The University of South Wales is very well-equipped when it comes to corporate governance. It operates under a system of three units; Board of Directors, the management team, and a set of committees that perform different functions. A survey into the corporate governance reveals a hierarchical structure that is expected of any traditional institution. In spite of its structure, this system functions well. The different dockets come together in ways that inform one another and provide solutions to problems, facilitate decision-making, and foster new initiatives that facilitate the success of this institution.
Summary and Findings
Corporate Governance Structure
The corporate governing structure in South Wales University has three main components that perform different duties. The three are board of governors, management team, and the committees. They all come together to create a governing structure that facilitates certain practices comprising of the corporate culture in this institution. All components of the governing structure perform the leadership role at the university that is a set of different corporate practices.
All three perform very different functions that inform the overall practices and rules governing this institution. Every committee, team, and body can make independent decisions pertaining to matters that affect its functions. However, the Board of Directors is still supreme because all the decisions have to be approved (Aluchna & Idowu, 2017: 11). The Board often delegates some decision-making aspects to the management team. However, it still conducts the approval process and is mainly the last decision-maker in this structure. The Executive office that consists of the vice-chancellors can also make certain decisions but others need to go through the board especially when they fall under its oversight. The decisions also need to be communicated promptly.
The three branches of this structure work independently from one another but have the same members. For instance, there are members who sit in more than 1 committee. Others are part of the board but are still members of the committee. Hence, in spite of the independence of each branch, there is always a tendency to share information and work in complementary of one another (Hatch, 2018). The Board is small in size in spite of having many committees because of dual multiple memberships. The same is effective and facilitates efficiency in decision-making.
The corporate governance at the University of South Wales focuses more on the business and financial aspects of the institution. The practices of the university aim to secure its financial wellbeing so it can provide the best education possible. One of the main practices of the corporate governing body is the facilitation of cash flow that is in turn helpful in aspects like facility improvement and expansion. For instance, the University of South Wales seeks expansion in other places like Dubai. The approach ensures a revenue stream while contributing to the reputation of the school and promoting the access to education in the international field. The corporate governance in the company also premises on the need to facilitate the interests of the institution while ensuring ethical behaviour. For instance, while the university is keen on expanding its financial capability, it strives to enhance a responsible use of government funding. Every single aspect of financing is subject to auditing to ensure ethical behaviour.
Additionally, the corporate governance structure in this institution is hierarchical in nature. The decision-making and communication follow the traditions of the hierarchy to the latter. For instance, the decisions begin from the bottom of the hierarchy that may consist of the student body to the top tier encompassing the Board of Directors. For instance, the student body may come up with an initiative that the members think will transform one aspect of education at the school. The body does not have the authority to make such decisions that would need to go through the ranks to the top tier Burke, 2017). Communication takes the same effect and has to follow a line of bureaucracy that emanates from the hierarchical structure of corporate governance. The Board can make a decision goes through every docket before it reaches the bottom tier. The structure, therefore, presents some challenges about the communication of the governing body in this institution (Cornelissen & Cornelissen, 2017: 10). Too many procedures make open communication and feedback nearly impossible. Once the executives at the top make decisions, there is hardly any room for follow-ups and conversations with other people providing the much-needed feedback. The lack of open communication channels in this structure could have detrimental effects on the quality of the leadership in place. More so, the lack of feedback options and consultation in decision-making contributes to the lack of motivation among some members. They are likely to feel undervalued, which will impact the commitment to their roles in the long-run.
Even so, it emerged that the structure allows for members to serve different dockets in the governing body. For instance, a person may serve in one committee and another at the same time. The position can bridge the communication challenges brought forth by the hierarchical structure. The dual member may relay information to both committees and seek feedback on the same. However, the situation presents confidentiality challenges within the governing body. There are some aspects that need to be kept confidential especially when they only apply to a specific committee or management team. The situation also brings confusion and could lead to a conflict of interest for members who have a role to play in two or more committees.
Board of Directors
The Board of Directors has a clear set of duties that inform its practices. The main responsibility is to facilitate oversight of the different activities taking place in this institution. The Board ensures that every action meets the values and objectives of USW. Additionally, the Board ensures adequate use of the institution's resources. It acts whenever there are issues about misappropriation and wastage of resources (Luthens et al, 2015: 23). It oversees the solvency of the university and the acquisition of assets to secure its financial future. Moreover, the Board is at the very core of the funding and budgeting towards different projects. It assesses its yearly income and plans it accordingly. Furthermore, the Board determine the suspension, dismissal, remuneration, appointment, and ranking of senior employees in the University. For instance, it assesses aspects like tenure to determine the fitness of a professor. Lastly, the Board determines the working conditions of members of the staff.
The Board of Directors in USW consists of 24 members in total. The first group of members consists of lay governors who mainly provide external knowledge and expertise. They provide a larger picture in deliberations that surpasses mere knowledge on education. For instance, it consists of Gareth Williams who is a senior solicitor, Sandra Spray whose career is in business, Professor David Baker who is also a financial analyst and consultant, businessman Graham Edwards, and town planner Chris Freegard among many more. Most of these members do not serve in the education docket in any capacity but have extensive knowledge in other areas. The next category is one of co-opted members who have vast knowledge in the field of education. They also Board also comprises of a vice-chancellor, a member of the staff, and a student representative named Megan Wilson.
One aspect to note about the Board is a lack of diversity. Out of the 24 members, only 6 represent the female gender. The percentage is quite low considering the positive impacts of gender balance at the work place. It provides different perspective and expertise that can ensure the success of a board (Rao & Titl, 2016: 12). The lack of adequate female representation is inconsistent with the standards of diversity necessary for success.
The lack of diversity is also apparent in the dimensions of age in this board. The average age for the members of the board is 50. Most are between the ages of 60 and 45. In fact, the student representative is the only young board member. The situation presents many risks, one of them being the lack of independent and fresh ideas. The older members of the board would most likely showcase groupthink as Bolman and Deal (2017) opine. The presence of young people ensures fresh ideas that can transform USW tremendously. More so, most of the members are near retiring age or have already retired. The situation presents retention challenges because some may die. Others are more susceptible to diseases because of age, while some may not be able to perform well. All these factors necessitate the need for young people at the board who have the zeal to work. The university also consists of many young people that the board serves. They are better placed to understand what they need . Therefore, having more young people would warrant a higher rate of satisfaction among the students.
Lastly, there are diversity issues in terms of race. USW has many international students. It also seeks to expand to other areas in the international community (Abdulla et al, 2016: 11). Therefore, it is surprising that 90% the board is white. The all-white board is not in a position to understand the needs of different students and faculty from other races.
In spite of these diversity challenges, the skill set level in the Board of Directors is well-balanced. It consists of individuals who are competence in business, finance, law, management, and education. They are all highly accomplished individuals who are influential in their respective areas of expertise. Hence, all this knowledge and skills come together to impact every aspect and activity in USW.
The Management Team
The management team consists of 4 members; two men and two ladies. To this extent, one can assert that this management team is diversified through the equal representation of men and women. However, the members are all white, which fails to incorporate other races into leadership even though the institution consists of members from all parts of the world. The management team handles leadership in general and deliberates on decisions (Tricker & Tricker, 2015: 44). There are also instances when the members have to engage in executive-decision making. The management team is second in line to the Board of Governors and wields a lot of power over decisions. There is also a lack of age balance since the four members are all above the age of 50. Given the influence of the management team, there is need for members who are younger and can relate to the students.
Furthermore, the management team is very competent given the skill level of its members. For instance, Julie Lydon has immense experience having been part of the university since 2006 (University of South Wales, 2018). She served under the capacities of Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Pro Vice-Chancellor for a very long time. She also held the position of auditor for the Quality Assurance Agency of as of the higher education docket and is currently holding the same position in a panel in Wales. She is a highly acclaimed chancellor who has a range of knowledge and skills that are useful in the management position.
Professor Helen Langton has been a dean at the Faculty of Education, Health and Sciences at the University of Derby (University of South Wales, 2018: 2). She was also an Associate Dean at Coventry University and has served in the Advisory Board of Health Education England.
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