We’ve all seen various colleges and universities in the news lately, and the news was not always positive. Higher education institutions face a varied and formidable army of risks, including operational, financial, regulatory and reputational.
Why Data Analytics?
Universities accumulate massive amounts of information, often from incongruent sources (databases, spreadsheets, ERP systems, etc.). Employee turnover and the constant entry of new students often leads to limited monitoring and data analysis.
Data analytics offers the ability to combine different data sources to evaluate data and form hypotheses to uncover potential fraud, abuse, financial losses, noncompliance and quality issues. A few types of analytics include grouping by transactions, duplication identification, and Benford’s law queries. It is also important to note the importance of ensuring data integrity on the front end, so that data is accurate, relevant and consistent.
The uses of data analytics are endless. Below are just a few examples of how data analytics can be applied in the higher education sector.
Transactions outside a grant’s effective dates
Act 153 Employee Compliance
Financial Aid and Student Awards
Excess financial aid
Course withdrawals that would result in corresponding aid reduction
Duplicate student awards or invalid addresses
Missing refund check numbers
Multiple address changes
Compare refund payments to refund policy
Travel and Expense
Noncompliance with policy
Purchasing and Procurement
Duplicate payments between accounts payable and purchase cards
Inappropriate or unusual charges
Split charges to circumvent limits
Salaries and Payroll
Payments to same bank account
Excessive salary increases
Comparing ledger amounts to check amounts
Why Internal Audit?
Internal Audit is trained and experienced to provide insights into data using their knowledge of operations, organizational structure and business processes. Also, Internal Audit has specific expertise in identifying, mitigating and managing risk. As a result, Internal Audit has a unique ability to compile and analyze data to provide valuable opportunities to maximize effectiveness and minimize risk.
Internal Auditing in Higher Education Using Data Analytics to Uncover Fraud & Abuse. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://idea.caseware.com.
Menditto, S. and Wheeler, M. (2018, July/August). Data 411. Business Officer, 58-64.
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Material discussed is meant for informational purposes only, and it is not to be construed as investment, tax, or legal advice. Please note that individual situations can vary. Therefore, this information should be relied upon when coordinated with individual professional advice.