In addition to Brexit and COVID-19, universities have had multiple issues and risks to confront, while also planning for some significant changes on the horizon. Debbie Watson explains the key challenges and developments for the higher education sector identified in our recent report.

Universities have had to deal with a number of challenges this past year, including an increasing threat from cyber-attacks and rising pension costs, as well as mitigating the potentially disastrous impact of climate change.

The emergence of these risks, the introduction of new auditing standards, and the prospect of additional scrutiny from the BEIS consultation places increased emphasis on the need for audit committees to oversee the effectiveness of their governance, risk management, and financial reporting arrangements.

Transparency around the reporting of risks is vital to maintain trust among key stakeholders and demonstrate that measures are being taken to prevent any significant damage to the university and the wider society.

The Code of Practice for Higher Education Audit Committees, published in May 2020, aims to provide some structure and support in this area.

Our report analyses all of these issues, and also looks at developments in VAT, corporate tax, and financial reporting, as well as highlighting key messages from the Office for Students.

The future of higher education

There are big changes for the sector on the horizon with the Skills for Jobs white paper setting out the government’s intention to increase focus on further education and prioritise more practical and technical qualifications. As a result, higher education providers need to be conscious of the potential for a reduction in student numbers. Nonetheless, this change may also open up opportunities for the sector, such as offering new courses and collaborating with further education colleges.

To find out more about key challenges and developments in the higher education sector, download the report. [ 1948 kb ]

If you need further guidance, get in touch with Debbie Watson.

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