trustee of the Halpin Trust and, until recently, has been a member of the Board of Governors at Plymouth College of Art. In 2019, Susie was named as one of Unilever’s ’50 Leading Lights in Kindness’ by the FT in recognition of her work on kindness in leadership.

As practice lead for governance at Halpin, Susie has overseen highly customised reviews of governance reviews including at UCL, the Universities of Bath, Kent and Westminster, UUK, QAA, and the Royal College of Art.

Professor Hilary Lappin-Scott, Consulting Fellow – Senate Effectiveness and Assurance

Hilary is a Professor of Microbiology with a personal Chair awarded over 20 years ago and she is currently Honorary Distinguished Professor at Cardiff University. Hilary was a research scientist at the University of Exeter for 20 years, before moving into senior University leadership roles.

At Exeter, Hilary was Dean of the Postgraduate Faculty, responsible for quality assurance, curricula development and student experience. Hilary then moved to Bangor University where she was appointed Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Innovation, and later moved to the University of Swansea as Senior Pro Vice-Chancellor. There she lead strategic development, research and innovation, performance management, student recruitment and equality, diversity and inclusion agendas until 2019.

Hilary has a total of 20 years’ experience on three different Senates and 15 years’ experience sitting on University Councils. She was also a member of Finance and Remuneration Committees at all three institutions. Hilary has chaired university Research Committees, prepared three RAE/REF university submissions, and was also involved in establishing two Medical Schools, line managing the Medical School and Health Sciences at the University of Swansea.

Hilary is the elected President of the Federation of European Microbiologicial Societies (FEMS) having previously been the President of both the Microbiological Society and the International Society for Microbial Ecology. She was part of Research England’s Interdisciplinary Advisory Panel to advise UKRI and REF, led the Universities Wales Research and Engagement group and was a member of HEFCW’s Research Wales Committee.

She was also a panel member for REF2014, a member of the working group for the Stern Review and she is currently a panel Chair for REF2021.

Osaro Otobo, Consulting Fellow – Student Experience and Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI)

Osaro is currently Deputy Chair of the British Youth Council and is a member of multiple education and non-profit Boards. Her areas of expertise include the student voice and student democracy in governance and EDI.

A former student at the University of Hull, Osaro was elected for three successive years to work in the best interest of students at Hull, was a postgraduate student trustee and two-term President at Hull’s Students’ Union.

From lived experiences, Osaro created the Make Diversity Count campaign, calling for all UK organisations to have a robust discrimination policy, setting out how they deal with complaints of discrimination in a more effective and transparent way.
She believes in ensuring all students, especially those from liberation and widening participation groups, are supported effectively throughout their education journey. She also believes that student voices should be at the heart of an evidence-based approach to implementing change and getting meaningful, long-lasting results in the higher education sector. Osaro recently completed her first Halpin governance review at the University of Sunderland has also authored Halpin’s recent report ‘UK Universities’ Response to Black Lives Matter’, co-chairing the subsequent discussion webinar in late 2020.

Frank Toop MBE, Consulting Fellow – Governance Effectiveness (Board and Senate)

Frank is the former University Secretary of City, University of London where he was also previously Director of Finance and Chief Operating Officer.

Frank is an experienced Governor himself, having been a member of HEFCE’s Audit Committee and Goldsmiths, University of London’s Audit Committee. He was also Vice-Chair of Orpington College and London South East Colleges, where he recently chaired the Audit & Risk and Finance Committees. He is currently a Board member and Chair of the Audit & Risk Committee at Greater Brighton Metropolitan College.

Frank has undertaken governance effectiveness reviews at the Universities of Bath, Bristol, Cardiff Metropolitan University and the London School of Hygeine and Tropical Medicine. He has recently worked with the University of Sussex reviewing the Audit & Risk Committee in 2020. As well as governance effectiveness reviews, he has also advised on academic governance structures, university constititonal matters and delegation frameworks.

Frank was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in 2014.

Katie Welsh, Project Manager

Katie has extensive HE sector knowledge and project management experience. Her recent governance review projects include the Universities of Westminster and Kent, Cardiff Metropolitan and Leeds Trinity. She has managed a variety of complex and high-profile projects at Halpin, including professional services reviews at Sussex and Cardiff Metropolitan University and feasibility studies with the Sainsbury Laboratory, the University of Sheffield and the Royal College of Music.

She previously spent six years in the project management team at the executive search firm, Perrett Laver, responsible for the administration of senior-level recruitment processes within the higher education practice on an international scale. She worked on over 100 senior level appointments, including Chairs of Boards, Vice-Chancellor and other senior academic, professional and professorial appointments.

Katie will be responsible for providing administrative support for the Halpin team and the University of Sussex, and will be the point of contact and coordinator of meetings and group discussions.

Useful Information

As part of the review, Halpin will be ensuring the University of Sussex is compliant with the CUC Code of Governance. They will also be drawing on good governance practice outside of the sector. Here are some useful links to the various codes of governance, as well as higher education sector-specific resources relating to governance:

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How was Halpin Partnership selected?

A public tender process was undertaken.

2. What experience does Halpin have of governance reviews?

Information on the review team and their experience can be found above.

3. What should I do if I have questions about the review and/or would like to share my views?

The review consultation period will be open from March to the end of May 2021. Consultation will include interviews and discussion groups. To ensure confidentiality throughout the process, a dedicated email address has been set up where you can send your comments and questions directly to Halpin:

[email protected]

Virtual discussion groups will be held via Microsoft Teams. We will update the times and dates in due course.

To attend a session please send your name and your preferred session time and date to [email protected]

4. Is the review independent?

The Halpin review team is entirely independent of the University of Sussex. The review team have no conflicts of interest in undertaking this work and the senior management team at Sussex is not involved in the review in any capacity, other than as interviewees.

The review team’s points of contact at Sussex are the Steering Group Chair, Adrienne Fresko and the members of the Governance team – Georgina Seligmann (Deputy Head of Governance Services) and Emma Potts (Interim Deputy Chief Operating Officer and Deputy University Secretary). The review team has complete access to relevant documentation and information will be provided as requested.

The Halpin review team will provide our findings to the Steering Group in June 2021 and will undertake a process of fact-checking. This will be to ensure that we have not included factually incorrect information or missed any key points of information or evidence. Any changes that are made after that point will be made at the discretion of the Halpin review team, based on the information and evidence provided and after full and careful consideration.

5. Will the findings be published, and if so when?

Halpin’s findings and recommendations will be presented by the Steering Group to Council and Senate in September 2021 and will then be shared with the wider University community in the normal way.

6. Will the review consider governance practice from outside the sector?

The review team includes experts in governance with experience both in and outside of the higher education sector. This wider experience and knowledge will help to inform the recommendations.

7. What is the process for the review?

The review process includes a wide variety of activity to ensure engagement with the University community. The review activity is expected to take place from February with the consultation phase ending at the end of May.

Council and Senate will be kept updated regularly on review progress.

8. Will you share data and consultation findings with Sussex during the review process?

Sharing consultation findings is not part of the review methodology. Halpin will provide analysis of findings and recommendations, but our notes will not be provided to the University.

All data will be destroyed at the end of the contract between Halpin and Sussex, in line with our Data Protection policy as detailed here

9. How will you ensure anonymity and confidentiality?

We will record the names of interviewees and discussion group attendees for scheduling. All comments made are strictly in confidence and our reports will not attribute any comments to any names.

10. Why will staff and students be included in the process?

A typical governance review would not include discussion groups open to all staff and students. However, given the size and level of interest in governance across the University, it is entirely appropriate that as wide a consultation takes place as possible.

11. How can the Halpin review team be contacted?

The Halpin team can be contacted via [email protected]

Halpin has a trusted relationship with its clients and operates with sensitivity, discretion and confidentiality. We do not comment on client projects to third parties and will not be making any comments on the review undertaken for Sussex.

For any media enquiries, please contact Sussex’s Media Relations team

If you have questions regarding Halpin and the services we offer please visit our main website or contact [email protected]

The university’s brand & reputation – what is the Board/Council’s role?

Mar 05, 2021

The Higher Education Policy Institute has just published Mixed Media; what universities need to know about journalists so they can get a better press by Rosemary Bennett. She notes that Universities are now under much greater scrutiny from the media. She argues that Universities need to accept that this level of scrutiny is similar to that experienced by other areas of public life, it will continue and probably increase.

Also, the media focus for Universities has shifted, following the imposition of fees, to include matters of consumer interest as well as policy e.g., stories covering the lack of teaching and risks to summer exams during the 2018 lecturers’ strike and actual lecturer contact time as against the fees charged to students.

She suggests that Universities, Vice-Chancellors and staff should become more involved in the broader national educational debates and be prepared to take on the individual risks of a higher public profile – such as appearing on BBC Question Time or engaging like Sir David Eastwood and Chris Husbands in the debate about scrapping A level exams in 2021.

She believes that Covid has given universities a fresh start in managing their public image and notes “The 2018 study for Universities UK by BritainThinks found members of the public rarely mentioned unprompted that research was one of the benefits of universities. It would be surprising if that had not changed as a result of the pandemic”.

There has been a tendency for universities to rely on Universities UK and the various mission groups to lead in these areas and for Boards/Councils not to become too involved. Often it is seen as a matter for the Vice-Chancellor and the senior team, unless the university individually becomes the subject of intense media scrutiny. However, it is worth considering whether the Board/Councils should be more involved due to the importance of the University’s brand and reputation.

Some of the questions that Boards/Councils might consider include:

  • Should the criteria for the Vice-Chancellor role give greater priority to the ability and willingness to take on a role on the national stage? Do the roles of the other senior executives need to change to allow this? Have the senior team also a role to play in promoting the University?
  • Does the University have a strategy or plan for its brand and reputation? How does the University encourage staff to promote the University and how is such a culture encouraged? What training is given? What metrics can be used to inform progress? What are its brand goals?
  • Are there areas of brand or reputational risk that the University should consider e.g., the number of first class degrees, unconditional offers, fee refunds during Covid, freedom of speech and senior pay. Bennett notes these can also be opportunities e.g., Nottingham Trent decided to grant fewer firsts and Chichester was one of first to end unconditional offers.
  • How should Boards/Council monitor the brand and reputation of the University? Should survey and other methodologies be used both nationally and in the local community? Bennett notes the importance of parents as a stakeholder group.
  • To what extent are the University’s values and culture recognised by its stakeholders?
  • Where the University does attract significant negative media interest – when and how does the Board/Council become involved? What are the arrangements for handling the situation?

The brand and reputation of a university are among its most important assets. As such, they should be safeguarded and promoted by the Board/Council. At the same time, they are one of the University’s greatest risks. The media interest is only likely to increase, Bennett’s recommendation that Universities become more outwardly focused and proactive is timely, leading to the question - Should the Board/Council be doing more?

Frank Toop MBE is a Consulting Fellow for Halpin, the home of experts in higher education governance.

The educational fog

Feb 16, 2021

Finding your way through government policy towards education and more broadly is like trying to find your way around a city in thick fog without either a map or a compass. The latest FE White Paper is yet another that underlines this and mostly adds to the problem.

Let’s start by saying what place the government should be trying to get to. Firstly, we live in a grossly unfair society in which any notion of equal opportunity is absent. This is obviously going to be much worse as a result of Covid-19. Of course the point goes well beyond education as such, but trying to develop education policy without recognising and seeking to address this is bound to fail. If we don’t know where we are going, we most certainly won’t get there.

Secondly, within education itself there is no clear road map. For example, it’s all very well spelling out what will be done in, say, further education, but it should be part of an integrated policy that addresses educational need from cradle to grave.

Thirdly, a huge amount of ground needs to be made up following years of underinvestment in lifelong learning in particular. As a direct result of massive “austerity”-driven funding cuts, there has been a 61% fall in part-time learners over the past 10 years, most of them over 21. The government has to realise that, if we are to keep pace internationally with technological and economic progress, the skills of millions of our people already in the workforce need to be substantially upgraded.

Let me illustrate the problem by reference to the recent White Paper - Skills for Jobs: Lifelong Learning for Opportunity and Growth.

It talks about continuing to support participation in English, maths and digital training. But these are key topics that must be addressed long before pupils reach 16. Schools and charities have the will to do this, but nowhere near sufficient resource to address shortcomings.

Furthermore, it is these foundation skills that are often lacking amongst all ages, so the White Paper’s acknowledgement that lifelong learning needs to be funded and delivered for adults to reach levels 4 and 5 completely overlooks those adults who don’t have the basic skills to tackle, for example, higher technical education, never mind highly skilled jobs.

So one problem with offering a flexible Lifetime Skills Guarantee is that the loan entitlement to be available (in four years' time) is for “the equivalent of four years of post-18 education”. We also have to target those who were failed in their primary and secondary education before they can realistically upskill at levels 4 and 5.

What is more, the chances of many of the people who need this help being prepared to take out a loan when they are most likely living at the margin, with heavy family responsibilities, are slight. Of course giving grants means much higher public spending initially, but also a much better chance of accelerating our progress towards being a genuinely skills-led economy, with all the economic and social benefits that will flow from that.

The White Paper talks about putting employers at the heart of post-16 skills. This has been said many times before, and the track record of delivery is generally very poor. The nearest we came to it is Investors in People. Much more to the point would be to put the whole community at the heart of skills policy, and not just for post-16. This means including local authorities, schools, colleges, universities and learning hubs in every community in the development and implementation of policy.

It is good to see the proposal to “provide clear information about career outcomes”, but this falls a long way short of ensuring that all school, college and university leavers, and those coming back into education in mid-career, have access to employability skills and careers advice.

To conclude, this piecemeal approach to policy, both in education and more broadly, suggests that the journey through the fog will be made even more difficult as the fog lifts - occasionally to allow a glimpse of a hoped-for landmark on the way which turns out to be on the wrong route, partially built or just a diversion.

To quote Andy Westwood, Professor at Manchester University: “Potential links with other departmental agendas such as those at DWP, BEIS and MHCLG have been largely ignored. The Treasury is ominously silent.”

Tim Melville Ross CBE is a Senior Advisor at Halpin, the home of experts in higher education.