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Leadership and Governance

The Board of Governors (currently comprising 20 members) is the Non-Executive body that, with the University Executive, sets Northumbria’s Vision and Strategy and determines the academic and organisational character of the University. It approves the University’s budget which supports the Strategy and our financial sustainability, and provides governance across the activities of the University.

The Board and the University Executive work in tandem to deliver the University’s priorities and achieve its sustainability and success. The Board is responsible for the stewardship and safeguarding of the University’s resources, assets and reputation, and assures itself of compliance with legal and regulatory obligations. It appoints the University’s internal and external auditors.

The Board appoints the Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive (“the Vice-Chancellor”), who is the Accountable Officer of the University.  The Vice-Chancellor, who is also a Governor, chairs the University Executive and works closely with the Chair of the Board. 

The Board delegates some of its responsibilities through:

  • ensuring that the Vice-Chancellor effectively leads the academic and executive management of the University: The University Executive is the University’s senior leadership team, comprising individuals with academic and professional support portfolios. The role of the University Executive is to advise the Vice-Chancellor who is responsible for strategic and operational management.
  • its Committees: The Board has committees with responsibility for Employment and Finance, Strategic Performance, Audit, Nominations and Remuneration. The Academic Board, chaired by the Vice-Chancellor, makes reports to the Board of Governors.

The Board is the Trustee Board of Northumbria University, which is an exempt charity.  13 of our 20 Governors/Trustees (“Governors”) are independent and external to the University. They come from a wide range of higher education and other professional backgrounds. The Board provides effective governance in line with the University’s regulatory obligations and in accordance with the Committee of University Chairs’ Higher Education Code. It also adds value by offering independent, expert input and constructive challenge into the decisions of the University Executive.

There are five meetings of the Board each year (normally September, November, February, May and July).

The role of each Committee of the Board of Governors, and the Academic Board, is summarised below.  Further details can be found here.

Summary of Roles

Committee Role/Responsibilities
Employment and Finance Committee
  • Approves and monitors employment strategy and policy, finance strategy, estates, IT and other capital projects to support the University Strategy 2018-23
Strategic Performance Committee
  • Advisory role to the University Executive and the Board of Governors in relation to performance against the University Strategy 2018-23, and the related strategic plans
Remuneration Committee
  • Oversight of the remuneration policy and remuneration of senior staff, including the performance-based reward scheme
  • Determines base pay decisions
Audit Committee
  • Provides assurance to the Board of Governors on the adequacy of the University’s framework for financial compliance and integrity, via the annual report and financial statements
  • Oversight of internal and external audit arrangements
  • Oversight of the wider control and compliance environment including risk management, value for money, data quality and assurance arrangements, health and safety measures and whistleblowing.

Nominations Committee
  • Makes recommendations to the Board on its membership and those of its Committees
  • Oversight of Governor recruitment and development
Academic Board
  • Advises the Vice-Chancellor on matters of academic strategy and policy, and (although not a Committee of the Board) makes reports to the Board of Governors
  • Remit includes academic quality and standards and enhancement, the student experience and research and innovation activities
  • Sub-committees oversee education, research, knowledge exchange and international policy and performance matters.


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