Posted: March 16th, 2023 1:01pm +00:00

Is the tide turning for risk management within the higher education sector?

Lecture theatre


After a number of significantly impactful events, risk management within the higher education sector has risen in priority. COVID 19, Brexit, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the cost of living crisis have all had a negative effect on the sector. Mitigating the effect of these on higher education institutions will ensure they continue to meet their objectives. 

Risk management in the higher education sector

UNIAC has recently completed some analysis of more than 300 risks across 17 higher education institutions and it showed that the headline risks for this sector are:

  • Financial sustainability
  • Student recruitment
  • Digital Strategy
  • Cyber & IT security
  • Estates quality, legal and regulatory issues, delivering student outcomes, and staff recruitment and performance management
  • Environmental sustainability

Financial sustainability

Student enrolment is more important than ever due to the increase in running costs, materials, and labour costs. Unfortunately, enrolment figures have seen a significant decrease over the last few years which obviously have a detrimental effect on financial viability.

Student recruitment

The Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) shows that enrolments by EU nationals dropped by 53%. From 64,120 students in 2020/21 to just 31,400 in 2021/22. The dramatic decrease is due to several factors. Before Brexit, the EU students would pay £9000 per year in fees and were able to claim student finance. Since the UK has exited the EU, fees have soared to £38,000. New visa regulations also cause another obstacle for attracting EU students.

The number of Chinese students enrolling for 1 year post graduate courses has risen 44% but this does not make up for the shortfall in EU students.

The recent cost of living crisis will no doubt have a negative effect on student enrolment figures too. Students will struggle to afford the fees let alone the rising costs of living away from home. Rents will be increasing along with higher food and utility bills too.

Digital strategy

COVID 19 demonstrated the need for the sector to be more digitally focussed. Campuses were emptied and lectures delivered online. This propelled the sector into enhancing their technology and digitalisation. Hybrid learning is a new opportunity and many instititions are still offering this meaning that location is less of a barrier. 

As you can see, this sector has a difficult task to ensure that they remain successful and financially sustainable organisations. UNIACs research showed that all the unmitigated risks had high scores and with mitigations these reduced significantly in most cases. Risk management can aid the success of these institutions which have such a huge impact on the UK economy.

JCAD is pleased to be providing its risk management software, CORE, to several education institutions as the sector moves away from spreadsheets to host their risk registers. Risk management in the higher education sector will help drive the decisions and ensure that the strategic objectives are met. Introducing a centralised software will increase the visibility of risk management and help you gain maximum buy-in from the organisation too.

Our off the shelf risk management system, CORE offers:

  • Peace of mind as over 70 clients are already using our risk software successfully
  • Quick implementation
  • No internal IT requirement
  • Support and on-going development
  • Ensures efficient use of your personnel

Request a demo


Source: Alarm January 2023

              ‘Devastating’: EU student numbers in UK drop by half since Brexit | Euronews


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