Common Risks Faced by Educational Institutions


Running an educational institution is undoubtedly a great act of public good, is it not? From K-12 schools, colleges and universities to all manner of privately run schools, academies and training institutes, all are providing an essential service that is helping raise and educate the next generation of useful people in society. The future of education will likely involve a mix of online and in-person learning, personalized and adaptive instruction, and a greater focus on real-world skills

It’s not all nobility and grand matters of intellect, however, when it comes to running one of these institutions. Education establishments of all sizes and sorts face a litany of potential risks every day. Insurance packages for schools, colleges and adult learning centres have never been more important. But what are these risks that our education sector is facing?

1. Reputation Risks

Educational institutions live or die on their reputations, which can be tarnished overnight even when no wrongdoing has been committed. This is the tragedy of reputation loss in the modern information age where so much of what is said online and across other media is fueled by personal feelings rather than objective facts.

Besides the many genuine things that can happen to generate negative press — bullying incidents, student self-harm, illicit relationships between teachers and students, poor academic results…the list goes on even the false suggestion of these things in online circles can do so much to harm a school’s reputation. Educational institutions need protection from this type of risk.

2. Risks of Privacy Breaches and Data Loss

The growing risk of cyberattacks is a very real threat that educational institutions need to be ready for. When even the largest organisations are at risk, that makes the potential for malware and other attacks on smaller institutions all the more likely.

A cyberattack doesn’t just mean your website could get taken down or maliciously altered, or that your emails are being spied on. It could more seriously mean that the data of your staff and students is stolen from digital records potentially to be exposed or sold to other bad actors. This has all kinds of security implications, but most often it can mean exposure of private matters such as student health situations.

For instance, if after a data loss it were determined that a student at the school was HIV positive, and that information came to public light, it would spell serious consequences for all parties involved.

3. Regulatory Compliance Breaches

It doesn’t matter in which state or territory you operate your learning institution, you are always faced with a pile of serious rules, regulations, and matters of compliance. That in itself is not necessarily a problem since education is a serious business, especially where kids are concerned.Educational organisations need to be well protected from exposure to potential breaches of those regulations and compliance rules. Such breaches could be carried out by rogue members of staff, disgruntled former employees, or simply current employees who are incompetent or otherwise making terrible errors. In all events, protection is needed.

4. Physical Security of Staff and Students

Horror stories from countries like the US of school shootings may not be repeated exactly that way in Australia since the gun amnesty, but that doesn’t mean everyone’s safety is guaranteed. Public shootings and attacks on minority groups and others can easily spill into schools and learning centres since they are places where people gather daily and on a regular basis, making them desirable targets for terrorists and other deranged individuals.

5. Operational Risks

Finally, there are other operational risks to consider such as teachers and other staff falling foul of new and important policies, problems with teachers not showing up and there being trouble with substitute staff, and of course even the potential for teachers and other staff refusing to work or going on strike. These are all common operational risks that public and private schools, as well as private learning centres, all have to be prepared for.

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