Monday, April 18, 2011

Two cheers for the SFA: college accounts and benchmarking

The Skills Funding Agency has recently published its spreadsheet summarising the 2009/10 accounts of 351 colleges. One of my concerns about the end of the Learning and Skills Council in 2010 (alongside the inevitable confusion and complexity involved) was that the publication of the college accounts spreadsheet would end. The survival of the spreadsheet is to be welcomed.

The college accounts spreadsheet allows colleges and their advisors to compare their performance. However, care needs to be taken. While the SFA says that the finance records submitted by the colleges have been “subject to basic credibility and reasonableness checks”, there are evident anomalies. There is the college paying £1800 a day for internal audit and another seven colleges paying a nil day rate. There is also the college which capitalises all expenditure over £5. The SFA would deserve three cheers if they looked at the extreme values and queried them before publishing them.

After a few reasonableness checks I will be publishing some analysis of the college accounts here over the next few weeks to make up for the scarcity of my blog posts recently.

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