Annex C

Framework for the Management Reviews

This annex describes the framework used by the UGC in conducting and reporting on the Management Reviews. The Management Review Steering Group (MRSG) in consultation with the Consultative Group of institutional representatives developed this framework during the preparation for the reviews. It has been developed during the course of the reviews following feedback from the institutions.

Scope and objectives of the reviews

The reviews cover all the management processes and systems in the areas of academic administration, research administration, maintenance and development of the estate, procurement, student support services, human resources, IT and finance. They are qualitative in nature and seek to promote self-assessment and self-improvement within the institutions through dialogue, discussion and analysis of issues with the consultants and members of the Review Panels. They also seek to promote the sharing of experiences and best practice.

Overall approach

The approach to the review is informed by recognition of the diversity in the existing management structures and processes of individual institutions stemming from their different missions, histories and cultures. The MRSG considers that it would be wrong for any review to seek to impose a uniform management style across different institutions. It therefore distinguishes between the principles of good management (as it perceives them) and which it would therefore expect all institutions to display, and the form in which these principles are (or perhaps, are not) put in place. The MRSG is concerned with the manifestation of these principles and recognises that there is a wide range of valid approaches to their implementation.

A list of good management principles was developed with the Consultative Group of institutional representatives. These relate to the identification of strategic direction and its implementation, the overall planning, budgeting and resource allocation processes and the mechanisms for feedback, self-learning, adjustment and control. This list may evolve during the course of the Management Reviews following feedback from institutions and members of the Consultative Group. The current list is provided in Annex D.

Role of the Consultative Group

The Consultative Group comprises a representative of each of the UGC-funded institutions. Its role is to comment on the framework and processes for the Management Reviews, so as to help ensure their appropriateness and effectiveness, and to facilitate the process of sharing good practices among the institutions. As noted below, each Review Panel will include one member of the consultative group.

Processes involved in the Management Reviews

The Management Reviews involve four key steps:

  • information collection and analysis;

  • preparatory visits by PricewaterhouseCoopers consultants;

  • Review Panel visits;

  • report preparation.

In terms of information collection and analysis, the intention is that the Review Panels are well briefed on the institutional context, management structures and processes in advance of their visits. For this purpose, each institution is asked to provide some background documentation. This does not require institutions to prepare extensive new documentation nor to undertake further internal reviews. In order to help minimise the burden of preparation, the MRSG (again in consultation with the Consultative Group) developed a proforma providing a list of questions to which institutions may respond either by providing existing documents which address the same issues of by drafting brief (one paragraph) answers.

The next stage is the preparatory visits by PricewaterhouseCoopers consultants. These preparatory visits provide an opportunity for institutions to discuss the issues raised in the background documentation in more detail. The outcomes of these visits are then written up by the consultants in a briefing paper for the Review Panel in advance of the Panel visit.

The reviews themselves are undertaken by Review Panels consisting of about 10 or 11 members in total: seven or eight from the MRSG, two members from PricewaterhouseCoopers (one of whom will act as the Review Panel Secretary); and one member from the Consultative Group. The Review Panel works according the principle of peer review - each member will have management experience in institutions of higher education. The main role of the Review Panels is to examine and test the institution's management processes and systems through discussion and dialogue with institutional staff.

The Review Panel visits last for about one and a half days. They involve a series of meetings and discussions with the senior management including the heads of academic and non-academic departments. At the end of the visits, the Review Panel provides some initial feedback. This is followed at a later date by a comprehensive report on the effectiveness of the management of the institution including good practice observed and suggestions for improvements (see below).

Report preparations

The reporting preparations involve three key stages:

  • preparation of a draft report by the Review Panel;

  • submission of the draft report to the institution to check factual accuracy;

  • finalisation and publication of the report.

  • The institutions are invited to also publish a statement describing their comments on the report and any actions they plan to make by way of improvement.

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