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Regulating Financial Sustainability in Higher Education

National Audit Office. Regulating Financial Sustainability in Higher Education. The Stationery Office, Norwich, 2011. ISBN: 978-0-1029-6953-5. Pages: 34.

The latest report issued by the National Audit Office (NAO) spotlights the Higher Education Funding Council for England’s (HEFCE) management of assessing the financial state of British higher education institutions. According to the NAO report, in the wake of the undergraduate tuition fee increase starting in 2012/13, HEFCE – under the governance of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills – will likely alter its role and responsibilities with respect to higher education institutions throughout England.
The report notes that, while HEFCE uses prudent measures to regulate institutional financial sustainability, the new funding framework will likely increase the level of risk within the higher education sector. The report also calls for HEFCE to incorporate new measures to ensure that universities report adverse changes that can influence their short-term financial risks. Further, it advocates for HEFCE to amend its traditional system of waiting at least three years to publish its financial assessment of individual institutions.

Moreover, the report issues recommendations for HEFCE to strengthen its role in the higher education sector, including the implementation of new forms of checks and balances to simultaneously protect higher education institutions and taxpayers at large, with special attention to be paid to current and future students.

National Audit Office - UK