Higher Education sector risk profile 2023

Managing risk in Higher Education

Resilience of Higher Education (HE) institutions has again been tested by the ever changing risk environment. In particular, over the last 12 months, the sector has become more aware of the instant impact operational, strategic and global events can have, whilst having to place greater focus on the longer-term risks which could impact the stability of most institutions.

Our annual risk register benchmarking exercise has identified a number of key risk ‘themes’ faced by the sector and how institutions are dealing with them. We look at each one, discussing how institutions are worrying less about pension security and the political landscape (as seen in previous years) and more about the risks of cyber security and sustainability.

Interestingly, with many universities operating in aging estates with a lack of funding in physical facilities in recent years, infrastructure is also a new challenge identified in 2023. We believe this may increase in relevance in the future.

The below shows the key risk themes identified over the past few years. Please read the full report for further details or reach out to us if you have any questions:

  2018/19 2019/20 2020/21 2021/22 2022/23
1 Pensions Pensions Cyber security and information governance Financial sustainability Cyber security
2 Government policy and political landscape International student recruitment COVID-19 Cyber security Sustainability, environment and climate change
3 Student recruitment Business continuity / cyber security Student experience Student experience Financial sustainability
4 Reputation Postgraduate student recruitment Mental wellbeing Research Infrastructure:  university estates and capacity
5 Information security / cyber security Undergraduate student recruitment Student recruitment Infrastructure IT infrastructure

Contact us

Alison Breadon

Alison Breadon

Partner, Government and Heath Industries Risk Leader, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)7740 894817

Ben Connor

Ben Connor

Director, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)7889 644879

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