How Green are your Governors?

3rd April 2014

The EAUC is a Member-led organisation. We represent you, and ensure that your views on topical issues are conveyed to the rest of the sector and to the Government. One important way we can do this is by responding to consultations from the Government and other organisations.

The Committee of University Chairs is consulting on the HE Code of Governance until 18 April. The EAUC welcomes this significant opportunity for its Members to engage with their University Secretariat and ensure the principals and values of social, economic and environmental sustainability are at the heart of institutional governance.

It is this Code of Practice which reflects accepted good practice so it is a critical opportunity to ensure UK universities are fit for purpose in protecting and improving quality of life through our teaching, research, students and sustainable campuses. No other type of organisation has such an opportunity to contribute so much and with that comes a responsibility to do so.

We encourage our Members to join us in this critical consultation by either replying direct to the consultation or submitting any comments to us by Wednesday 16 April and we will include as part of the EAUC submission. Please email your response to

The EAUC are working in partnership with other sector leadership bodies in drafting a Guide to sector Governance as we seek to reposition and recommunicate sustainability as key components of 21st Century organisational governance. More information on this coming soon.


For ease of reference, the paragraphs that relate to ethics and sustainable development are copied below. The full document can be found here:

Questions on the draft Code should be initially directed to Alastair Osborn.

Ethics and sustainable development in the HE Code of Governance

Governance is not a static concept and this is reflected by the consideration of ethics, equality and diversity, and academic governance as key values in this revised version. Dynamic expectations of governance mean the new Code should not be seen as supporting a 'tick box' approach and governing bodies of HEIs are encouraged to adopt the 'spirit' of the new Code as well as its 'letter'.

2 The governing body must protect institutional reputation by ensuring clear ethical standards, policies and procedures are in place.
2.1. The governing body must ensure the highest standards of ethical behaviour among its members who must avoid conflicts of interest and act solely in the interests of the institution at all times.

P21 Challenges to HE Governance
In general, the challenges to HE governance are of two kinds: those generic to all kinds of corporate governance, and those specific to HE. The former are likely to become more acute as competitive pressures increase on institutions and include:

Para 4 Line 8 meeting expectations concerning environmental sustainability;
To deal with such challenges institutions will have to ensure the effective recruitment and support of governors, and adopt best practice in corporate governance from other sectors.

More generally, governing bodies have an important oversight role in ensuring that HEIs play their part in protecting and improving the quality of life for current and future generations, through the skills and knowledge gained by students, research and knowledge exchange and by having sustainable campuses.  This represents a considerable opportunity for HEIs and some are playing a leading role in sustainable development; however the challenge is significant and governors have an important championing role.  As part of such developments, HEIs will need to demonstrate a strong commitment to carbon reduction, and associated corporate social responsibility

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