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DISCLOSURE BY ENGLISH FURTHER EDUCATION COLLEGES: A STUDY OF ANNUAL REPORTS IN AN ERA OF CHANGING GOVERNANCE

Avison, Lynn (2019) DISCLOSURE BY ENGLISH FURTHER EDUCATION COLLEGES: A STUDY OF ANNUAL REPORTS IN AN ERA OF CHANGING GOVERNANCE. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

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Abstract

English General Further Education (FE) colleges have experienced many changes in recent decades including declining government funding and successive governments’ reforms. The 2011 Education Act, the publication of the Foundation Code of Governance and the New Challenges New Chances policy reform programme introduced the opportunity for new freedoms in governance as well as increased focus on accountability. Using a multi-theoretical lens, this thesis aims to investigate the accountability of, and extent of disclosure made by, FE colleges in their annual reports for the period 2011-2013 following these reforms. In particular, the study aims to identify the extent of disclosure during the period and whether any observable patterns and trends emerge. In addition, it investigates what factors explain the variation in both general disclosure and disclosure about governance.

A self-constructed disclosure index of 143 items grouped into 24 categories was created and used to conduct content analysis of the narrative sections of annual reports, to measure the extent of disclosure for a sample of 101 colleges. The final sample size was arrived at following a Freedom of Information (FOI) request. Correlation and multiple regression analysis were used to test the hypotheses proposed to explore the association between disclosure scores (total and governance) for 2013 and factors that could influenced is close for example, size, number of board meetings and use of co-opted members.

A major initial finding is that many FE colleges were not making their annual reports accessible on their website and some did not provide them even after a FOI request, indicating a lack of accountability. The results also suggest variability in the extent of disclosure. However, no observable patterns or trends emerged over the three year period, suggesting no apparent impact on disclosure due to changes and reforms.

The findings of the statistical analysis identified only one factor; co-opted members, as having a positive and statistically significant association with both the total and governance index scores. Size, leverage, auditors, number of governors, number of governor and audit committee meetings, HE provision and corporate governance code adopted were shown to have no significant effect on disclosure.

The study contributes to the limited literature on accountability and disclosure in the education sector. It is the first such study in the FE sector, previous studies having focused on higher education. The findings suggest, inter alia, that the requirement in the 2017-18 college account guidance that FE colleges publish their full annual report on their websites by 31 January 2019 is a useful one. Future research could check whether this is taking place and, with this study as a benchmark, track whether FE colleges’ disclosure changes over time.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: L Education > L Education (General)
Schools: Huddersfield Business School
Depositing User: Rebecca Hill
Date Deposited: 18 Jul 2019 12:53
Last Modified: 18 Jul 2019 13:00
URI: http://eprints.hud.ac.uk/id/eprint/34945

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