HEFCE inspectors praise for administrators
(11 July 2005)
The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) has recently completed their major audit of Durham University student (HESES) and research activity (RAS) returns and has described it as one of the best ever seen.
A thorough process lasting four days, involves two auditors who conduct interviews with staff, trawl through computer printouts and check individual student and staff paper records to ensure that HEFCE funds the University for the correct amount.
The outcome of the routine audit was described by the lead auditor as one of the very best she had ever seen. The University was commended on the thoroughness of processes, the rigour of checking mechanisms and the completeness of records.
The University senior management team is delighted by the outcome of the audit, which although routine, is nonetheless and important check on the effectiveness of administrative systems. The HEFCE Teaching and Research funding are based on the data in the returns. According to the results of the audit, universities could be asked to pay back very large amounts of money, which has happened in a number of occasions.
The auditor was particularly impressed with the very low non-completion rates in student activity and therefore went through the unusual process and therefore went through the process of checking the actual student records. These records demonstrated that, in reality, non-completion rates were even lower.
Having no criticism of note, the auditor’s comments were confined to praise for the systems and a few minor housekeeping points.
Vice-Chancellor Sir Kenneth Calman said, “I am delighted at the response from HEFCE to our recent Audit. This is quite tremendous and shows not only that we have a very hard working group of staff who believe strongly in quality, but that processes in place are sound, and can be scrutinised from outside.”
The outcome of the audit means that there should be no need for another audit inspection for approximately seven years.