58-point checklist of good practice

September 22, 1995

It had to happen. Borchester, the nearest thing the neverending radio soap The Archers has to the sinful city, now has a university.

And it is just the kind of university that fits the dramatic requirements of a soap opera - beset by an expected annual deficit of Pounds 1 million, inadequate financial control systems, an unwieldy committee structure and management consultants called to handle the crisis.

Alarmingly like the real thing, you might think. But that is possibly not so surprising. This University of Borchester is not the brainchild of the fertile fantasists who script everyday tales of countryfolk, but a flight of fancy from the Higher Education Funding Council for England.

Just as well really, given the angst occasioned in further education circles by the periodic portrayal of Borchester Tech as a hive of licence, skiving and troglodytic academic standards. HEFCE's brief break into outright fiction has its purpose with a case study of the U of B leavening a deeply serious document which is unlikely to be turned into a major radio series: The Financial Health of Higher Education Institutions in England - A Report on Good Practice.

How the university counters its financial worries illustrates the series of recommendations in last year's National Audit Office report on higher education finances and complementary work by the council's audit service and institutions and programmes division.

Distributed this week to institutions, it offers a check-list of 58 points of good practice under 11 headings as a bench mark for good practice.

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