Logotype The Swedish NAO

Unused funds at public higher education institutions

Swedish public higher education institutions (HEIs) have accumulated more than twelve billion kronor in unspent government appropriations and other grants and fees. The Swedish NAO notes that this is inefficient use of resources and wants to see clearer governance on the part of the Government.

Students reading at university library.

Photo: Moodboard

Audit background

The Swedish NAO has audited agency capital at public HEIs. The audit covers the period 2007–2016, and the auditees are the 31 public universities and university colleges and the Government.

Agency capital at HEIs consists of accumulated resources in the form of unused government allocations for research and education, and surpluses from activities funded by external grants or fees. At the turn of the year 2016/17 public universities and university colleges had total agency capital of SEK 12.3 billion. This is an increase of almost SEK 7 billion (in 2016 prices) since 2007, corresponding to 126 per cent.

According to the higher education institutions, the existence of agency capital provides better conditions for planning and economic stability and is an important resource for future strategic investments. In the opinion of the Swedish NAO, the fact that there is some shifting of resources over time is reasonable considering the complex operations and activities of the HEIs. However, the increasing extent to which allocated funds are accumulated without any specific plans of being used in the coming years, which has been the case for many HEIs, may indicate that some of the planned activities have been delayed or not implemented. Large accumulations of agency capital may also indicate mismanagement of state funds, which in turn may reduce confidence in the higher education sector as a whole.

All in all, this means that the Swedish NAO decided to audit agency capital at public universities and university colleges. 

Press contact: Olle Castelius, phone: +46 8-5171 40 04.

Presskontakt: , telefon: 08-5171 42 06.

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Updated: 27 March 2018

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