Some institutions have compiled a summary of the returns they make each year in an effort to provide governors with an overview of what information they are required to collect, compile and submit to an external agency. Entries in the summary report typically identify the nature and purpose of the return, which part of the organisation is responsible for compiling the return, the submission date and who authorises submission of the return on behalf of the institution.
An institution will, for example, need to make returns about, for example, its finances, the student body, its staff and the estate. Given the detailed nature of the returns made, the task of ensuring the returns submitted are accurate and timely is often delegated to the institution's audit committee. The Committee may carry out is work by sampling at random the data returns being made by institution in order to test and, subject to the results of the testing, offer assurance to the governing body as the accuracy of the returns being made by the institution. Most HEIs are also charities, and governors therefore need to have due to regard to their duties and responsibilities as a trustee.
Many of the data returns submitted by institutions are made to the Higher Education Statistical Agency. Higher education providers are expected to meet the code of practice for higher education data collections.
To assist trustees of charities in England and Wales to understand their duties and responsibilities, the Charity Commission has published The Essential Trustee.
More generally, the Charity Commission (CC) issues guidance on different aspects of a charity's operation, including, for example:
- Managing a charity's finances: planning, managing difficulties and insolvency (CC12)
- Charity reserves: building reserves (CC19)
- Trustees, trading and tax: how charities may lawfully trade (CC35)
While the CC's jurisdiction covers England and Wales, and most higher education institutions are 'exempt charities' (i.e. not directly regulated by CC), the guidance offers many helpful insights into the management of all charities. For example, CC35 stresses that in relation to a trading subsidiary the interests of the parent charity are paramount and a subsidiary must be established where the planned activities represent a significant risk to the assets of the charity. Trustees are also expected to routinely monitor the performance of all trading subsidiaries.
Examples of recent and additional legal requirements placed on institutions include:
The Bribery Act 2010, which came into force on 1 July 2011.
A 'prevent duty' was placed on higher and further education institutions following the passing of the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015
Briefing note 5: Regulations and compliance
Illustrative Practice Notes
Leadership and management of health and safety in higher education institutions
You can use this guidance to help you understand your legal duties and demonstrate your visible
commitment to the success of the health and safety management system in your institution. The broad
principles can all be captured within the management system approach: Plan, Do, Check, Review. This approach is no different to management processes used across HEIs for other purposes, such
as procurement, applying for research bids or developing institutional strategies.