Governance in the new regulatory era — part two: three new focus areas

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Given the changing nature of Australian higher-education providers (including their continued globalisation and focus on commercial activities), and the potentially serious consequences of non-compliance with governance obligations, members of governing bodies need to focus their attention on the key governance risks for their organisations.

The recent Centro decision (Australian Securities and Investments Commission v Healey [2011] FCA 717) put the spotlight on governance in the corporate sector. Part one of this series described the governance framework in which higher-education providers are required to operate. Part two discusses three key governance focus areas to consider in light of this regulatory framework.  

Appointing council members with an appropriate mix of skills and experience is clearly an important part of ensuring that the governing body is well equipped to oversee the higher-education provider’s operations (as well as being a specific obligation identified in the Threshold Standards). The requisite skills will obviously depend on the nature and scale of the provider’s operations. For example, governance of providers that undertake research will require specific knowledge about research activities and research funding. Similarly, governance of providers with overseas operations will need to have some experience in doing business overseas and the provision of education to international students…

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