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Ordeal by audit

Auditors spend an average of 62 days a year in colleges, according to new research by the National Audit Office. Yet the NAO concludes that colleges are not subject to significantly more analysis than other public-sector bodies. Auditing has been a major source of complaint from principals, who object to the level of scrutiny they come under.

The NAO accepted that colleges were much more closely studied than in the past, but argued that this was a consequence of their independence.

The NAO report said: "The scope to lessen the extent of audit and inspection in the sector is limited and colleges cannot expect a substantial reduction in audit and other scrutinies. Colleges have been given accountability along with their independence and this is reflected by a level of audit and inspection commensurate with that responsibility."

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