The Swedish National Audit Office (Swedish NAO) has examined how higher education institutions run their holding companies and has found that deficiencies in governance and administration result in the companies not being run in a sufficiently business-like and effective manner. The deficiencies are partly due to the Government’s governance of universities and other higher education institutions.
In the 1990s, the Riksdag decided that a number of holding companies would be affiliated to Swedish universities and other higher education institutions. The purpose was to facilitate commercialisation of research results and innovations for the benefit of society.
There are currently 18 such holding companies. The Swedish NAO’s audit shows that, overall, the higher education institutions do not manage them actively and professionally with value creation as the overall goal. The conclusion is based on the following findings, among others:
“Far too high a proportion of the companies are not governed in a business-like, effective manner with sound financial management,” says Emelie Lilliefeldt, project leader for the audit.
The Swedish NAO considers that these problems are partly due to deficiencies in the Government’s governance, which has not provided the higher education institutions with the conditions for active, professional administration.
The audit findings also include the following:
“With the exception of appointing an inquiry in 2019, the Government’s governance in this area can be described as half-hearted at best. The fact that the higher education institutions have in many cases chosen to govern the companies with the same lack of commitment, makes the situation worse,” says Auditor General Helena Lindberg.
The Government is recommended to clarify which operations may be included in the companies, and how responsibility should be split between the company and the higher education institution. The Government should also investigate how the reporting chain between companies, education institutions and the Government can be developed.
The higher education institutions should develop their work on goals, strategies and risk management in the companies, and develop follow-up of the assignments agreed with the holding companies.
In order to develop the companies and avoid the risk of conflicts of interest, higher education institutions that have appointed the vice-chancellor or deputy vice-chancellor as chairman of the board should also consider appointing a chairman with clear business skills.
See the report for full recommendations.
Press contact: Olle Castelius, phone: +46 8-5171 40 04.
Presskontakt: Olle Castelius , telefon: 08-5171 42 06.
Send your questions or comments via the form below and we will make sure that they reach the right member of staff. Please state if your question concerns the information on this particular page.