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Taking good governance in higher education forward

Students with book Good governance is critical to the effective operation of Scotland’s higher education institutions and to their ability to make a full contribution to Scotland’s success. The Scottish higher education sector is successful because it has a governance system, based around the 2013 Code, which is extensive and effective.

The 2013 Code


Every system is capable of further enhancement and we believe that good governance should continuously evolve. The Code review, three years on from its creation, creates another opportunity for that continued enhancement and enables the Code to reflect changes to HE governance introduced by the Higher Education Governance (Scotland) Act 2016.

Scottish higher education institutions fully recognise the vital importance of contributions that their communities of students, staff and other stakeholders make to a regime of effective and inclusive governance.


A word from the Chair of the Steering Group


I am very pleased to have been invited to take on the role of Convener of the steering group to review the Scottish Code of Good Higher Education Governance. I come to this role from an independent perspective, with a background in the private and third sectors, and I know the crucial importance of our higher education institutions to our society and economy. Good governance is key to this: it guides institutions’ strategic decisions and the oversight that it provides bolsters confidence in those institutions.

A commitment was made at the introduction of the Code to review it after three years, but this review has proved to be perfectly timed for another reason too. In March 2016, the Scottish Parliament passed the Higher Education Governance (Scotland) Act, which brings a number of new requirements on institutions’ governance arrangements. We need to ensure that the Code complements the Act appropriately, to leave higher education institutions with governance arrangements that promote success, fairness and sustainability to the greatest possible extent.

Along with all the members of the Steering Group, I am determined to ensure that this review is fully inclusive of all stakeholder voices. The Steering Group itself has a diverse membership, with representatives of the NUS, other student bodies and the STUC, alongside independent members. Together we bring wide and varied experience of governance in higher education and many other fields, right across the public, private and third sectors. In order to hear the maximum number of relevant voices, we will be running an extensive programme of consultation. It will include meetings with diverse stakeholders within each institution and at national level, as well as a wide-ranging public consultation both before and after the production of a draft revised Code.

With these arrangements in place, I am confident that the Steering Group will benefit from rich and diverse input and will produce a revised Code that will support good governance in Scottish higher education for many years to come.

Ian Marchant