Internal Audit: A proactive strategy to assess risk in higher education

Internal audit can provide a proactive strategy for colleges and universities to assess risk. The process for evaluating and implementing this strategy can differ among higher education institutions due to where the institution sits on the continuum of risk management maturity, and may start through a myriad of approaches:

  • Identifying a need: The institution is considering whether an internal audit function could be a valuable asset. 
  • Exploring options: The institution is evaluating the best model for internal audit service delivery.
  • Enhancing existing structures: The institution has an internal audit function and is looking for ways to optimize capabilities and impact.

Historical data, a current struggle or challenge, and the future strategic goals of the institution all come into play when thinking about how to position an institution to assess and address risk. Through internal audit efforts it is possible to accomplish many things, such as:  proactively position financial reporting to meet research compliance needs, develop a strategic approach to budgeting, ensure regulatory compliance when supporting students abroad, enhance administrative support operations, and ensure steps are taken to address cybersecurity realities. 

Learn more about the potential benefits of internal audit within higher education >

To help navigate this process and provide valuable guidance, Baker Tilly higher education and risk specialists have hosted a series of complimentary discussion-based seminars on leveraging an internal audit function for institutions of all sizes and resources. These seminars helped attendees:

  • Discover if an internal audit function makes sense for their institution;
  • Define and explore internal, outsourced, and co-sourced options for engaging an internal audit function;
  • Discuss risk assessment and compliance review processes ; and
  • Provide answers to any additional questions attendees have about risk and internal audit.

Baker Tilly partners with client institutions to host this half-day seminar, inviting host institution personnel as well as neighboring institutions to participate. The seminars have been very successful in attendance and participation. Each group discussion tends to explore a different aspect of internal audit, providing a wide range of solution-based takeaways.  Topics of discussion have included internal audit structures, compliance, enterprise risk management, shared services, and cybersecurity. 

From what we hear, the attendees have found these discussions to be vitally important and instrumental in their continuous efforts to develop or improve their internal audit functions. Baker Tilly is dedicated to continuing to provide this level of support and training to higher education institutions across the country. If you are interested in hosting an event like this on your campus, or if you’d like to receive information about future events planned in your area, please contact us.