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Overview of the Governance Framework for Higher Education

HEA Governance Oversight Framework - Higher Education Institutions

The Higher Education Authority (HEA) Act 2022 provides that one of the functions of the HEA is to support the effective governance of designated institutions of higher education by overseeing appropriate Governance Oversight Frameworks to underpin public confidence in the higher education system and requiring accountability and compliance with those governance oversight frameworks.


The HEA acknowledges the responsibility of designated institutions of higher education for the performance and governance of those institutions. In exercising its oversight role, the HEA acknowledges the value and importance of institutional autonomy and flexibility, while requiring that this should proceed within a transparent governance and accountability framework.


The Governing Bodies of the higher education institutions (HEI) are responsible for ensuring that good governance, conduct, management, and accountability arrangements are in place in their institutions. The HEA must be able to rely on assurances from the institutions that the systems and procedures in place are effective and ensure timely, responsive actions are taken to address issues identified.


Good governance is central to the effective operation of higher education institutions and requires that a framework of structures, policies, and processes is in place to achieve the desired outcomes.


The Governance Oversight Framework sets out the mechanisms in place for the HEA to effect robust oversight of the higher education institutions. This framework requests assurance from institutions of their compliance with relevant legislation, Government circulars, the Code of Practice for the Governance of State Bodies, 2016 (“Code of Governance”), statutes, charters, articles, and instruments of governance. The Governance Oversight Framework through which the HEA exercises oversight and seeks assurance from HEI Governing Bodies of their compliance, is grounded in:


The Higher Education Authority Act 2022 sets out the functions and powers HEA in relation to supporting the effective governance of designated institutions of higher education.  The primary legislation for designated institutions (as amended by the HEA Act) sets out the corresponding functions and responsibilities of institutions as regards the performance and governance of those institutions.


The Code of Practice for the Governance of State Bodies 2016 sets out the principles and requirements for best practice in governance by state bodies in relation to oversight, compliance, reporting requirements, appointment and responsibilities of Governing Bodies, systems of internal control, internal audit, ethics, and risk management.


The Governance Oversight Framework includes the following elements:


  • Annual Oversight Agreements
  • Annual Governance Statements
  • Annual Budget meetings
  • Annual Audited Financial Statements
  • Regular Institutional Reports
  • Protected Disclosure Procedures

HEA Governance Oversight Framework

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