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Governance Review

Effectiveness Review of Non-Departmental Governance and Decision-Making

Following a broad effectiveness review of the University Council, the University Steering Committee has commissioned an effectiveness review of non-departmental governance to be undertaken during this academic year. An Effectiveness Review Consultative Group (ERCG) is being established to both advise on the review as it goes forward but also to play an active role in the review process. The Group will include academic members representing all Faculties, a departmental administrator, a student representative as well as an external/lay member. The first part of the process will be seeking views from the widest possible range of stakeholders via an online questionnaire. The ERCG will then interview a number of individuals to seek more detailed views on specific areas of focus. It is envisaged that the key findings of the questionnaire and interviews will be compiled at the start of the Summer Term for consideration by the Steering Committee in the first instance.

Background and Context to the Review:

During 2004 a review was undertaken by the Governing Instruments Committee established by the Council on the recommendation of the Senate to consider the governance and academic structure of the University. A number of proposals for amendments and enhancements to the University’s governance arrangements were agreed and implemented following the consideration of the findings of this review.

The University has continued to grow in size and diversity since the last governance review. Since then the University has also embarked on an ambitious and challenging future strategy. The coming period will continue to present significant challenges, the economy being the most immediate and visible, which must be navigated carefully. It is also likely that the flow of initiatives and good opportunities will continue to flourish and the University must ensure that it is sufficiently fleet of foot to capitalise on them when they arise whilst recognising the difference between a genuine opportunity and a distraction. In short, Warwick needs to ensure that its governance system and approaches to decision-making act as an enabler for good opportunities and as a necessary barrier for poor or ill-considered opportunities. This is in addition to its vital role of ensuring that the University operates legally, fairly and transparently.

The overall approach to governance at Warwick has remained broadly consistent throughout its history and most would argue that it has served the institution well. As well as enabling the business of the University to move forward, the involvement of the wider academic community in a wide range of formal and ad hoc bodies has encouraged significant numbers of people to be engaged in the wider interests and development of the University as a whole, alongside their immediate interests as individual academics, as part of an academic area, their department, or their faculty. The extensive involvement of students in governance at Warwick, particularly on senior bodies, is also often cited as a significant institutional strength.

More recently, there has been a view expressed from a number of areas of the University that the purposes underpinning the governance arrangements might not be as clear as might have been the case previously. Some would go further and argue that the governance arrangements both slow-down and make overly complex the operations of the University, particularly in areas which are commercially-facing. There are also a good number of individuals who have countered this perspective. A review at this time provides a good opportunity to either evidence or challenge these and other issues prior to determining what, if anything, needs to change.

Areas to be Covered by the Review:

  • What works well currently?
  • What could be improved and how?
  • What could be done differently?
  • What is redundant in the current system?
  • The extent and scope of delegated authority to/from different bodies.
  • Alternative models, structures, bodies or approaches worthy of consideration
  • Size of committees
  • Operational issues
  • The impact of part-year formal committee structures on year-round activities
  • Training and support for committee members

Membership of the Effectiveness Review Consultative Group (ERCG):

Professor H Beale, School of Law

Dr A Dowd, WMG

Dr J Kidd, WMS

Professor J Labbe, English and Comparative Literary Studies

Dr N Patel, Mathematics

Professor J Seville, School of Engineering (Chair)

Stuart Thomson, Students' Union President

Professor R Wensley, WBS

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