The University of Edinburgh has taken the opportunity presented by the Scottish Code of Good Higher Education Code of Governance to review the existing Court Committee structure.
A Sub-Group of Court was set up to oversee the implementation of the Code and undertook a review of the Committee structure. The structure was reviewed with the following principles in mind to:
It found that the current structure while robust and comprehensive, is complex in terms of reporting arrangements, with Court Committees functioning at different levels of strategic focus.
From 1 August 2014 there will be a new Court Committee structure, which was approved by the University Court to support its work.
There will be a small number of Standing Committees of Court i.e. Committees that will report directly to Court (as set out in Court’s Standing Orders). Key changes are a brand new Policy and Resources Committee which will have oversight of the University’s key resources and enablers - people, estates and finance; replacing functions currently undertaken by the Finance and General Purposes Committee. There will be a brand new Exceptions Committee; which will enable decisions to be taken quickly between Court meetings, on an exceptional basis only! Audit Committee has a new role to provide oversight of risk to Court and becomes the Audit and Risk Committee. The Knowledge Strategy Committee becomes a joint Court and for the first time Senate Committee, recognising the shared academic and corporate considerations around the University’s information and digital space. The other Standing Committees are: the Nominations Committee, the Remuneration Committee and the Committee on University Benefactors. The primary function of these Committees is to provide assurance to Court and take decisions on areas under their remit.
Reporting to the Standing Committees are Thematic Committees of Court. These Committees generally focus on a particular operational activity within the University such as estates or risk management. Reports from these Committees only need to go to their respective standing Committees. Thematic Committees can also submit standalone issues which require consideration by Court, directly to Court. One notable change is that the Staff Committee has been renamed the People Committee, given its responsibility to take forward the delivery of the recently approved People Strategy.
There’s a key difference between the governance and management of the organisation. The Central Management Group (CMG) can make decisions on management or operational issues, policies plans. Terms of Reference have been developed for CMG setting out that it acts as a forum for debate and decision-making on initiatives and issues for the University. It is responsible for managing the University’s performance and for assisting the Principal in the delivery of the University’s strategy. This remains distinct from the Principal’s Strategy Group which considers and discusses strategic matters.
Supporting the streamlined reporting arrangements are new templates for committee papers, committee agendas and committee report papers. Further guidance on preparing papers, agendas and committee reports is available below: