Emerging risks in education

29 May 2024

An emerging risk can be defined as a new or unforeseen level of uncertainty driven by external events. The risk may still be forming, and its implications may not yet be clear for the institution, be these negative or positive. 

A board has a responsibility to establish and continuously review the risk and internal control framework. It also needs to determine the nature and extent of the principal risks it is willing to take to achieve its strategic objectives. 

Being vigilant of these emerging risks and understanding their impact is an important element of preparedness and risk management in higher education institutions.

The RSM Emerging Risk Radar

Our risk management advisory team surveyed board members on what they recognised as the emerging risks as part of strategic risk identification and refresh exercises that we facilitated during the six-month period leading up to December 2023. We received 194 separate responses from business leaders and managers across all sectors. 

Using this information, we created our ‘Emerging Risk Radar (January 2024)’, which highlights the most prevalent emerging risks.  

Emerging risk considerations

We recommend that all institution boards review these emerging risks and seek to understand the following.

  • To what extent will these emerging risks affect the institution? 
  • To what extent will these emerging risks impact the institution’s existing strategic risks? 
  • How much will they change the way the institution currently manages strategic risks? 
  • How will the institution respond and continue to review the emerging risks?

Next steps

The emerging risk landscape is constantly changing. Institution boards should:

  1. make time to undertake horizon scanning and consider potential emerging risks; and 
  2. determine how these will be subject to ongoing ‘watching, assessment and monitoring’ by the institution.   

For more information 

Our risk management advisory team will revisit the current emerging risk radar during the summer 2025 and will make the results available upon request. 

We have a large number of institutions using the 4risk module from our Insight4grc software to aid in the management of risks and controls, including the capture of emerging risks.

If you would like to discuss your institution’s approach to emerging risk or how your institution could benefit from the use of the RSM Insight4grc software (particularly 4risk), please contact Matthew Humphrey or your usual RSM contact.