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Risk Briefing – Beyond Higher Education

The Chartered Institute of Internal Auditors has surveyed company executives with responsibility for risk across Europe (France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, the UK and Ireland) to assess where they expect risk efforts to focus in the forthcoming year and further into the future.  This survey included a wide range of sectors beyond education and provides a tool for internal audit and audit committees to horizon scan.  It follows a similar exercise undertaken last year.

Cyber security continues to be the single biggest risk.  New risks to emerge and / or with increasing emphasis over the last year, include those relating to inequality in the workplace and all types of discrimination.  Similarly, there is more focus on social media – but recognising that there are significant opportunities as well as risks to manage.  Inevitably, Brexit and global / international relations flow through a number of the areas – whether in relation to suppliers, trade restrictions or political uncertainty.

Higher Education Risk Themes

Following a similar exercise last year, we have completed a desk top review of risk registers (across all our members and clients).  Unsurprisingly, the results show similar themes across most institutions.  Of course, the breadth, scale and diverse nature of institutions, from Russell Group members through to small specialist providers, causes individual risks to play out differently.     

Value for Money - A Gathering Storm?

These days it seems as though we talk of little else.  If the volume of debate about value for money can be taken as a measure of success, the Office for Students, which has student value for money as one of its core objectives, may certainly take a bow. 

So far, though, discussions have often generated more heat than light, and moreover it seems like those outside of the sector are making the running.  This potentially places individual institutions on the back foot in their dealings whether with student stakeholders or with the Office for Students.  It is also potentially dangerous for the sector as a whole in the context of the Post-18 Review of Education and Funding.  

ICT Oversight

Effective stewardship over information and communication technology ensures expected benefits are delivered, risks are managed and technological strategy goes in the right direction.  It’s crucial but often overlooked, misunderstood or badly executed.  This can result in problems particularly – from our experience – in the higher education sector.   

The New Regulatory Framework

The new Office for Students is beginning to take shape.  All the signs are that it will behave very differently from its predecessor.   

Risk Briefing: Beyond Higher Education

Late in 2017, the Institutes of Internal Audit across Europe (UK and Ireland, France, Italy, Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland) pooled their resources to identify common themes or hot topics that could help to focus the attention of internal audit in its efforts to mitigate risk and add value in organisations.  The exercise included a wide range of sectors – construction / infrastructure, financial services, IT, manufacturing, public sector, retail / consumer, telecoms and utilities / energy.  

This briefing note sets out the main risks from that exercise, along with our comments on what it might mean for Higher Education, with the intention of aiding the development or update to internal audit plans over the coming twelve months.

The Higher Education Market: An Assessment of the National Audit Office Report

The recent National Audit Office (NAO) report on Higher Education led to press headlines that questioned the value for money offered to students from their experience of Higher Education.  Initial reactions within the sector have challenged both the concept of a market in Higher Education and the NAO’s methodology.  While these are valid questions, the NAO report does highlight several themes that need to be addressed.  This briefing note explores thoses issues and suggests some possible ways forward. 

New Regulatory Framework: Implications for audit committees and internal audit providers

The Government has recently released a suite of consultations that start to implement the changes set out in the Higher Education and Research Act 2017. They also take forward a number of key Government priorities, respond to a number of recent high-profile issues, and set out how the new Office for Students, replacing HEFCE, will operate.

This briefing note highlights some of the most significant changes and explores what it might mean for audit committees and their internal audit functions. 

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence (AI), does not yet encompass armies of killer-robots roaming the planet.  However it has made some inroads into our day-to-day lives from the mundane (voice recognition software in telephone call centres) to the more interesting (driverless cars are no doubt on the way).  Within higher education some areas of AI are well-established such as automatic plagiarism-detection systems for student submissions like ‘Turnitin’.

However, to date we have barely scratched the surface of what AI is capable of.  Now, industry and technology experts are predicting that AI will expand to take over many routine tasks in the coming years and decades. 

Research into GuildHE members views on UKVI compliance

This document sets out a summary of findings from a survey developed and administered in partnership between GuildHE and Uniac. It seeks to understand current issues associated with Tier 4 compliance and to provide useful information about practice within providers that will be of assistance in continuing to develop efficient and effective control mechanisms. Thirty-three instiutions responded to the survey, accouting for over 75% of GuildHE membership. This was followed up with in-depth interviews with 15 instiutions. A full research note will be circulated to all participants and GuildHE members. 

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