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Launch of Governance Academy

On January 24, the UN’s International Day of Education, Governance Institute of Australia officially launched its new Governance Academy. Governance Institute Director and Education Chair, Professor Michael Adams FGIA(life), FCG and General Manager for Education, Mark Wilbourn held a webinar to discuss the vision and motivation behind the Academy and some of the exciting plans for the future.

Q. What is the Governance Academy? How is it going to be different to what the Institute has already been doing for the past 30 years, and what’s been the driver of this change?

Michael: Governance Institute has a long history. It goes back to 1891 in the UK, and it got its Royal Charter in 1902. In Australia, we have delivered our postgraduate courses to literally thousands of alumni.

Over the past five to ten years, the higher education sector has been changing and refining. The Institute has developed some great short courses and professional development. But the postgraduate education was separate because of our structure.

Then back in 2019, within Governance Institute of Australia there were discussions at board level about strategic planning, and Mark and I were talking about what we would like to see in the future. Together, we came up with the concept of a governance academy. We felt that the postgraduate qualifications, the reputation, the original thinking, the thought leadership were really beginning to gain momentum, and we could do some interesting research work with the universities, to provide our members and educators with even greater in-depth knowledge in a very fast changing world.

When the resources became available to have the professional body and the educational arm working together, it was just too good an opportunity to miss. So, behind the scenes for the past year, we’ve been working through the logistics to get the Governance Academy off the ground.

The board has seen the opportunity to invest funds in this future, and so the Governance Academy now provides an umbrella to bring everything together in a particularly exciting and more efficient way.

Q. The Institute has undertaken research around how to identify and validate governance capability standards. What can you tell us about what the research is pointing to?

Mark: The Academy aims to provide an evidence base for the education and training we deliver to governance professionals. It will be aligned to governance capability standards, validated through the research. The aim is to support a pipeline of professionals that possess the requisite knowledge, skills and mindsets to operate as governance professionals and the ability to be able to do that across all industries.

The boundaries that that we’ve traditionally thought about in terms of the roles that people perform are becoming increasingly porous, with many people not identifying themselves as being in a governance role.

We’ve also found a lot of traditional education offerings are not packaged in a way that meets the needs of busy professionals who want easy-to-consume, flexible packages that meet their needs and the realities of cross-sector career pathways.

The governance capability standards will enable professionals at all stages of their career to do a few important things. We will be developing a diagnostic or profiling tool, allowing individuals to self-assess their level of capability to prioritise their personal development, enhance their future employment and progress their careers. Learning will be recognised through stackable credentials and learning pathways that will articulate with our award courses, the graduate certificate and graduate diploma. In time our very successful short courses will be redesigned to become credentialed learning.

Q. What will the launch of today’s Academy mean for students that have been through our courses already, present students who are currently studying with us now and those who might be looking to take on some education? How do we perceive this is going to be rolled out over time?

Mark: Initially, it won’t make a major difference. In launching the Academy we’re aiming to create a community of learning that will support individuals with their education and training needs. This is very much the start of the journey.

Everything that we have currently on offer will remain on offer. Our graduate diploma and graduate certificate remain accredited by TEQSA. Our short courses and Certificates and Effective Director Course will remain on offer. So, in the short term nothing changes in that sense.

The Academy gives us this opportunity to develop courses in the future that will be aligned to validated governance capabilities, courses that will be credentialed and aligned to the Australian Qualifications Framework. They will be distinct from our existing short courses.

Michael: The Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) is especially important from an award qualification perspective and, and the accreditation of those courses is through the national regulator TEQSA. This is where the Academy helps us to do that, by extending that idea of having all learning credentialed against that framework, because that then enables individuals to have that continuity between what’s there, and how that will then be able to stack and potentially get them credits into a new course.

Q. Governance Institute has traditionally offered accredited and non-accredited education in a siloed manner. How important is it to bring the two elements of our education output under the one umbrella?

Michael: Various topics in our postgraduate courses are particularly intricate, but there’s often really useful, valuable information which is not as quickly and as effectively transferred to the new short courses and vice versa.

The Governance Academy will enhance the ability to deliver education that is aligned to a single goal, that is, the support for governance capability. We know people are motivated to undertake education for a myriad of reasons. The Academy will support continuity in our educational offerings by creating seamless pathways of learning that are aligned to the AQF and governance capabilities. Credentialed learning and award courses provide our members and students with greater choice and flexibility to undertake education that will support their career aspirations in ways that are manageable and focussed. Credentialed learning can be stacked and achieve recognition in award courses.

Q. How will the Governance Academy and the future education and training offerings improve outcomes for those looking to hire governance professionals?

Mark: The research that we’ve undertaken to identify governance capabilities for the workforce will support individuals and employers. Often employers and those involved in recruitment tell us there is a dearth of people with the required capabilities for the workforce, especially as governance roles are evolving.

The research has provided us with a clear roadmap, if you like, of what capabilities  we need to support. The assessment tool will be useful for an employer to understand their organisation’s workforce needs, including their strengths and where there are deficiencies in the capabilities of the workforce. That will help employers to clearly direct resources to support capability uplift.

That’s really the intention. So, when we offer courses, they will be aligned to capabilities, credentialed and stackable, and support  governance professionals across all industries.

Q. For those people that have done courses and certificates, what are their options going forward?

Mark: A general principle in higher education is to recognise prior learning wherever possible, but there is detail to work through to understand the relationship between our existing short courses, and capability-aligned micro-credentials in the future. The two are quite different, the latter being aligned to the Australian Qualifications Framework.

The Academy has been a long time in the planning, but this launch represents the start of a journey to create a community of learning. And for that reason, I just want to make sure that everyone understands we’re open to people approaching us and having conversations about how you can engage with us. That goes beyond course offerings to becoming part of this community, creating a culture of learning together. The Academy will remain grounded in delivering applied learning and research.

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