HEIs are autonomous bodies and therefore the onus must lie with the institutions themselves to have fair and transparent governance and accountability arrangements in place that will ensure effective management of staff and a high quality learning and research environment for students.
Central to these responsibilities must be a strengthened role for the Governing Body and the HEA has taken steps to ensure oversight and ownership of governance arrangements at this level via annual reporting requirements as noted above. Despite institutional autonomy, from a system governance perspective, there are a number of prerequisites which all HEIs are expected to have in place to ensure good governance. These include:
- Process by which the relevant Code of Governance has been put in place
- Codes of conduct for governing body members and institution staff
- Appropriate procedures for internal audit and effective internal control
- Appropriate procedures for procurement
- Clear and independent process for raising of, and investigation into, complaints from students.
- Procedures for Good Faith Reporting whereby employees may, in confidence, raise concern about possible irregularities in financial reporting or other matters with assurance of meaningful follow-up of matters raised in this way.
This latter requirement is an important mechanism in ensuring that any governance or other issues within an institution that may not be apparent from formal corporate reporting can be raised and investigated independently from management interests. Since the introduction of the Protected Disclosures Act 2014, there is also the capacity for employees to make such a disclosure to their institution (in addition to a right to make this to the CEO of the HEA as referenced above).