Higher education risk register

23 January 2024

Managing your risks and opportunities effectively through uncertain times

In the ever-evolving landscape of higher education, institutions face several challenges and opportunities that demand a proactive and robust approach to risk management. This is necessary, not only to protect the institution, but also to enable effective risk mitigation and opportunity maximisation in the face of significant change in student and regulatory needs.

These are tough times for students, staff and institutions, with rising costs having an impact on most institutions to varying degrees creating financial pressures. This is coupled with technological advancements, evolving regulatory frameworks, and shifting student expectations.

We have undertaken our latest analysis of institutions’ strategic risk registers. This publication is intended to help providers challenge their own risk profiles and help with ongoing risk identification and opportunity management. 

Key Findings

The comprehensive examination of 377 risks, collated from 21 client risk registers, has shed light on the pressing concerns that higher education institutions in the UK currently face. The top three risk areas we identified were:

  1. finance representing 15% (58 risks);
  2. people/ staffing at 10% (38 risks); and
  3. organisational (operations) at 9% (35 risks).

Finance related risks have consistently been the top risk area since our original 2012 analysis which reflects the overarching concern in relation to financial stability and sustainability. This takes into consideration the fluidity in student recruitment and retention, whilst there are also heightened costs in relation to people, estates and general operating expenditure.

Lisa  Randall
Partner, Head of Higher Education
Lisa  Randall
Partner, Head of Higher Education