University accountability in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland: 1992-1994

  • Banks W
  • Fisher J
  • Nelson M
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Abstract

This paper examines the quantity and quality of information disclosed in the annual reports and financial statements of universities in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland (EWNI) over the 1992 to 1994 period. The EWNI results are compared to similar studies in New Zealand and Ontario (Canada). The Modified Accountability Disclosure (MAD) Index proposed and used by Coy et al. (1993a, 1993b) in a review of New Zealand's universities was employed to determine for each university in EWNI, the quantity and quality of disclosure. The MAD index includes several key performance indicators and is subdivided into the four categories of overview, service performance, financial performance, and physical and financial condition. The first finding is that there has not been a statistically significant change in the quantity or quality of disclosure. This is interesting in light of the statement on accounting practice in the U.K. (CVCP 1989) calling for greater disclosure and accountability by universities. The second finding is that the "established" universities tended to have better quality disclosure than "new" universities (i.e., former polytechnics) in the categories of service performance and financial performance. The third finding is that the universities in EWNI were below the quantity and quality disclosure levels of the universities in New Zealand but above universities in Ontario. The failure to adequately disclose key performance indicators points out the need for further disclosure changes if universities are to satisfy increasing demands for greater public accountability. In New Zealand greater disclosure resulted from the Education Amendment Act (1990). In EWNI and Canada progress towards more disclosure is not yet apparent. © 1997 JAI Press, Inc. All rights of reproduction in any form reserved.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Annual reports
  • Disclosure
  • Not-for-profit

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Authors

  • W. Banks

  • J. Fisher

  • M. Nelson

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