Insights from the University Governance Conference

Posted: 09/12/2020

by Carly Boon

Recently, I attended the University Governance Conference, which this year, was held virtually. The event was highly educational and brought awareness to many of the key points of Governance – the very same areas we regularly see institutions needing support with.

It was well noted by DVE Senior TEQSA Consultant Emeritus Professor Hilary Winchester during her presentation that 80% of TEQSA’s adverse findings are due to inadequate Corporate and Academic Governance structures and 70% are due to insufficient Management and Human Resources. This figure is quite staggering; yet not surprising given some of the gaps that we routinely find as we support both existing providers, and those seeking their initial registration.

The conference proved that getting the right advice early is crucial. Governance reviews, health checks, staff training, attendance at conferences like these, and deep familiarisation with the TEQSA domains and requirements, are all great ways to ensure that your institution doesn’t fall down at this critical hurdle.

With so many strategic decisions, changes, adjustments and ‘pivots’(which is in competition with ‘unprecedented’ for 2020’s word of the year!) this year, it’s critical that your governance has kept up.

Can you, hand on heart, honestly confirm that all of the necessary decisions have been through all of the right decision points? Have your decisions been adequately documented? Have the right policies been a) adhered to and b) updated via the correct channels when needing adjustment? Do those decision-making boards have the right mix of membership?

One surprising note from our work is that we are coming across an increasing number of institutions who either aren’t aware of or haven’t followed their Governance review schedules. If you’re unsure when it is listed in your review schedule, then now is a good time to check. Many ‘business as usual’ activities have been deprioritised during COVID-19; it’s a good time to reacquaint with these schedules and ensure you have engaged your choice of external reviewers.

If you would like some support, whether that’s engaging an external review, conducting your Education Services for Overseas Students (ESOS) audit, or undergoing a ‘health check’ to see where your institution is up to, contact me today on 0430 090 550 or email