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Collaborating universities adopt new Governance Code

The Dutch universities have an important social mission: to provide academic education for future generations, to conduct scientific and scholarly research and to develop and share scientific knowledge in close interaction with society. Successful fulfilment of this broad social mission requires good governance and oversight. In the new Dutch Universities Governance Code, the universities have defined the guiding principles in this regard. This new Code is one of the joint actions from the vision paper ‘Knowledge for our future’.

The new Code was drawn up by a broad-based committee under the leadership of Jaap van Manen (president-commissioner of APG and former chair of the Corporate Governance Code Monitoring Committee). The committee has introduced a number of key updates to the old code:

  • The scope of the code has been expanded. In addition to executive and supervisory board members, the new code also calls faculty board members to account concerning their responsibilities. 
  • The new code devotes explicit attention to promoting an open culture and creating a safe environment. 
  • In contrast to the old code, the new code discusses the importance of a good relationship between board members and participation bodies. 
  • As universities are increasingly collaborating with other organisations, a separate principle has been dedicated to good governance of partnerships. 

 

In the process of writing the code, the committee held numerous discussions with stakeholders, including supervisory board members, executive boards, representative advisory bodies and faculty boards. A public online consultation was organised as well. It is the committee’s intention that the dialogue on good governance will not end with the adoption of the new code: the code explicitly invites board members, supervisors and participation bodies within universities to consult with each other regarding the pursuit of good governance. 

The previous code dated from 2006 and had since only been modified in connection with changes to the relevant legislation (most recently in 2017). The new code was made available online for consultation last summer and then definitively adopted during the General Assembly of the VSNU on 22 November. It will take effect on 1 January 2020. The 14 universities will report on compliance with the code in their annual reports. The full document is available to read here.

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Ruben Puylaert

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Liselotte de Langen

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