The Office for Students, our regulator, identifies risk as “the threat or possibility that an action or event will adversely or beneficially affect an organisation’s ability to achieve its objectives.”
Our risk management framework supports identification of risks across the College, promoting the use of risk as a decision-support tool for Imperial. In developing our College risk profile, we consider both top-down and bottom-up threat and opportunity risks alongside external factors and influences.
Our College risks are ranked based on a combination of likelihood over a three to five year rolling period and their potential impact on the delivery of the strategic objectives of the College; those with the highest ranking are included in the College Risk Register.
Controls are identified for all of our College risks and we regularly review mitigation strategies in line with changes in our operating environment.
The College risk profile is formally reviewed annually by the President’s Board, the Audit and Risk Committee and the Council. Our Internal Auditors conduct an annual audit of risk management to provide additional assurance.
Key points to emerge from our 2019 College risk review were:
- Our most significant risks are ‘financial sustainability’ and ‘operational transformation and change’;
- A new risk relating to ‘NHS partnerships’ was introduced;
- Cyber risk was incorporated into our business disruption risk;
- Our 2018 top-rated risks on ‘staff recruitment and retention’ and ‘space and infrastructure’ remain on the risk register but have reduced in severity due to efforts to improve the risk control environment over the last 12 months.
Current risk management activity is focused on departmental risk engagement, process and policy development, risk deep-dives by the risk management team in specific areas for increased assurance, and business continuity planning for Brexit, pensions and climate change scenarios.
The risk deep-dives are being used to create practical opportunities for discussion on risk and help to develop and embed our risk culture across the College.