Governance Apprenticeship

Governance Apprenticeship

Governance Apprenticeship

Creating diverse and inclusive boards is a highly complex challenge with no single solution. Such a complicated challenge requires a fresh approach and that is why, in 2022, we recruited our first Governor Apprentice.

Our aim is to help shorten the timeline to creating truly representative boards.  Lack of diversity at board level is, in part, caused by a limited pipeline of individuals from underrepresented backgrounds who have the requisite experience to join a board.  Our commitment to having a Governance Apprentice seeks to make a small contribution to addressing that issue.

The Governor Apprentice role provides the opportunity to shadow the University Court for one year, offering the skills, insights, and networks that will build a solid foundation for future board roles.  You will leave understanding the role of the non-executive charity trustee.

Who we are:

Since 1495, the University of Aberdeen has been and remains open to all and dedicated to the pursuit of truth in the service of others.

We are a broad based, research intensive, University, and we put students at the centre of everything we do. Outstanding in a wide range of discipline areas, Aberdeen is credited for its international reach and commercialisation of research ideas into spin out companies, receiving the Queen’s Award for Higher and Further Education in both 2017 and 2022.  The University has over 16,000 matriculated students and 3,600 staff representing 130 nationalities. We encourage bold thinking, creativity and innovation, and we nurture ambition with many opportunities for professional and personal development in an inclusive learning environment which challenges and inspires. 

The University continues to build on its achievements with our Strategy, Aberdeen 2040 launched on our 525th anniversary. You can read more about Aberdeen 2040 and our 4 themes; inclusive, interdisciplinary, international, and sustainable here.

Underpinning our high performance and significant growth is the recent completion of a new Science Teaching Hub, success in the National Student Survey and our imminent work to re-imagine our campuses. The University has also launched five interdisciplinary, cross-institution Research Centres that will catalyse world-leading research in our areas of strength. Our five Interdisciplinary Challenges are: Energy Transition; Social Inclusion and Cultural Diversity; Environment and Biodiversity; Data and Artificial Intelligence; and Health, Nutrition and Wellbeing.

Introduction to our Court:

The University’s governing body is known as the University Court.   As an Ancient Scottish University, Court responsibilities are detailed in a number of pieces of legislation dating back to 1858.   Most recently, this has been updated through the Higher Education Governance (Scotland) Act 2016.   Our sector governance guide, The Scottish Code of Good Higher Education Governance has just been updated in 2023 and provides one of our key references for good governance.

The University is a registered Scottish Charity and as such Court, as the governing body, is the board of trustees.

Court is responsible for guiding and approving the strategic direction of the University, has oversight of management functions delegated to the Principal and for ensuring we meet our legal obligations and have effective controls in place.

Court has 25 members including the ancient role of Rector, the Senior Governor, and Principal as well as a mix of independent members, bringing external perspective, academic and professional services staff, student and trade union nominated members.

Our independent members normally commit 12 to 14 days per annum and we would expect you to do the same.

What the University can offer the Apprentice

The University is committed to promoting equality, creating a culture of inclusivity and celebrating the diversity of its staff and student communities and the Court believes that its own membership should represent the diverse nature of the University community.

We have recently implemented a Governance Review and are refreshing our induction, buddying systems and wider development opportunities for Court members to further develop our effectiveness. 

We would particularly welcome applications from candidates who could bring a lived experience of the equality groups.  We would also welcome applications from members of our alumni community, who are keen to develop early experience of working in a board environment and add another dimension to their relationship with the University.

The role is a voluntary role, is not remunerated and is not eligible for visa sponsorship.

What does the Apprentice commit to:

The Governance Apprentice attends Court but is not a Trustee of the University.   You would therefore be able to contribute to the discussions but do not have a role in the decisions of Court.

To make the most of the opportunity, we would expect you to attend our 5 Court Meetings in person. 

We generally have an informal briefing or seminar session in the evening followed by a formal Court meeting the next day, which runs until mid-afternoon.    As a result, we would expect the Governance Apprentice to be based in the UK.   Reasonable expenses to attend the meeting will be reimbursed in line with our expenses policy.

It is hoped that the successful candidate will be able to join Court for its annual strategy sessions on 26th (pm only) and 27th September 9am to 3pm. The dates of the further Court meetings in 2023/24 academic year are:

  • Tuesday 21 November 2023 9am to 3pm
  • Wednesday 28 February 2024 9am to 3pm
  • Wednesday 24 April 2024 9am to 3pm
  • Wednesday 26 June 2024 9am to 3pm

The Governance Apprentice is expected to meet the same standards of good governance as any member of Court. The seven Nolan Principles of Public Life underpin our expectations and you will be expected to commit to them as part of the appointment process.       

Date and location of the formal interviews: Will be held online via Microsoft Teams during the afternoon of Monday 11 September.

How to apply:

The closing date for applications is 9am (BST) on Friday 18 August 2023.

Please apply by email, enclosing a CV and a short cover letter explaining your motivation and why you believe you are ready to become a Governance Apprentice, to:   Please use the subject header Governance Apprentice.