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University of Southampton

Case Study
Governance Review

Halpin’s review of governance for the University of Southampton took place between October 2022 and March 2023.

The review was wide-ranging and had multiple purposes, including examining Southampton’s civic role, the governance of subsidiaries, and the role of Council in stakeholder management. This was in addition to looking at existing governance structures, membership, processes and interfaces, and ensuring alignment with work that Southampton had already undertaken on statutes and ordinances.

Our approach included:

  • carrying out a desk review of Council and committee papers and governance documentation
  • inviting Council members and staff to complete a self-assessment questionnaire
  • observing meetings of Council, its committees and Senate
  • conducting 1:1 interviews, with a subset of Council members and staff
  • holding three focus groups with:
    • external members of committees
    • University Executive Board members, Deans and Vice-Presidents
    • academic governors

Our work found that governance arrangements at Southampton were good, with some areas demonstrating leading-edge practice. The Board was talented and passionate about the institution. However, in common with many universities, we found that communication between the Council and the Senate could be improved. Based on our findings, our report provided Southampton with a set of recommendations and guidance of ways to further strengthen its governance practices, along with commendations for the good practice we observed.


  • A comprehensive report, setting out recommendations, suggestions, commendations, and guidance on enhancing governance practice
  • Implementation pack
  • Impact review in 12 months