Responsibilities of the Council
The Council has adopted the Higher Education Code of Governance published by the Committee of University Chairs, and accordingly has approved the following Statement of Primary Responsibilities:
- To approve the mission and strategic vision of the College, its long-term academic and business plans and key performance indicators, and to ensure that these meet the interests of the College’s stakeholders.
- To safeguard the good name and values of the College.
- To appoint the President as the College’s chief executive, and to put in place suitable arrangements for monitoring his/her performance.
- To appoint other executive members of the Council as specified in the Statutes.
- To delegate authority to the President, as chief executive, as advised by the President’s Board, for the academic, corporate, financial, estate and human resource management of the College. And to establish and keep under regular review the policies, procedures and limits within such management functions as shall be undertaken by and under the authority of the President.
- To assess risk to the College and to position its management and mitigation.
- To ensure the establishment and monitoring of systems of control and accountability, including financial and operational controls, risk assessment, and procedures for handling internal grievances and for managing conflicts of interest.
- To ensure that processes are in place for regular monitoring and evaluation of the performance and effectiveness of the College against its approved plans and key performance indicators, and that where possible and appropriate, these are benchmarked against other comparable institutions.
- To conduct its business in accordance with best practice in higher education corporate governance and with the principles of public life drawn up by the Committee on Standards in Public Life.
- To be the principal financial and business authority of the College, to ensure that proper books of account are kept, to approve the annual budget and financial statements, and to have overall responsibility for the College’s assets, property and estate.
- To be the College’s legal authority and, as such, to ensure that systems are in place for meeting all the College’s legal obligations, including those arising from contracts and other legal commitments made in the College’s name.
- In accordance with the College’s Charter and Statutes, to act as trustee for any property, legacy, endowment, bequest or gift in support of the work and welfare of the College.
- To ensure that the College’s Charter and Statutes are adhered to at all times, with appropriate advice available to enable this to happen.
- To be the employing authority for all staff in the institution and to be responsible for establishing the College’s human resources strategy.
- To establish processes to monitor and evaluate the performance and effectiveness of the Council itself.
- To appoint a Clerk to the Council and ensure that, if the person appointed has managerial responsibilities in the institution, there is an appropriate separation in the lines of accountability.
In accordance with the College’s Charter and Statutes, the Council is responsible for the efficient management and good conduct of all aspects of the affairs of the College (including its finances and property). It is required to present audited financial statements for each financial year. As such it is responsible for keeping proper accounting records which disclose with reasonable accuracy at any time the financial position of the College and enable it to ensure that the financial statements are prepared in accordance with the Charter of Incorporation, the Statement of Recommended Practice (SORP) on Accounting in Higher Education Institutions and other relevant accounting standards. In addition, and in accordance with the Office for Students’ Regulatory Framework for Higher Education in England, the Council is required to ensure that the College complies with the Office for Students’ conditions of registration, and with its accounts direction.
In causing the financial statements to be prepared, the Council has ensured that:
- suitable accounting policies are selected and applied consistently;
- judgements and estimates are made that are reasonable and prudent;
- the SORP, applicable accounting standards, and the Office for Students’ accounts direction has been followed, subject to any material departures being disclosed and explained in the financial statements;
- the College has adequate resources to continue in operation for the foreseeable future and for this reason the financial statements are prepared on a going concern basis.
The Council has taken reasonable steps to:
- ensure that funds from the Office for Students and UK Research and Innovation are used only for the purposes for which they have been given and in accordance with any other conditions which these bodies may from time to time prescribe, which ensures regularity in the use of this public funding;
- ensure that there are appropriate financial and management controls in place to safeguard public funds and funds from other sources, and the propriety of their use, including policies on whistleblowing, considering grievances and research misconduct;
- safeguard the assets of the College and prevent and detect fraud; secure the economical, efficient and effective management of the College’s resources and expenditure.
The key elements of the College’s system of internal control, which is designed to discharge the responsibilities set out above, include the following:
- clear definitions of the authority delegated to Deans of faculties and heads of academic and administrative departments and divisions as set out in the College’s approved Levels of Authority;
- approval by Council each year of a College budget and a five-year rolling College plan which, whilst driven from the academic standpoint, are based on detailed financial projections of all College budget centres;
- a comprehensive monthly review of the financial performance of all budget centres and update of forecast outturns with regular financial reports to the President and senior College staff, to the President’s Board and to the Finance Committee;
- clearly defined and formalised requirements for approval and control of expenditure, with investment decisions involving capital or revenue expenditure being subject to formal detailed appraisal and review according to approval levels set by the Council;
- a comprehensive Financial Ordinance, detailing financial controls and procedures, approved by the Audit and Risk Committee and the Council;
- independent internal auditors, whose risk-based Strategic Audit Plan of work (based upon the College’s Risk Register) is approved by, and conclusions subsequently reviewed by, the Audit and Risk Committee.
The Audit and Risk Committee, on behalf of the Council, regularly reviews the effectiveness of the internal controls in the College and its subsidiaries. Any system of internal control can, however, only provide reasonable, but not absolute, assurance against material misstatement or loss.