(a) Qualifying programme
We have reported to you previously on some broad strategic directions your Council has been developing in relation to the examinations that qualify members and to strengthen the strategic position of the Institute in response to the worldwide focus on governance. I am pleased to report that at the Council meeting in Johannesburg, following an earlier teleconference meeting on 1 February 2017, your Council has now agreed to seek approval from our members later this year to several important initiatives.
The work to produce a new qualifying programme for our examinations worldwide is now complete. We are all very grateful to members of the Working Group that led the review and members of the seven Subject Advisory Committees that provided the expert input. The purpose of the review was to ensure that our examinations continue to be fit for purpose for students and employers in each of our nine Divisions and Associated Territories.
Your Council has resolved to introduce two qualifying programmes to replace the current one. They will be at the same professional level as the current qualifying programme, with one leading to the designation of Chartered Secretary and the other leading to the designation of Chartered Governance Professional. The introduction of the second professional designation will require members’ approval and I will address this in a moment.
We are aware that many of our students and members work in many different roles in both the private and public sectors and that for them the designation of Chartered Secretary is not necessarily descriptive of the work they do. At the same time, we are all aware of the growing emphasis placed on “Governance” worldwide in all areas of business and public life. We are the world’s leading governance organisation but we need to widen our appeal to those working in governance roles that do not necessarily involve the traditional responsibilities of a company secretary. We are nevertheless the natural home for these professionals and we believe that the introduction of this new qualification and designation will attract to our membership those working in the broad field of governance.The final timetable for implementation of the two qualifying programmes for most Divisions will be from January 2019. The transition to the two qualifying programmes will not disadvantage or affect the studies of any current student. Details of the transitional arrangements will be advised in the coming months.
(b) New Affiliated Member category
Your Council has also agreed to introduce an intermediate grade of membership which will not be Chartered but will allow successful students to call themselves Affiliated Members. It is proposed that students who pass the core part of our qualifying programme or successfully complete appropriate stand-alone qualifications be awarded this new membership grade. This new grade will need members’ approval.
In order to recognise the efforts of our students, once they have completed the core part of the qualifying programme, they can apply to be an Affiliated Member and benefit from membership of the professional body that will represent them best. It is therefore proposed to offer Affiliated Membership to those students who complete the core part of the qualifying programme, either as a stepping off point or with a view to completing all the exams at a later date.
Affiliated Membership may also be offered to those who have completed suitable, local stand-alone qualifications, although Affiliated Members who do not complete the core qualifying programme will not be be able to progress to full Associate Membership.
We are currently in consultation with the Privy Council to gain in-principle approval before we formally approach our members. In the meantime a thorough communications programme is being planned so that the membership is fully informed of the changes and their implications.
In the end, it will be up to you as members to decide. I should make it clear that the new Chartered Governance Professional qualification and the new category of Affiliated Membership will be available for all 9 Divisions to adopt but it will also be up to each Division as to how they introduce these changes and, indeed, if they choose to introduce them at all.
Once this detailed work is complete, it is envisaged that members will be asked to approve the changes in October 2017 or shortly thereafter.