Council effectiveness review 2013/14

“The governing body shall keep its effectiveness under regular review. Not less than every five years it shall undertake a formal and rigorous evaluation of its own effectiveness, and that of its committees, and ensure that a parallel review is undertaken of the senate / academic board and its committees.”

Guide for Members of Higher Education Governing Bodies in the UK (Incorporates the Governance Code of Practice and General Principles) – CUC March 2009 

A review of the effectiveness of the University Of Exeter’s Council was conducted was in 2005 and a review of Senate followed this in 2006. There were huge changes across the higher education landscape in the seven years that followed, and with the arrival of a new Chair of Council in August 2012 and a new Chief Operating Officer in April 2013, it was agreed that a full review of Council, its committees and Dual Assurance / Dual Engagement would be carried out during academic year 2013/14.

The results of the effectiveness review were be published widely, including on the web and in the University’s annual report. In July 2014, Council received the Final Report from the Council Effectivenes review and discussed and approved the Steering Group's response to it.

Final report - Review of the effectiveness of the Council 2013/14

Final Report from the Review of the Effectiveness of the Council 2013/14

Response and Action Plan to the Review of the Effectiveness of the Council 2013/14

The review process began with the establishment of a Steering Group who will be guardians of the process and oversee it on behalf of Council.

It is best practice within the sector to ensure that the steering group has a member who is independent of the University, but who has relevant sector and governance experience. Their role is to provide external guidance and input throughout the review process.

In addition to the members of the Steering Group an external HE Governance Consultant was been engaged to advise on and facilitate the process. They will brought experience of carrying out effectiveness reviews and best practice in doing so. They were independent of the University.


  • The Chair of Council (Chair) – Sarah Turvill
  • Two Deputy Vice-Chancellors (recommended by VCEG) – Professor Janice Kay and Professor Mark Goodwin
  • Chief Operating Officer (COO) – Geoff Pringle
  • Two lay members of Council (recommended by the Chair of Council) – Mr Peter Lacey and Ms Judy Hargadon
  • Two elected members of Council (recommended by the Chair of Council) – Professor Debra Myhill and Mr Pete Hodges
  • ASA Member (recommended by the Chair of Council) – Dr Alan Outram
  • External Independent Member – Lee Saunders, Registrar and Secretary, University of Birmingham

In attendance:

  • External Facilitator - John Lauwerys, HE Governance Consultant
  • Executive Officer to the COO (Secretary), Jill Williams

Council’s role: The Council is ultimately responsible for all the University’s activities, determining its future strategy, and fostering an environment in which Exeter’s mission can be achieved, as well as ensuring that its financial affairs are prudently managed and that senior management is held to account for the efficient and effective running of the University.

The following terms of reference were approved by Council for the Review of its effectiveness:

  • To review the effectiveness of Council in fulfilling its role and those responsibilities set out under the Statement of Primary Responsibilities;
  • To make recommendations to Council that will lead to improvements in the effectiveness and efficiency of Council, its committees and Dual Assurance / Dual Engagement.
  • To ensure that emerging Dual Assurance streams have the appropriate governance structures in place behind them;
  • To give assurance to Council and other stakeholders that it is fulfilling its role optimally and upholding the model financial memorandum between HEFCE and the institution.
DateAgenda and papers
Friday 6 December

CER-14-01 Minutes: 6 December 2013 

CER-13-01 Terms of Reference and Membership
CER-13-02 Council Effectiveness Review Report 2005
CER-13-02 Annex A
CER-13-02 Annex B
CER-13-03 Framework for Identifying Governing Body Effectiveness
CER-13-03 Annex
CER-13-04 Assessment of Effectiveness Criteria
CER-13-05 Next steps
CER-13-06 Constitution, powers and primary responsibilities
CER-13-07 Introduction of Dual Assurance at Exeter
CER-13-07 Annex A
CER-13-07 Annex B
CER-13-07 Annex C

Wednesday 26 February

CER-14-06 Minutes: 26 February 2014‌

Agenda 260213
CER-14-01 Minutes: 6 December 2013
CER-14-02 Matters Arising
CER-14-03 1:1 Interviews
CER-14-04 Next Steps
CER-14-05 Senate Review

Wednesday 9 April

CER-14-11 Minutes: 9 April 2014

Agenda 090414

CER-14-07a Update on the Senate Effectiveness Review timeline
CER-14-07b Mapping exercise 
CER-14-08   Interim Report
CER-14-09   Statement of Primary Responsibilities of the Council
CER-14-10   Governance Code

Friday 23 May

Agenda 230514

CER-14-12 Final Report