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HE Governance Update

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Our previous updates have addressed the periodic HEFCE Assurance Review visits to institutions. HEFCE use these visits to gain assurance that the main annual institutional returns are reliable. During the visits HEFCE review agendas and minutes from governing bodies and key committees and meet with senior executive and non-executive staff. On concluding the visit HEFCE form an opinion on whether the institution has robust mechanisms in place to ensure that:

funds have been applied only for the purposes for which they were received

it is financially sustainable

risk management, control and governance arrangements are effective

value for money is achieved

data can be relied on.

We met with the HEFCE Assurance Team in November 2015 to gain discussion themes from their recent visits. HEFCE highlighted that their current concerns include:

omission of charity disclosures from annual reports; omission of appropriate links from institutions’ websites; and limited evidence of institutional charitable objectives being considered at governing body meetings;

a lack of management assurance, beyond internal audit assurance, to governors that data returns are compliant with external requirements.

In addition, governors will be probed during these visits on how they gain assurances that academic quality can be relied upon and that effective arrangements are in place to comply with the Prevent duty.

HEFCE confirmed that these visits rarely identify fundamental concerns. Instead matters raised tend to be housekeeping points.

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