Governance and Assurance Hub

Non-executive roles

Ann Brook wrote an article for the Audit and Risk Magazine, issued by the Chartered Institute of Internal Auditors in their April/May 2014 edition. The article focused on how Internal Audit professionals (and also risk professionals) can apply their skills to the non-executive director role and how this can help further career progression.

Having a career in internal audit is not always by deliberate choice and many fall into it by accident. The rewards of the career are clear as it comes with a great deal of variety and a sense that the role can make a difference to the organisation. However if you find yourself at the top of the career ladder as Head of Internal Audit – what is your next personal challenge?

Having a non-executive director role, as a governor for a local school/college or for your local Foundation NHS Trust is one way to use your internal audit skills and it enables you to experience the other side of the governance fence – what is it really like to be on a board or an audit committee?

There is much commentary in the media from governance professionals about diversity, skills mix on boards and the need for challenge to take place robustly and transparently to provide independence of thought at a strategic level in every organisation. The skills that internal auditors gain throughout their career focusing strategically, being expert communicators, influencers and challengers mean that we are suited to these positions and can bring fresh ideas to the board room. So internal audit and risk professionals everywhere should take up the challenge and become a volunteer board member and we can then all help improve corporate governance standards in organisations.

Teaching from afar

Learning is not something which ever stops and we often learn unexpectedly - quite simply by accident. We also know though that students need to be able to access structured learning and have time to reflect on and challenge their understanding. Many students do not sit in front of a lecturer or teacher anymore and the evolution of online learning is increasing. Here at the Centre for Internal Audit, Governance and Risk Management we have a higher proportion of flexible learners than those that sit in our lecture rooms. We are always looking at ways to interact with the students, but also increase their interaction with each other, as often it is the interaction with their fellow students which helps them.

Many students also have to balance many pressures and therefore the means to learn have to be flexible and allow students to pick the time and mode of their study. This is why online methods of teaching have been developing for many years in education and have been adopted here in the Centre. We already employ a virtual learning system (known as Moodle) and are now developing this to make sure we use all the features available as part of our teaching as well as assessment. We are also looking at other tools available from the University but also expanding our involvement in social media.

Our students already tell us that their learning experience is really positive but through this development we aim to enhance this even further.

Centre staff nominated for going the Extra Mile

Two lecturers within the Centre for Internal Audit, Governance and Risk Management were recently nominated and shortlisted for the University's prestigious Extra Mile awards.

Ann Brook was delighted to be nominated in the category for Personal Tutor of the Year, and Alan Robson was nominated in the Engaging and Inspiring Teacher of the Year category.

This marks the third consecutive year that staff from the Centre have been nominated for an award, with academic and administrative staff being recognised in both the 2012 and 2013 awards. Lead Senior Academic for the Centre, Andy Hollyhead, congratulated both nominees, commenting: “It is always good to get recognition for hard work, and the fact that these nominations come from students makes them particularly worthwhile. I am very proud of them both.”

Sporting ambitions

Proving there is life outside of work, Alan Robson is the sportsman of the Centre. Over the years Alan has played many sports. In his teens, he was a county-standard badminton player, a county cup winning goalkeeper on the hockey pitch and also represented his college at cricket.

When Alan moved to the West Midlands he soon joined Bloxwich Hockey Club where he resumed his goalkeeping position but also became an accomplished right back. He captained the third team for a season but a knee injury ended his playing days. Not wanting to leave the sport he then became a level 1 umpire.

Looking for a new challenge Alan followed his children into the sport of karate. Alan commented, “It was tough, as someone in their late 40s training with kids and teenagers, but it was fun as well”. Initially Alan simply trained for enjoyment and fitness, but the club, Chase Wado Kai, had a very successful competition squad and it wasn't long before Alan was part of it!

Competitions are categorised by age and ability, so you don’t need to be a black belt to be successful. Alan is currently a 4th Kyu purple belt, and over the past few years has accumulated several medals and trophies, perhaps the most prestigious being a silver from the Tobi Ishi Kai British Championships. He has also competed as part of the England Wado Kai squad.

Although many of Alan's weekends are taken up playing sport, he is also a keen football supporter. But there is no glory hunting as Alan supports Darlington FC. The only time Alan has ever been speechless was when they scored in the very last minute of extra time at Wembley to win the FA Trophy. “I had that goal as my screen saver for about two years... just to make sure it happened” Alan stated.

Not all sports are to Alan's taste though. He said, “I tried running but it didn’t interest me, although I have done two half marathons and a 12K just to make sure. Someone recently suggested a triathlon which I agreed to, but I'm hoping they have forgotten! Alan is always on the lookout for a new sport to try!

ISACAs CISA certification enhances your earning potential

In a recent survey by ITJobsWatch the average salary for people with a CISA certification in the UK was £55,000, and 10 per cent of respondents were earning over £80,000. Within the West Midlands the average salary was slightly lower at £53,750, but this represented an increase of 13 per cent over the previous year.

These figures demonstrate the value that the CISA certification offers not only to individuals, but also to organisations that are now taking IT audit and IT security issues very seriously. ISACA have been offering CISA examinations for 36 years and there are now more than 100,000 CISA certifications worldwide, making it the foremost IT audit qualification. With the ever increasing pervasiveness of IT into all areas of business, the realisation of the need and importance of good auditing of the IT function ensure the qualification is as important now as it has ever been.

Within the Centre we have run a very successful CISA course for many years. The course is conveniently split over a three-day intensive review course covering the material within the CISA syllabus, followed up (typically a month later) by a two-day revision boot camp which prepares candidates for the examination itself. While we recommend delegates attend both sections of the course, they are designed to be stand alone. Developed by Senior Academic Alan Robson, the course has had a 100 per cent success rate of those who attended both elements. Alan knows the issues involved with CISA having held the CISA certification himself for over seven years. He is also CISM certified and a member of the local ISACA Chapter committee.

PLEASE NOTE: The course can also be delivered at client premises. We would also be interested in hearing from organisations looking for a Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) course of a similar nature. Please contact us to discuss your requirements.

For dates and prices of the next course please contact Alan Robson by email or phone on +44 (0)121 331 6292.

All change!

There have been a number of changes in the Centre over the last six months, and as we say goodbye to some people, we also welcome a new academic.

Professor Robin Pritchard left the centre in October 2013 to become the Chief Executive of Gateway Assure, a company offering internal audit, counter fraud, training, security management and consultancy services. Robin will still be seen around the campus however as a visiting professorship has been conferred on him. We also said a sad farewell to Angela Reynolds in April 2014, after many years providing course administration support to the centre.

Robin’s departure was an opportunity to reflect on the position of the Centre within Birmingham City Business School, and it is now part of the Department of Management, Human Resources and Enterprise. Andy Hollyhead is now the Lead Senior Academic, providing operational and academic leadership for the Centre. Alan Day continues to bring his financial expertise to Financial Risks and Controls and Financial Management modules, and Alan Robson’s Senior Academic position consolidates his work in IT Audit, Risk and Assurance.

In September 2013, we were delighted to welcome Ann Brook to the Centre, as Senior Lecturer in Internal Audit and Governance. Ann comes with a wealth of experience of Internal Audit, as well as being closely involved with the IIA Midlands chapter. She is working closely with the Internal Audit Educational Partnership (IAEP) for the Centre to gain the highest level of accreditation possible.

Dual Award results for July 2013

The Centre for Internal Audit, Governance and Risk Management is delighted to announce the significant achievements of students on the Dual Award programme which shows an overall average 94.9 per cent pass rate for students sitting examinations for the first time. UK based students on block release and flexible learning programmes achieved a 98.2 per cent pass rate with international students on the full time programme recording an average 91.6 per cent achievement.

Head of Centre Professor Robin Pritchard commenting on the outcomes, reflected on the increasing consistency of the achievements of Birmingham City University students. As well as benefiting from the practical and real world nature of the training being provided, this also helps students to appreciate current thinking in respect of good governance, risk and assurance.

"The focus of the course prepares students not only to deal with scenario based assessment effectively but also results in preparing them for a career within internal audit teams working with executive management and Audit Committees. The course is delivered by a consistent and experienced lecturing team, who understand the importance to both students and employers of passing assessments first time in terms of both costs and time commitment, and therefore the emphasis that is placed on supporting individual students needs through effective tutor support, is also fundamental to achieving such excellent results."

The Dual Award allows students of the Centre, which is an Accredited Training Provider, to achieve an academic and professional qualification through a single assessment process administered by the University.

Enrolment for 2013/14 starts in September 2013 or January 2014. Students wishing to discuss individual training needs should contact either: Robin Pritchard or the Centre Administrator Angela Reynolds on +44 (0)121 331 6595.

Course fees for 2013/14 remain at £4500 pa (inclusive of all IIA subscriptions, admission fees, examination exemption fees and learning materials) and are applied on a pro-rata modular basis.

Dual Award results analysis July 2013

Business Ethics: is Internal Audit really bothered?

The Centre for Internal Audit, Governance and Risk Management has undertaken a new research study following the latest media coverage of unacceptable ethical practices by Boards in both the public and private sectors. The study which looks at how widely ethical policies have been introduced, and focuses on the extent to which Internal Audit has as yet provided assurance that such policies are contributing to organisational success.

The headlines show that:

  • 81 per cent of organisations have implemented ethical polices.
  • Only 32 per cent of the sample of internal audit teams had reviewed the appropriateness and effectiveness of these policies.
  • Concerns had been raised by internal audit regarding best practice, compliance and a failure to properly evaluate outcomes.

The Centre concluded that Internal Audit needed to get involved in this strategically important area as the risks to stakeholders from not being ethical are likely to be increasingly significant.

Ethical Business Practice: the involvement of internal audit

Centre holds 'Question Time' style debate

On Thursday 21 March, the Centre for Internal Audit, Governance and Risk Management held a 'Question Time' style question and answer session for its MSc students about to embark upon their dissertation. The expert panel consisted of practitioners with experience from a wide range of commercial, government and voluntary sectors:

  • Allan Geekie - Capgemini's Assurance Risk and Compliance Manager Michelle Kavanagh - Head of Internal Audit at the NEC Group
  • Kwadwo Owusu-Darko - Chair of Nehemiah United Churches Housing Association
  • Alan Day - Senior Lecturer Birmingham City University (Chair)
  • Christian Edger - Professor of Multi-Unit Leadership

Students asked the panel relevant and challenging questions on current topical areas including business ethics, risk management its relationship with corporate excellence, the role of internal audit in practice, the role of non-executive directors and whether we are becoming a risk averse society as a result of sheltered childhood! The event was chaired by Alan Day, Senior Lecturer in the Centre, who displayed his usual style of appropriate wit and incisiveness, maintaining order throughout the proceedings in true 'Dimbleby' style while also "bowling a few bouncers" along the way.

Christian Edger commented that the work of the Centre was "spot on, exactly what is required" in the world where stakeholders are demanding ever increasing assurance and where Internal Audit and Risk Management must play an active role.

All present (both panel and students) complemented the Centre on arranging the event. The Centre would like to express its thanks to the panel members who gave their time in order to make the event such a success and enrich the experience of its students.

Centre announces 2013 CISA training dates

We are pleased to confirm the 2013 CISA training dates here at Birmingham City Business School. The dates are as follows:

Review course

30 April - 2 May (3 days)
15-17 October (3 days)

Revision course

21-22 May (2 days)
21-22 November (2 days)

Prices are

Review course only £1,025
Revision course only £625
Both courses - £1,500 (£150 discount)

For further information please contact the Centre for Internal Audit Governance and Risk Management on +44 (0)121 331 6595 or via at email at

Audit Committees: what's essential, what's new?

Professor Robin Pritchard writing in the global journal Internal Auditing (February 2013) examined the important link between the role of the non-executive director and the expectations that reporting by the head of internal audit will focus on the most significant risks that the organisation is facing.

Nothing is new, but what is essential is that this process focuses on the interests of all stakeholders with a view to avoiding significant or even catastrophic organisational failure.

Read Professor Robin Pritchard's article

Dual Award results for July 2012

The Centre is delighted to announce the significant achievements of students on the Dual Award programme which shows an 88.1 per cent pass rate for students sitting examinations for the first time. UK based students on block release and flexible learning programmes achieved a 100 per cent pass rate with international students on the full time programme recording an average 80.1 per cent achievement.

Professor Robin Pritchard commenting on the outcomes pointed to the practical and real world nature of the training being provided as helping students to appreciate current thinking in respect of good governance, risk and assurance and the resulting impact on internal audit teams working with executive management and Audit Committees.

The Dual Award allows students of the Centre as Accredited Training Provider to achieve an academic and professional qualification through a single assessment process administered by the University.

Enrolment for 2012/13 is now taking place and students wishing to discuss individual training needs should contact either, Robin Pritchard or the Centre Administrator, Angela Reynolds.

Dual Award Results

Professor to speak on Audit Committee changes

Professor Robin Pritchard will speak at the IIA Midlands District Conference on 5 July 2012 and will focus on the challenge facing Audit Committees when business circumstances change. Robin will use his experience as Chair of the Audit Committee at the National Patient Safety Agency, which has been abolished under the current government austerity measures, to highlight how the focus of the Audit Committee must change to match the emerging and changing risk environment.

The morning will focus on the view and needs of the board and audit committee in relation to change, and how internal audit and risk management can be used to support them. The agenda will also cover the view from the profession on how it needs to adjust to meet those changing expectations.

The afternoon will begin on the topic of the ‘psychology of change’ from Pearn Kandola, whose presentation was so well received last year. It will then move onto how heads of internal audit need to react and plan for change and the difficulties that this can bring. Lastly the day will end with a reminder of how to audit change and the different approaches that can be used.

All enquiries and bookings should be directed by e-mail to the IIA Midlands events team.

Centre announces new deal with Chartered Institute of Internal Auditors

The Centre for Internal Audit, Governance and Risk Management is delighted to announce an important new collaboration with the Chartered Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA).

Birmingham City University is the first body to be approved to deliver their programme as a 'Dual Award' meaning that students registered on the stages of the MSc Audit Management and Consultancy programme are no longer required to sit additional examinations of the IIA in order to attain their professional designations and Chartered Internal Auditor Status (subject to membership and experience requirements). Clearly this now offers both students and employers a significant advantage both in terms of cost and time.

Given the excellent achievement rates of students within the University programme, where students average pass rates exceed 97 per cent, this offers a particularly effective cost effective way of achieving both a professional and academic qualification. The course programme will be delivered in full-time, block release and flexible learning modes.

Professor Robin Pritchard who heads the Centre observes that the course is having considerable success following its redesign to deliver the syllabus in a manner that reflects best professional practice in the field, as well as an understanding of the theoretical aspects of financial, IT and management risk. Additionally, tutoring arrangements are both pro-active and student focused and through introducing visiting practitioners from industry and government to guest lecture on each module. This adds significant experience from the public, private and voluntary sectors to our delivery. This represents significant added value and an excellent learning experience.

Francis Nicholson who is the Education Director with the IIA said "I am delighted to be launching this initiative in collaboration with Birmingham City University. We have been close partners for a number of years and the University has consistently delivered a very successful tuition programme as an accredited provider. The Dual Award is the next logical step in this relationship. We are happy to recognise the quality of the MSc and its constituent awards by removing the requirement to sit additional examinations with the IIA."

Terms and conditions apply*.

BCU delivers training as an accredited provider by the Chartered Institute of Internal Auditors for the examinations at IIA Diploma (PIIA) and IIA Advanced Diploma (CMIIA - Chartered Internal Auditor) levels and works with both the Institute of Risk Management and ISACA regarding other professional training.

For more details please visit the IIA website and follow the links to Qualifications or visit our Centre.

*Candidates need to be members of both the IIA and BCU throughout the period of study. These arrangements apply exclusively to those students who are signed up to the Dual Award scheme. It does not apply to BCU students retrospectively.

MSc Audit Management and Consultancy Graduate Nominated as Auditor General

The Centre for Internal Audit and Risk Management is pleased to announce that Mr Niyaz Ibrahim, a graduate of the MSc Audit Management and Consultancy programme, has been nominated as the new Auditor General for approval by the People's Majlis.

Birmingham City University student on top of the world

Richard Millichip, who has recently finished studying the first year of MSc Audit Management and Consultancy at Birmingham City Business School, received the Esther R Sawyer Research Award World Prize 2010 at the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) International Conference in Atlanta, Georgia.

The prize was established in 2000 in memory of Esther R Sawyer and her contribution to the profession of internal auditing, and as well as receiving an all-expenses-paid trip to the USA, Richard received $5,000. The award is open to students currently studying internal audit related qualifications at recognised education centres across the world. The IIA set a topic each year and invite submissions. This is the second time in five years that a student from Birmingham City University has won the coveted international award.

Richard said "I think the award shows I have a genuine interest in internal auditing and a flair for communicating that via a well-crafted paper. I also hope the award demonstrates my commitment, in voluntarily writing and submitting this paper in addition to the assignments and exams required by Birmingham City University. I think the course at the Birmingham City Business School is very good and I would definitely recommend it."

Birmingham City University is top accredited trainer for first time entrants to IIA examinations

The Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) has announced the results of the IIA Diploma and Advanced Diploma examinations for the main intake of IIA students in the June 2010 sitting. Once amended to take account of our unique position whereby our students are granted exemptions for three out of the five examinations at the Diploma level, the results show Birmingham City University as the top provider for first time entrants to the IIA programme. Additionally our students can also obtain exemptions at the IIA Advanced Diploma level in two out of four papers (M1 and M2), although currently results are not available in the same format.

Students passing Birmingham City University examinations in three papers (P1,P2 and P4) receive exemptions with the IIA and our students recorded 100 per cent pass rates in these.

In the remaining two papers our candidates scored a 70 per cent pass rate at the IIA examinations. In overall terms therefore out of 99 candidates who sat papers in 2009/10, our students achieved a pass rate of 90.1 per cent, some 30 per cent better than the lowest performer and 15 per cent better than the majority of accredited training providers.

This represents clear evidence of the value of learning in an academic environment in which recognised tutoring support is provided and supported by a comprehensive virtual learning environment based on IIA learning materials, (the cost of which is provided for in the enrolment fee); this allows students to study and revise in a manner that matches their busy work schedules. In turn, this maximises employer investment in training and gets students qualified in the shortest possible time, in order to aid career advancement.

For 2010/11 Birmingham City University held fee rates at £528 per module, the most competitively priced provision available.

MSc student completes internship at Capgemini

Caroline Mwangi, a full-time student on the MSc Audit Management and Consultancy programme in 2008/09, has recently completed a placement at Capgemini, a global leader in consulting, technology, outsourcing and local professional services operating in Europe, Asia and North and South America.

Caroline worked in the Aspire section of Capgemini UK that supplies IT service capability to HMRC. Within Aspire there are three business delivery models and 10 support functions. Internal Audit sits inside the organisation, within the Knowledge Management and Compliance (KMC) central function. It reports to the Aspire Finance Director through the KMC Manager.

Caroline says: "The internship offered me an opportunity to gain experience in my desired career in auditing. It offered realistic work preview and provided practical, supervised learning. The internship helped to apply classroom theory to a real work situation, which enhanced and strengthened my résumé by gaining an increased awareness of skills, attributes, personal qualities and values. Other than auditing skills, my oral and written communication have also improved."