NCAD investment an ‘absolute scandal’

The Higher Education Authority (HEA) has come under criticism for failing to appropriately monitor the financial statements of the National College of Art and Design.

NCAD’s accounts have not been audited since September 2010.

The college has received over €10 million from the HEA each year for the past eight years.

However, the latter did not question the delay in provision of accounts from the college.

The Comptroller and Auditor General, Séamus McCarthy, says that NCAD’s accounting practices were “not fit for purpose.”

Fine Gael TD Patrick O’Donovan says the college’s failure to “provide a certified set of accounts” is an “absolute scandal”.

Professor Declan McGonagle, Director of NCAD has acknowledged the college’s failure to provide these accounts, in a statement issued on NCAD’s website, on 22 January of this year.

He states; “We regret those failures, clearly – both that they were allowed to occur in the first place, and that such customs and practice built up over a period and that legacy was not reformed in a timely fashion.”

He also says that the college has made “much progress” since, and that “the college was going through a period of substantial change in the education sector, resulting in significant challenges and new pressures.”

McGonagle also says that the funding provided to the college over the eight year period was used for its intended purpose.

“The College focused on sustaining its provision of excellence in Art and Design education, for increasing numbers of students in Ireland. This focus was successful and our student numbers increased by 33% over that period.”

He states that the college will be “completely up-to-date with accounts audits” by this summer.

The statement was published on the same day as the Public Accounts Committee met to discuss the Comptroller and Auditor General’s report on the lack of oversight at the art and design college.

The report showed delays of 39 months and 27 months respectively for the financial periods of 2008-2009 and 2009-2010.

Following this, the HEA announced that they are to enhance their auditing processes, and audit the financial statements of all higher education institutions more thoroughly.

Chief Executive of the HEA, Tom Boland, says the authority are considering spot checking colleges in future.

It was also agreed that failure to provide sufficient financial accounts may now result in a cut to funding to third level colleges.

This would have a negative effect on NCAD, who recently suffered a loss in resources. The art college is currently unable to replace a broken furnace on campus, forcing final year glass students to travel as far as Leitrim and Waterford in order to sufficiently carry out their practical course in 2012.

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