The Halpin Partnership’s review will help to ensure that the University of Bath is able to fulfil the requirements of the CUC (Committee of University Chairs) Code, emerging guidance from the Office for Students, and the standards of good practice in relation to board leadership and effectiveness, remuneration and accountability as outlined in the Corporate Governance Code.

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

The starting point for the review will be to fully consider how the University’s Council fulfils the seven primary elements of good governance outlined in the CUC Code. Namely;

  1. The governing body is unambiguously and collectively accountable for institutional activities, taking all decisions on matters of fundamental concern within its remit.
  2. The governing body protects institutional reputation by being assured that clear regulations, policies and procedures that adhere to legislative and regulatory requirements are in place, ethical in nature, and followed.
  3. The governing body ensures institutional sustainability by working with the Executive to set the institutional mission and strategy. In addition, it needs to be assured that appropriate steps are being taken to deliver them and that there are effective systems of control and risk management.
  4. The governing body receives assurance that academic governance is effective by working with the Senate/Academic Board or equivalent as specified in its governing instruments.
  5. The governing body works with the Executive to be assured that effective control and due diligence take place in relation to institutionally significant external activities.
  6. The governing body must promote equality and diversity throughout the institution, including in relation to its own operation.
  7. The governing body must ensure that governance structures and processes are fit for purpose by referencing them against recognised standards of good practice.

Beyond CUC Code compliance, the Halpin Partnership has designed a review methodology to ensure that our consulting team fully addresses the requirements in the University’s tender request. The following table provides a summary of how each performance against each University objective will be assessed:

ObjectiveReview Method
To review the effectiveness of Council and its ability to support the University in the delivery of its Strategy 2016-2021Desk review
Interviews
Focus groups
To consider progress on implementation of the actions arising from the review against the CUC Code of Governance in November 2016Desk review
Interviews
Focus groups
To review the composition and organisation of Council and its CommitteesDesk review
Survey
Interviews
Focus groups
Benchmarking
(against best practice
within and outside of
the Higher Education
sector)
To review in particular the membership and operation of the Remuneration CommitteeDesk review
Survey
Interviews
Focus groups
Benchmarking
(against best practice within and outside of the Higher Education sector)
To review the effectiveness of the relationship between Council and the Executive and the quality of support and constructive challenge providedSurvey
Interviews
Focus groups
To seek the views of Council Committees on their own effectiveness and related issuesSurvey
Interviews
To review the effectiveness of interactions between Council and SenateInterviews
Focus groups
To review the relationship between Council and CourtInterviews
To consider the effectiveness of the Key Performance Indicators used and Benchmark institutionsDesk review
Interviews
To evaluate Council and Committee documentation (such as the Statement of Primary Responsibilities, scheme of delegation, committee terms of reference, relevant University Statutes and Ordinances, Council and committee agendas and minutes)Desk review
Benchmarking
(against best practice within & outside of the sector)
To reflect on Council’s full membership and skillsets, propose the best means of capitalising on these and identify any gaps to be filled through future appointmentsDesk review
Survey
Interviews

An overview of the key components of the review methodology has been provided below. A full breakdown of the methodology and timescales for the review can be found in the formal response to tender.

Desk Review

A detailed review of governance structures, Terms of Reference and procedures will be undertaken and peer-reviewed by the Halpin Partnership consulting team. The team will refer to the CUC Code and to governance best practice within and outside of the sector. As a firm, the Halpin Partnership offers experience from both within the sector, from those who have done the job of COO, Registrar and University Secretary, but we also have experts in corporate governance who can give the vital external perspective. We will review a large sample of Council and committee papers and minutes early in the service to enable any findings to inform the survey and interview questionnaire design.

The review of committees will pay particular attention to the Remuneration Committee and we will peer-review our findings with a Remuneration expert from outside the sector. We will consider review committee practice sector best practice as outlined in:

  • CUC code
  • Draft CUC Fair Pay Code
  • Developing DfE/OfS guidance
  • HEFCE guidance

The review will consider:

  • The membership, Terms of Reference and skills of the committeeThe independence of members
  • The membership and/or attendance of staff members whose remuneration is consideredThe use of comparative information on the emoluments of employees
  • The consideration of public interest and the safeguarding of public funds alongside the interests of the institution when considering all forms of payment, reward and severance to the staff within its remit.
  • The establishment of clear, measurable objectives and the assessment of performance via appraisal
  • The reporting lines between Council and the Committee The Halpin Partnership will also consider best practice from outside the sector and guidance provided in the FRC UK Corporate Governance Code (Section D and Schedule A) with particular reference to:
  • The link of rewards to institutional and individual performance
  • The use of comparative salary data
  • How rewards promote the long-term success of the institution
  • The use of external advisors
  • The separation of roles of Chair of Council and Chair of Remuneration committee

Survey, Interviews and Focus Groups

The Halpin Partnership will explore stakeholder views on the effectiveness of Council via a consultation process which will include a survey, and a mix of face-to-face interviews and focus groups to ensure the most inclusive feedback from stakeholders across the University. The consultation will explore the following areas:

  • The effectiveness of the structure and operations of Council and its committees
  • The quality of board meetings and the discussion and decision making which takes place within them
  • The governance relationship between Council and senior staff
  • The functional relationship between Council and senior staff
  • The membership of Council and the skillset of its members
  • The recruitment and selection of Council members and committee members
  • How well the university utilises the skills within Council
  • Equality and diversity
  • The membership and operation of Council committees with particular reference to the Remuneration committee
  • The governance and functional relationships between Council, Senate and Court
  • Risks in relation to the operation of Council and its committees
  • The administration of Council and its committees
  • Good governance practice at the University and opportunities to communicate that within the sector
  • Opportunities to improve the effectiveness of Council and its committees

Please note, in our final reporting all interviews will remain confidential and non-attributable.

Survey

We will begin the consultation process with a survey which will be sent to:

  • All staff
  • All students
  • All members of Council
  • All members of Court
  • All members of Senate

The full findings of this survey will be presented in the final report and early results will help to inform discussions undertaken in interviews/ focus groups. The survey will be designed to provide both quantitative and qualitative feedback. It will cover some of the key issues and allow those who complete it to rate the performance and effectiveness of Council and its committees, and also to provide anonymous comments and feedback via open text response questions. The survey should be seen as a ‘pulse’ check which will inform the more detailed interviews/focus group discussions.

The Halpin Partnership will provide a link to the online survey for the University to send to participants. The results will be anonymised and we will only ask for names and contact information for survey participants who wish to participate in a focus group. We will ensure one response per person by reviewing the IP addresses of the survey responses. All survey data will be deleted within 90 days of the contract end date.

Interviews

The Halpin Partnership will invite the following for one to one interviews:

  • Council members
  • Key senior staff members
  • Key external stakeholders

The discussions will be conducted by highly experienced Halpin Partnership Fellows and will take place on site at the University of Bath. The Fellows will use a discussion guide to ensure that the interviews are conducted in a consistent manner with key questions addressed. The University will be responsible for organising a private meeting space for the interviews to take place.

We may also organise a small number of group interviews to further increase the sample of views and feedback received during the process.

Some discussions may be undertaken by telephone if this enables key participants to be included but face-to-face meetings are preferable.

Group Discussion

All those who respond to the survey will have an opportunity to put themselves forward to participate in a group discussion. Our aim will be to provide as many people as possible with the opportunity to participate in a group discussion.

Timeline

December

  • Introductory meetings
  • Information request

January – March

  • Desk Review
  • Survey
  • Interviews
  • Council, Court and committee observations
  • Discussion groups

April

  • Findings
  • Analysis
  • Report and recommendations

May

  • Presentation to Council
  • Publication of report
  • Implementation of recommendations