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Departmental Assurance

The Office for Students requires the University to meet certain conditions of its registration as a Higher Education provider, including demonstrating that the University has adequate and effective financial, operational and governance arrangements. The University's Audit Committee is responsible for checking the University's arrangements are in place, by seeking assurance over policies and processes and whether they are operating effectively. It reports annually to Council with an opinion on how well these arrangements are operating. 

The devolved structure of the University means that responsibility rests with Heads of Institutions for implementing certain policies at a local level. The University's internal auditors used to run an annual Departmental Assurance Survey which provided assurance over common areas of risk managed at a departmental level. The survey was paused during 2020-21.

A new approach

Over the last 18 months, we have worked with the internal auditors to explore different models of assurance that could be used in place of the Departmental Assurance Survey. Input has been sought from departmental colleaues to understand how new approaches might impact those at a departmental level. A new approach to departmental assurance will be piloted during 2021-22, and has been designed in line with the following principles:

  • It should be easy and straightforward for departmental colleagues to complete, drawing on existing forms of assurance where possible.
  • It should provide greater clarity over expectations on departments, build a better understanding of accountability and provide a framework within which assurance can be provided to the Audit Committee for responsibilities that sit with Heads of Institutions.
  • It should serve as a mechanism for institutions to demonstrate that things are working well, but also provide opportunity for departments to identify areas for improvement and to highlight areas where further support, tools or guidance is required or where expectations are unclear, in order to drive real change and improvement across the University.

Head of Institution Assurance Statement Pilot 2021-22

A Head of Institution Assurance Statement will be piloted with a selection of institutions during Easter Term and the summer vacation 2022. Further information can be found here. Future plans for departmental assurance will be developed following the pilot and will take account of feedback received as part of the pilot.