Education

The education market is complex and unique, and involves numerous stakeholders. Educational institutions must provide a rich learning environment and also care for students’ physical and emotional welfare. High levels of regulation and risk management are features of this sector, so educational institutions must have strong governance in place to succeed.

Issues

  • State and federal regulations are numerous and include licensing to deliver education to set standards, accreditation of teaching staff and programs, and occupational health and safety laws.
  • Accountability is a key feature of good governance, so boards must provide appropriate policy settings, reviews, and educational and financial standards.
  • Any small failure by an educational institution can have a significant impact on its reputation and enrolment, so boards must manage risk and ensure they have the right people and skills to govern to a high standard.
  • The transparency of social media means institutions can face reputational damage more quickly and easily than ever before.
  • Government funding can be taken away if an institution does not adhere to standards.
  • Changes to government regulation and policy can also have an immediate impact on an institution’s survival and its reputation (for example, international schools failed overnight when they lost vast numbers of students due to visas being cut).
  • Public schools are following the private school approach by seeking greater community input, so there is a growing need for strong board members and strong community involvement.
  • Current government policy gives greater financial autonomy to institutions, which increases the need to attract the right people to deliver high-level governance and financial controls.
  • The socioeconomic status of the community strongly influences profitability, particularly for private schools and childcare centres.

Questions that should be asked

Stakeholders in the education system should ask themselves:

  • What is the quality of the board – are they professional or volunteers from the community? Do they have the balance of skills required to govern, such as financial, legal, people, educational or community experience?
  • Do they have a clear governance policy?
  • Do they have a business plan?
  • What is the quality of the teaching staff, particularly the principal or other executive?
  • If the institution owns property, does it have a sinking fund for capital expenditure and refurbishment? If it leases buildings, what are the terms of the lease and who is responsible for refurbishment and outgoings?
  • How is this institution different from others in its area or market? What does it specialise in?
  • What is the institution’s reputation?

Our expertise

Our education specialists have a deep understanding of government policies and regulation. We also have a very sound understanding of the governance and financial management standards required to run a successful educational institution.

We have advised on a range of education projects for the private sector as well as financiers, equity houses (local and overseas) and government (Commonwealth and state).

Our experience includes:

  • operational and process reviews
  • financial analysis
  • acquisitions, mergers and divestment strategies
  • understanding and optimising key performance drivers
  • performance and best practice benchmarking
  • restructuring
  • maximising government funding opportunities
  • navigating through changing government regulations.
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