Our education teams are based around the UK and work with Higher Education Institutions (HEI’s), Further Education Institutions (FEI’s) as well as Academies and Schools. Currently we are external and internal auditors to over 60 HEI’s and FEI’s as well as numerous other Institutions. Our Education Steering Group comprises a number of Partners and Directors around the firm who set our strategy as we continue our growth in the sector.
We believe effective project management, timely communication, regular access to senior team members and continuity of staff are key to delivering an effective audit and achieving a high level of client satisfaction. We work hard to develop long-term relationships with our clients. This involves regular meetings, listening carefully, acting as a sounding board and offering robust opinions and advice.
Mazars offers you the benefit of a modern and innovative risk-based approach to an audit which involves the use of modern computer-based audit techniques to assess business and control systems. We are also able to call upon a wide range of specialists to audit areas such as VAT arrangements, IT control environments, risk management processes and corporate governance frameworks.
Our internal audit approach is fully integrated with the wider advisory disciplines available across Mazars. This ensures that value-added services are accessible and woven into each internal audit engagement. Our clients can consequently draw upon a range of skill sets across a diversity of risk areas including sustainability, management structures, information systems and data assurance, performance improvement and capital project management.
For higher education institutions, our internal audit approach and methodology complies fully with HEFCE’s expectations and standards and is designed to ensure that work is carried out to the highest technical standards.
Governance and board/audit committee effectiveness
Getting the right governing arrangements in place and ensuring they are working effectively has never been more important as all parts of the educational sector enter more strained financial circumstances. As a result of both the increase in, and changing nature of, risks it has become particularly important for audit committees to be fully effective. Equally, governing bodies have to set the right tone from the top in promoting significant change whilst remaining true to the mission of their institution and playing to its distinctive strengths.
Mazars can help with reviews of the overall governance of institutions and reviews of governing body and/or audit committee effectiveness as well as providing training and development workshops for governing bodies and audit committees.
VAT has always been a particularly complex area for the education sector. With increased rates and investigations by HMRC, the future poses a number of challenges. The Mazars national VAT team are ideally placed to help all types of educational establishments deal with their VAT affairs. Recent assignments have included the following:
- Working with a major university in England on a landmark property development, enabling the university to recover a higher level of VAT than originally anticipated
- Working with both universities and property developers to provide a VAT efficient model for the construction and delivery of high quality student accommodation.
Enhancing institutional performance
We help our clients to improve their efficiency and enhance business performance. Our approach is tailored to each individual client and project to ensure high quality analysis and practical solutions to complex problems. The team has a good understanding of issues facing the education sector, and works closely with clients to develop practical solutions to a wide range of business performance issues such as organisational design, project assurance, change management analysis of management information and strategic financial modelling.
Our clients tell us that they value our ability to blend our wide-ranging experience with our understanding of relevant methodologies and our focus on the people issues that are a critical part of any change programme.
We can assist educational institutions with a range of employment tax issues including helping with employer compliance reviews by HMRC and the negotiation of any settlement, dealing with queries concerning the status of workers, assisting with the tax issues relating to termination of employment payments and dealing with the payment of expenses for employees required to travel on business.
Financial due diligence
Many universities and colleges now have to manage their funding lines and working capital cycle more carefully than ever before. Managing existing borrowings, treasury management, finding new sources of finance, forecasting and monitoring are likely to move far higher up within risk registers.
Mazars has extensive experience reporting to all interested parties with clarity, forthright conclusions and sensible recommendations. We can work for either an institution or alternatively alongside a bank or funding agency.
- Working capital management including headroom and cash swings
- Overall funding structures for capital and revenue projects
- Risk-based stress-testing of forecasts and assumptions.