Funding chiefs logged 59 reports of fraud or financial irregularity last year, according to an annual audit report.
The Higher Education Funding Council for England's audit committee report for 2001-02 shows that institutions themselves reported 19 cases of fraud or attempted fraud and that whistleblowers raised 40 other cases.
The report says that of the 19 fraud cases, six unconnected incidents were reported by one unnamed institution. "There is no particular pattern among the 19 cases other than that they are mostly unsophisticated, involving crude cheque frauds, for example," the report says. "This highlights the need for vigilance in the operation of basic financial controls." One case involved the embezzlement of £43,000.
Hefce has issued new guidelines for whistleblowing by university staff. The guidelines are available at www.hefce.ac.uk, and whistleblowers can contact the clerk to Hefce's board, Simon Cannell, on 0117 931 7405. Whistleblowers can also contact The THES , in confidence, on the number below.