In the years to come, 2010 and 2011 will surely be seen as the most significant for Higher Education for a generation – if not two. The implications of Lord Browne’s Report “An independent review of higher education funding and student finance” will alter the Higher Education landscape for good, bringing many challenges, yet also creating opportunities. Even before the Browne Report, institutions were facing many unprecedented challenges, such as the unaffordability of pension schemes, continued pressures on their cost base and the need for ever greater efficiencies within an environment of reducing funding, to mention just a few. It is, undoubtedly, a time of change and a time for the right advice.
Working with the sector
How can we help
The Higher Education sector is very important to Mazars and we are committed to helping in its continuous development and success. We work with a range of institutions in all parts of the United Kingdom as well as related agencies. In addition, as the only truly international accountancy partnership, we can assist you seamlessly wherever you operate throughout the world.
Our Education Sector Focus Group is evidence of our commitment to the sector. The Group meets on a regular basis and has representatives in all practice areas. It develops our strategy for serving the sector as well as meeting to share information, concerns, the regulators’ latest thinking and anything else that will help our specialists to provide the best service possible. If you wish, we can provide training to an institution’s finance team and to members of its Audit Committee to assist them in keeping up to date with sector developments. We provide periodic briefings on a variety of relevant areas.
We are members of both the HEFCE (Higher Education Funding Council for England) Audit Liaison Group and CHEIA (Council of Higher Education Internal Auditors) so we can both add to the debate on issues and developments and keep our clients informed.
We are able to provide all the services that you would expect of a major international partnership, including:
External Audit – 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 face-to-face meetings, listening carefully, acting as a sounding board, being proactive and offering robust opinions and advice.
Internal Audit and Risk Management – We provide a risk based internal audit service covering diverse areas as sustainability, student satisfaction, student employability, management structures, information systems and data assurance, performance improvement and capital project management, amongst many others.
Governance and Board/Audit Committee Effectiveness Services – 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 compete within strained financial circumstances. With risks changing and increasing it is particularly important that audit committees are 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. We can help with reviews of the overall governance of institutions; reviews of governing body and/or audit committee effectiveness and by organising training and development workshops for governing bodies and audit committees
Working Capital Reviews – Many universities and colleges will 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 Risk Registers. We have extensive experience in undertaking both Working Capital Reviews and Financial Due Diligence, reporting to all interested parties with clarity, forthright conclusions and sensible recommendations.
Business Performance Improvement – Mazars’ Business Performance team helps our clients to improve their efficiency and enhance business performance. We use approaches that are tailored to each client and project to ensure high quality analysis and practical solutions to complex problems, covering areas such as, Business Process Improvement, Organisational Design, Change Management, Programme Leadership, Project Assurance and Management Information
VAT - VAT has always been a particularly complex area for the education sector, and with rates increasing and HMRC becoming increasingly active in their investigation of the education sector, the future poses a number of challenges. At Mazars we have a national VAT team who are ideally placed to help all types of educational establishments deal with their VAT affairs.
Employment Tax Services – We can assist educational institutions with regard to employment tax, issues such as employer compliance reviews by HMRC and the negotiation of any settlement, helping with the tax issues surrounding payments related to the termination of employment and all aspects of expense claims
Carbon Reduction Charge – Higher education institutions required to register under The Carbon Reduction Commitment/ Energy Efficiency Scheme (“CRC”) have to purchase carbon allowances with effect from 1 April 2011 with recovery of the cost dependent on their relative performance in achieving energy efficiency targets. We can help with training for those charged with governance, helping members of governing bodies to understand what is involved, the review of policies and procedures, designing KPIs and performance reporting toolkits and providing assurance over the data being reported on a regular basis.
Pensions – Mazars provides comprehensive pensions consultancy and actuarial advice through its in-house team. We are aware of the pension fund issues which are facing organisations generally in the UK as well as all HE institutions and are experienced on advising institutions on their options for addressing the inherent challenges.
Grants – We have extensive experience of advising higher education institutions on compliance with the requirements of all the major UK and EU grant funders, their individual funding streams, and in the certification of those grants claims. We can also provide a pre-assurance service at an early stage in the project activity, advise on compliance matters and ensure that any potential areas which could lead to claw back of funding are resolved promptly.
We pride ourselves on providing a partner led service. We would welcome an opportunity to demonstrate that we do not merely make promises, but deliver them.