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Education

OfS managing the risks

The Office for Students (OfS), the independent regulator of higher education in England, is based on the outskirts of Bristol, with a workforce of around 450.

Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), the OfS’s predecessor, became a client of SureCloud in 2017, using the software firm’s GDPR Data Privacy Management Suite to support and enhance their GDPR data protection compliance. Office for Students has been looking to add to its approach to risk management. The focus was initially risk policies and procedures, for reporting to show transparency, and to identify and manage risks enterprise-wide, systematically. The organisation felt that its technology was becoming a limiting factor rather than an enabler. The OfS was relying on numerous spreadsheets to assess and monitor types of risk – these were inconsistent, time-consuming and error-prone. The OfS needed a single product to manage and monitor all its risk management.

Office for Students has been a SureCloud client for cybersecurity services since March 2017 and began deploying that firm’s governance, risk and compliance (GRC) product in July 2017 to assist with meeting GDPR. OfS had the cyber firm’s Risk Management Application configured, ready ahead of schedule.

Ben Whitestone, Head of Governance at the Office for Students said: “SureCloud got to grips with our requirements incredibly quickly. As the only independent regulator for higher education in England, we regulate in the interests of hundreds of thousands of students, and we take that responsibility very seriously. Managing the risks we face is an important part of our governance. But with our legacy systems, we were focused more on updating spreadsheets than actually managing risk. SureCloud’s Platform is enabling us to take a far more agile approach to risk management, focussing on taking action to mitigate threats and exploit opportunities, with substantial time and cost savings as a result.

“SureCloud’s Platform has moved us away from using a series of disparate spreadsheets and countless emails for recording risk – with all of the potentials for errors that entails – to a single, centralised source of risk information for every member of staff. It’s dynamic and agile – if we want to get a snapshot of risk for a particular department or function, we can.

“Despite us being at the start of our risk management journey, we are very pleased with how quickly staff can get to grips with the SureCloud Platform, this was a key factor for us. They can more or less log on and go – it’s extremely intuitive and easy-to-use. In turn, this means that it frees up a huge amount of time spent manually inputting or transferring information, which is a great advantage for us.

“We undertook a great deal of work to evolve our culture of risk management, to one that was far more consistent and proactive,” said Whitestone. “With SureCloud’s Risk Management solution in place, we have the systems to underpin that culture, and enable us to take a far more streamlined, agile and accurate approach to help manage risk across the organisation.”

Picture by Mark Rowe; University of Bristol.


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