PAC report calls for third level institutions to implement transparent policies around spending and protected disclosures

The PAC has today called for greater transparency in the management of the financial accounts of third-level institutions.

The PAC has today called for greater transparency in the management of the financial accounts of third-level institutions.

The Committee’s Report on the Examination of Financial Statements in the Third Level Education Sector focusses on a sample of seven third level institutions whose financial accounts were examined by the Committee over the past number of months.

The report is highly critical of the prevalence of delays in producing up-to-date accounts and draws attention to the need for a greater oversight role of the sector for the Higher Education Authority.

Committee Chair, Seán Fleming TD, said, “The third-level education sector received over €1.5billion of public money each year in 2014 and 2015. In addition, the Comptroller and Auditor General has highlighted a number of issues relating to third level governance and financial management and this created a real need for the Committee to engage with the sector in some depth to examine these matters.”

“The Committee is particularly disturbed by the practice that sees many third level institutions fail to furnish their accounts to the C&AG on time, and one institute has produced their annual report for 2013 some 37 months after the year end. This practice is unacceptable.”

“The report also highlights and makes a number of recommendations in relation to breaches in procurement rules in the sector, difficulties and challenges in relation to Intellectual Property and spin-out companies, the lack of transparency around foundations and trusts, and the need for universities to deal with protected disclosures much better. We expect the Department of Education and Skills, the Higher Education Authority and the third-level institutions to act on the Committee’s recommendations.”

Alan Kelly, Vice Chair, said, “This Report is a step in the right direction, however the work of the PAC regarding third level colleges will continue in our next term. By way of example, we will be asking CIT and the HEA to return to the PAC early next term to discuss the process by which CIT investigated the allegations made in 2014 and also the decision making of the HEA to proceed with the merger of CIT and Tralee IT into a Technological University and the costs associated with it.”

ENDS/

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Committee Membership:

Chairperson: Seán Fleming (Fianna Fáil)

Bobby Aylward (Fianna Fáil)
Peter Burke (Fine Gael)
Shane Cassells (Fianna Fáil)
Catherine Connolly (Independent)
David Cullinane (Sinn Féin)
Alan Kelly (Labour)
Marc MacSharry (Fianna Fáil)
Mary Lou McDonald (Sinn Féin)
Noel Rock (Fine Gael)
Catherine Murphy (Social Democrats-Green Party Group)