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Contents

  • Executive summary
  • Introduction
  • Guidance
    • Annual assurance return
    • Annual monitoring statement
    • Corporate planning statement
    • Audited financial statements
    • Financial results and forecast tables
    • Financial commentary on past performance and future prospects
    • Audit committee annual report
    • External audit management letter
    • Internal audit annual report
  • Returns
  • Annex A Guidance notes on completing the annual monitoring statement return
  • Annex B Sample annual monitoring statement 2009
  • Annex C Financial results and forecast tables: guidance notes
  • Annex D Sample financial tables 2009
  • Annex E Annual assurance return template
  • List of abbreviations

Executive summary

Purpose

1.   This document asks higher education institutions (HEIs) to send us their annual accountability returns for 2009 to inform the annual process previously known as the 'single conversation'. The accountability returns form a significant way in which HEIs can demonstrate accountability for the public funds distributed to them.

Key points

2.   The accountability returns enable HEFCE to reassess HEIs' overall risk assessments and to ensure that HEIs are meeting their accountability responsibilities.

3.   The various returns cover corporate strategy, financial performance, financial sustainability, risk management, control and governance, value for money (VFM), and the management and quality assurance of data. In addition to the documentation requested in the annual process itself (as detailed below), consideration will be given to other sources of assurance such as:

  • HEFCE assurance reviews
  • HEFCE data audits and reconciliation of data from Higher Education Students Early Statistics (HESES) returns and the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA)
  • reviews by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education and Office for Standards in Education
  • the Capital Investment Framework (CIF) and Estate Management Statistics.

4.   Following the review of the returns we will notify each HEI of our risk assessment through a letter to the chair of the governing body and head of HEI. This is an annual process, but we may revisit an HEI's overall risk assessment at any time if there is a significant change in circumstances. We also remind all HEIs of their obligation, under the Financial Memorandum with HEFCE, that they should inform us of any material adverse change in circumstances.

5.   The documents to be sent to us, and their submission dates, are as follows:

  • Annual assurance return
  • Annual monitoring statement (AMS)
  • Corporate planning statement (CPS)
  • Audited financial statements
  • Financial results and forecast tables
  • Financial commentary on past performance and future prospects
  • Audit committee annual report
  • External audit management letter and management responses
  • Internal audit annual report
1 December 2009
HESES return 10 December 2009
Research Activity Survey (RAS) 14 December 2009
Transparent Approach to Costing (TRAC) return 29 January 2010

6.   This publication gives guidance on the returns that are to be submitted to us by 1 December 2009. Detailed guidance on the requirements of the HESES, RAS and TRAC returns are provided separately.

7.   We will primarily use the information collected to:

  1. Monitor the use of our funds for the purposes intended.
  2. Assess compliance with the Financial Memorandum.
  3. Form a basis for discussion with HEIs about their progress in key areas, their priorities for strategic development and their current and future performance.
  4. Largely determine our risk assessments of each HEI.
  5. Identify trends across the sector and advise the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills on the needs and development of the higher education sector.

Action required

8.   The returns should be submitted as follows:

  • one paper copy of the completed annual assurance return (Annex E) signed by the head of the HEI should be sent to: Annual accountability returns, HEFCE, Northavon House, Coldharbour Lane, Bristol BS16 1QD
  • electronic copies of the following should be sent via the HEFCE extranet:
    • completed AMS template
    • CPS
    • signed audited financial statements
    • completed financial results and forecast tables
    • financial commentary on past performance and future prospects
    • audit committee annual report
    • external audit management letter and management responses
    • internal audit annual report.

Templates for the AMS and financial tables will be available by the end of September 2009. We will write to heads of finance and our AMS contact in each HEI at the end of September with details on how to access the templates and how to return information to us.

Date: 1 September 2009

Ref: 2009/35

To: Heads of HEFCE-funded higher education institutions, Heads of universities in Northern Ireland

Of interest to those
responsible for:

Audit, Estates, Finance, Governance, Management, Planning, Student data, Research data

Enquiries should be directed to:

HEFCE higher education policy advisers, HEFCE assurance consultants or assurance advisers, Contact details for HEFCE staff