Skip to main content
Article thumbnail
Location of Repository

The risk university: Risk identification at higher education institutions in England

By Michael Huber


In 2000, the Higher Education Funding Council of England required all universities to implement risk management as a governance tool since it expected an increase in efficiency in decision making. While the regulatory regime has been described in literature, the response of universities remained greatly unknown. This paper outlines a first attempt to investigate the identification strategies of academic risks. Based on a limited set of risk registers developed by universities covering the entire range of English universities, this discussion paper presents three major findings. Firstly, universities could not capture the core functions of universities, teaching and research, with organisational means. Secondly, universities had to find proxies that they could link up with organisational decisions. In this context, the emerging concept of reputational risk provides an all-purpose tool for risk management allowing universities to capture all possible challenges and problems in terms of risk. Thirdly, when universities identify academic risks, structural features such size, international and research orientation or the degree of collegiality in decision making shape the way academic risks are defined. These initial findings could direct further research that seems essential for better understanding of academic risk management and its effect on universities

Topics: L Education (General)
Publisher: Centre for Analysis of Risk and Regulation, London School of Economics and Political Science
Year: 2011
OAI identifier:
Provided by: LSE Research Online

Suggested articles


  1. (1972). A garbage can model of organizational choice’, doi
  2. (2006). A theory of risk colonisation: the spiralling logics of societal and institutional risk’, doi
  3. (2003). Academic risk: quality risk management in higher education’, HEFCE Good Management Practice Project Interim Report.
  4. (2007). Are universities specific organisations?’,
  5. (2010). Colonised by risk. The emergence of academic risks in English higher education’, doi
  6. (2000). Constructing organizations: the example of public sector reform’, doi
  7. (1994). Die Form der Universität’, doi
  8. (1990). Die Wissenschaft der Gesellschaft. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp Luhmann, doi
  9. (1978). Economy and society. doi
  10. (2000). Education Funding Council for England
  11. (1976). Educational organizations as loosely coupled systems’, doi
  12. (1984). Effective management techniques in tertiary administration: a risk management framework’, doi
  13. (2008). Fundamental ignorance in the regulation of reactor safety and flooding. The risk of knowledge management in the risk society’,
  14. (1977). Institutionalized organizations: formal structures as myth and ceremony’, doi
  15. (1990). Institutions, institutional change and economic performance. Cambridge: doi
  16. (2006). Policy drivers in UK higher education in historical perspective: ‘inside out’, ‘outside in’ and the contribution to research’, doi
  17. (2006). Quality risk management. Modernising the architecture of quality assurance’, Perspectives: Policy and Practice doi
  18. (1973). Recognition and excellence. Instructive ambiguities. In R.K. Merton, The sociology of science. Theoretical and empirical investigations.
  19. (2001). Regulierungsmodelle und Machtstrukturen an Universitäten’, doi
  20. (2009). Reputational risk as a logic of organizing in late modernity’, doi
  21. (2008). Risk management: briefing for governors and senior managers, 01/ 24 <> HEFCE (2001b) Risk management: a guide to good practice for higher education institutions,
  22. (2001). Risk regulation under pressure. problem solving or blame shifting?’, doi
  23. (1997). The audit society. Rituals of verification. Oxford: doi
  24. (2003). The British regulatory state. High modernism and hyper innovation. doi
  25. (1991). The iron cage revisited: institutional isomorphism and collective rationality’, doi
  26. (1973). The Matthew effect in science’, in R.K. Merton, The sociology of science. Theoretical and empirical investigations. doi
  27. (2007). The role of rankings in codifying a business school template: classifications, diffusion and mediated isomorphism in organizational fields’, doi
  28. (1963). The uses of the university. Cambridge MA:
  29. (2006). Turning the university into an organizational actor’,
  30. (2009). University of Cambridge risk register’, last accessed 7

To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.