CGHE Webinar 202

Still unwieldly, male, pale and stale? Isomorphic influences on English university governing bodies

Date: Tuesday, 13 April 2021 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Location: Zoom webinar
Speaker(s):
  • Alison Wheaton, UCL Institute of Education

Event Materials

This event is now archived and we are pleased to provide the following event media and assets, along with the original event overview.

Governing bodies have been mostly overlooked in studies of university governance. Historic UK research found a predominance of governing body members were older, white men with lay members coming from professional and industrial backgrounds. More recently, the focus has shifted to female participation. Why does English university governing body composition matter? The regulatory regime re-enforces the role of governing bodies. Scholars have identified trends towards boardism along with the corporatization and laicization of university governance and raised concerns about the failure of shared governance.

This webinar reviews findings from a study which considers how the concept of isomorphism applies to the study of university governing body attributes. It commences with an analysis of sector-level documentary evidence since the mid-1980s in which significant isomorphic pressures on governing body attributes, including size, lay majority and staff and student membership, are detected. A new dataset across 120 English universities is then compared to available historic data, revealing a remarkable increase in the homogeneity of governing body size and member types along with increased diversity of member characteristics. Considerations for future research are also explored.

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