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University of Bath

Case Study
Council Effectiveness Review

Our flagship Council Effectiveness Review was commissioned following the high-profile coverage that the University was receiving regarding its remuneration policies and Vice-Chancellor pay. This coverage developed into a brief to review the effectiveness of Council and its sub-committees, which Halpin was selected to lead based on our breadth of experience both inside and outside the higher education sector. Best practice across HE and beyond was a key aspect of the brief, as well as identifying areas for improvement in the current governance model and communicating these to the wider university community.

Our work found an institution already making improvements to its governance effectiveness, strengthening the way in which it consults and communicates with University stakeholders.

Our final report was an essential tool in guiding the University from governance compliance to governance best practice.


  • Consultation with a large base of stakeholders: 1,392 survey responses, 49 individual interviews and 52 individuals in group sessions.
  • A comparison of higher education sector best practice.
  • 15 Primary Recommendations (many of which were implemented straight away) and 55 Supporting Recommendations towards effectiveness and becoming an exemplar of good practice in the higher education sector, and also learning from other sectors.

The full Halpin report on institutional governance is available to read here.


Since the governance review was received by Council, the University moved swiftly to undertake wide-reaching steps to implement the recommendations listed in our report.


  1. Firstly, a Council Effectiveness Review Steering Group was established to consider the recommendations of the Halpin Review and report back to Council. The members, remit and responsibilities are listed online.
  2. The University has regularly published updates on its website regarding implementation.
  3. In each of their annual reports, published online, the University has listed an update under the Corporate Governance section on the implementation of the recommendations.
  4. Finally, the University continues to enhance both the robustness and the transparency of its governance arrangements. They are undergoing annual self-assessments and individual appraisals, with the next external effectiveness review due in 2021.