Baker Tilly’s Internal Audit Into Higher Education’s Evolutionary Risk Management Ally

Apr 5, 2024 12:30 PM ET
Students talking looking at pieces of paper

Authored by Adrienne Larmett

Higher education is at an inflection point, with many institutions fighting for their existence. Changing student demographics and needs, evolving technologies and market demands and the COVID-19 pandemic have compelled colleges and universities to evolve. Simultaneously, institutions are combatting an increasing societal narrative on the perceived benefit of a college degree compared to the rising cost of education, public criticism of growing burdensome student loan debt and the ongoing debate regarding the practicality of a liberal arts education versus education focused on career pragmatism. Nonetheless, higher education maintains an essential role in the modern era. It serves as:

  • A pathway to knowledge and expertise, which provides an opportunity to pursue academic disciplines and professional skills that can lead to career advancement and personal growth
  • A gateway to better career opportunities, as many job positions still require a degree as a prerequisite. Degrees may also provide individuals with a competitive edge in the job market
  • A vehicle for social mobility, allowing individuals from diverse backgrounds to improve their socioeconomic circumstances while contributing to society
  • A hub for research and innovation, as universities play a critical role in generating new knowledge, conducting groundbreaking research and leading the development of technological advancements
  • A catalyst for personal development, as it is often a transformative experience that helps students develop critical thinking, problem-solving skills, essential life skills and a broader worldview

As higher education navigates mounting challenges, works to improve its image and value proposition and progresses to meet the multifaceted needs of various stakeholders, it has a key ally: internal audit.

This article shares perspectives on the historic and current challenges, risks and other issues higher education institutions face, and how internal audit can help.

Key takeaways

  • Recognize why colleges and universities are reluctant to embrace change
  • Explore examples of higher education transformation across campuses and classrooms
  • Navigate the higher education risk universe and identify risks related to the institution’s business model, reputation, operations and compliance
  • Realize the strategic and objective activities internal audit performs in the higher education environment

How Baker Tilly can help 

Our specialized higher education internal audit team has experience assessing and auditing every function within the higher education environment. We're here to help your institution proactively plan for disruption and tackle today's challenges.

For more information, or to learn more about how Baker Tilly’s higher education risk advisors can help your institution, connect with the team.