Risk-based advisory services: strategic partnerships and approaches for gaining assurance in an increasingly complex higher education environment

Presented by:

  • Charles Ingram, Stockton University
  • Mark Laccetti, Baker Tilly
  • Frank Bossle, Baker Tilly

The increase in complexity of higher education management has compelled institutional leadership (i.e., trustees and senior leaders) to gain assurance that internal controls are working effectively to support the achievement of institutional objectives. In the public sector, where many trustees of colleges and universities may work, a well-developed internal audit function provides this ongoing assurance. However, many colleges and universities may either have no internal audit function, or a very small function, and therefore little to no infrastructure to provide similar assurances. What’s more, if an institution has an internal audit function, it may not always have the expertise to cover the full spectrum of important risk areas such as research compliance, student financial aid, or cybersecurity.

Leadership therefore needs a strategic partner they can rely on to help foster an effective and intentional approach to managing risk, compliance, and the alignment of organizational strategy and operational tactics. Increasingly, institutions are seeking external support to bridge the resource or knowledge gap, and achieve their risk advisory objectives.

Key takeaways:

  • Trending risks in higher education require a diverse knowledge base to provide assurance in higher education today
  • The evolution of internal audit, from a traditional role to its role in an institution’s “three lines of defense” model
  • The different risk advisory models and the benefits of each approach
  • Provided decision-tree for the establishment of an internal audit function

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