UK: Universities face tighter scrutiny

The British government's university funding board is planning to ramp up its checks on the information supplied by institutions, after a report into London Metropolitan University's receipt of more than £30 million in excess investment criticised both the board and the university, writes Lucy Tobin in The Guardian.

The Higher Education Funding Council for England (Hefce) was writing to universities last week about plans to "intensify" its audit work and change some of its data collection methods from next year. The council will check the figures universities annually provide on student numbers and drop-out rates every three years instead of five. It will also ask universities to provide an explicit assurance on the quality of the data provided every year.

The changes come after the publication of a 'lessons learned' report, commissioned by Hefce, to look into London Metropolitan's funding debacle between 2002 and 2008, when the university had been mistakenly claiming funding for substantial numbers of students who did not complete their course. The report, carried out by KPMG, places the lion's share of the blame for the discrepancies at the university's door, but Hefce does not escape criticism.
Full report on The Guardian site