July 11, 2009

Guide for Members of Higher Education Governing Bodies in the UK - Guidance on Whistleblowing

1. Universities and colleges of higher education, like other public bodies, have a duty to conduct their affairs in a responsible and transparent way and to take into account both the requirements of funding bodies (including of course the Funding Councils) and the standards set out in the reports of the Committee on Standards in Public Life. In addition, they are committed to the principles of academic freedom embodied in their own charters, statutes and articles of government, and enshrined in the Education Reform Act 1988.

2. Members of staff are often the first to know when things are going wrong in an institution, whether this concerns financial malpractice, the abrogation of appropriate and agreed procedures, or departures from the statutory or other requirements for good governance. All institutions should establish official channels through which such concerns can be raised, for example through heads of department, at official committees, or through staff representatives, including the accredited trades unions. In the normal course of events, concerns should be raised through these channels. But members of staff often feel, rightly or wrongly, that their own position in the institution will be jeopardised if they raise a particular concern in this way, and sometimes the usual channels may indeed be inappropriate.

3. Good practice would suggest that:

a. Allegations of injustice or discrimination against individuals should be dealt with under established procedures approved by the governing body or, if it is a student grievance, through the machinery established by the institution for this purpose.

b. Allegations about an individual’s financial conduct should normally be made to the head of internal audit. He/she is required to have direct reporting relationships both with the vice-chancellor/principal/chief executive, as the officer designated by the governing body and by the Funding Council to be accountable for the control of the institution’s funds, and with the audit committee established by the governing body. Internal audit should investigate the allegation and report to a higher authority as appropriate. Where, for whatever reason, the person making the allegation considers it inappropriate to make it to the head of internal audit, the provisions of sub-paragraph c apply.

c. Allegations about other issues could concern, for example, the behaviour of a senior officer of the institution, or a lay/independent member of the governing body, or the propriety of committee or other collective decisions. Such allegations should be made, as the person making the allegation deems appropriate, to the vice-chancellor/principal/chief executive, or to the secretary/registrar/clerk to the governing body, or to the chair of the governing body. If for any reason none of these individuals is deemed to be appropriate, the allegation should be made to the chair of the audit committee.

4. In any case where an allegation is made under sub-paragraphs 3b and 3c, the person to whom the allegation is made should make a record of its receipt and of what action is taken. Any allegation made under this procedure shall normally be the subject of a preliminary investigation either by the person to whom the allegation is made or more usually by a person or persons appointed by him/her. Institutions should take steps to ensure that investigations are not carried out by the person who may ultimately have to reach a decision on the matter. Where no investigation is carried out, and the allegation is effectively dismissed, the person making the allegation should be informed and given the opportunity to repeat the allegation to some other person or authority within the institution. This need not be done where an allegation is dismissed after an investigation. The person or persons against whom the allegation is made must also be told of it and the evidence supporting it. They should be allowed to comment before the investigation is concluded and a report made. The results of the investigation shall be reported to the audit committee.

5. Any person making an allegation under sub-paragraphs 3b or 3c should be guaranteed that the allegation will be regarded as confidential to the receiver until a formal investigation is launched. Thereafter, the identity of the person making the allegation may be kept confidential, if requested, unless this is incompatible with a fair investigation, or if there is an overriding reason for disclosure (for example, if police involvement is required). Provided the allegation has been made lawfully, without malice and in the public interest, the employment position of the person should not be disadvantaged because he/she made the allegation.

6. Institutions may wish to consider using the policy checklist proposed by Public Concern at Work so far as it applies to higher education institutions.

March 2009
Lots of wishful thinking above, and assumptions that HEIs can self-govern according to the principles above, nevertheless worth knowing so we can try to hold them accountable.

From: http://www.hefce.ac.uk


Anonymous said...

More retoric from an organisation that had the worst bullies as leaders on their Equality Challenge Unit.

Character Education Programs said...

Very nice article. Thanks alot for sharing.

Term Papers said...

This is a fantastic presentation thanks for sharing...!