UHI raises concerns with Audit Scotland over delays to financial reports

Watchdog reviewing process as six colleges await verdict on last year’s accounts

The University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) has raised concerns after auditors missed a deadline for signing off the accounts of several colleges for last year.

Stephen Boyle, the Auditor General for Scotland, wrote to Holyrood’s public audit committee last month to confirm there were six college audits where the auditor would not be able to provide an opinion on the 2022/23 annual report and accounts before the statutory deadline of April 30.

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They were Forth Valley College and five of the colleges that make up UHI – Inverness, Lews Castle, Moray, North Highland and Perth.

UHI Outer Hebrides, May 2022.UHI Outer Hebrides, May 2022.
UHI Outer Hebrides, May 2022.

It means the colleges will have to wait to find out if a “Section 22” report is required from the Auditor General if the audit raises any specific concerns or issues.

UHI has contacted Audit Scotland about the issue. Principal Vicki Nairn said: "With regard to the submission of annual accounts, a number of UHI academic partners use the managed service provided by Audit Scotland which is delivered by Deloitte’s.

"UHI has raised concerns with Audit Scotland regarding the provision of this service and the impact on completion of annual accounts for some academic partners. We understand that Audit Scotland are currently reviewing this issue.”

In terms of the other UHI colleges, the 2022/23 accounts for Argyll, Orkney, Sabhal Mor Ostaig on Skye, and Shetland have been finalised.

Argyll, Sabhal Mor Ostaig and Shetland reported positive cash balances at the end of July 2023. Orkney does not report a cash balance as it forms part of the local authority.

An Audit Scotland spokesperson said: “Public bodies and auditors across the UK are working hard to improve the timeliness of auditing of public accounts, following significant disruption in recent years.

"There are several reasons for accounts being certified after the target dates. These include a phased return to pre-pandemic deadlines, resulting in consecutively truncated time with which to prepare and audit accounts; capacity and resourcing pressures at public bodies; capacity and prioritisation issues at auditors; the introduction of new accounting standards; and the quality and timeliness of the material being submitted for audit.”



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