Results of 2018 Audits: Universities

Tabled: 30 May 2019

Appendix F. Glossary


Responsibility of public sector entities to achieve their objectives in the reliability of financial reporting; effectiveness and efficiency of operations; compliance with applicable laws; and reporting to interested parties.

Adverse opinion

An audit opinion expressed if the auditor has sufficient appropriate audit evidence and concludes that misstatements, individually and in aggregate, are both material and pervasive in the financial report.


The systematic allocation of the depreciable amount of an intangible asset over its expected useful life.


An item or resource controlled by an entity that will be used to generate future economic benefits.

Asset valuation

The fair value of a non-current asset on a specified date.

Audit Act 1994

Victorian legislation establishing the Auditor-General's operating powers and responsibilities and detailing the nature and scope of audits that the Auditor-General may carry out.

Audit committee

Helps a governing board to fulfil its governance and oversight responsibilities and strengthen the accountability of senior management.

Audit opinion

A written expression, within a specified framework, indicating the auditor's overall conclusion about a financial (or performance) report based on audit evidence.

Calendar year

The period of a year beginning with 1 January and ending with 31 December.

Capital expenditure

Money an entity spends on:

  • new physical assets, including buildings, infrastructure, plant and equipment
  • renewing existing physical assets to extend their service potential or life.
Capital-grant/capital-purpose income

Government funding for an agency to acquire or build capital assets such as buildings, land or equipment.

Carrying value

The original cost of an asset, less the accumulated amount of any depreciation or amortisation, less the accumulated amount of any asset impairment.

Clear audit opinion

A positive written expression provided when the financial report has been prepared, which fairly presents the transactions and balances for the reporting period in keeping with the requirements of the relevant legislation and Australian Accounting Standards. Also referred to as an unqualified audit opinion.

Control environment

Processes within an entity's governance and management structure that provide reasonable assurance about the achievement of an entity's objectives in the reliability of its financial reporting, the effectiveness and efficiency of its operations, and compliance with applicable laws and regulations.

Controlled entities

Those that universities receive benefits from and are able to influence the extent of those benefits through any rights they have to direct the activities of those entities.

Corporations Act 2001

Commonwealth legislation governing corporations, including their financial reporting framework.

Current asset

An asset that will be sold or realised within 12 months of the end of the financial year being reported on, such as term deposits maturing in three months or stock items available for sale.

Current liability

A liability that will be settled within 12 months of the end of the financial year being reported on, such as payment of a creditor for services provided to the entity.


Money owed by one party to another party.


When total expenditure is more than total revenue.

Depreciated replacement cost

Current replacement cost less accumulated depreciation to reflect the economic benefits of the assets that have been consumed.


Systematic allocation of the value of an asset over its expected useful life, recorded as an expense.

Disclaimer of opinion

Statement expressed if the auditor is unable to obtain sufficient appropriate audit evidence on which to base an audit opinion, and the auditor concludes that the possible effects on the financial (or performance) report of undetected misstatements, if any, could be both material and pervasive.

Disclosure error

Error in the financial statements that affect the understanding of the accounts but does not directly impact the income statement and/or balance sheet.


Removing the effect of transactions between entities when preparing consolidated financial statements.

Emphasis of matter

A paragraph included in an audit opinion that refers to a matter appropriately presented or disclosed in the financial report that, in the auditor's judgement, is of such importance that it is fundamental to the users' understanding of that report.


A corporate or unincorporated body that has a public function to exercise on behalf of the state or that is wholly owned by the state, including departments, statutory authorities, statutory corporations and government business enterprises.

Equity or net assets

Residual interest in the assets of an entity after deducting its liabilities.


The outflow of assets or the depletion of assets an entity controls during the financial year, including expenditure and the depreciation of physical assets. An expense can also be the incurrence of liabilities during the financial year, such as increases to a provision.

Fair value

The price that would be received if an asset was sold or the price paid to transfer a liability in an orderly transaction between market participants at the measurement date.

Financial Management Act 1994

Victorian legislation governing public sector entities, as determined by the Assistant Treasurer, including their financial reporting framework.

Financial report

A document reporting the financial outcome and position of an entity for a financial year. It contains an entity's financial statements, including a comprehensive income statement, a balance sheet, a cashflow statement, a comprehensive statement of equity, and notes.

Financial Reporting Directions

Issued by the Assistant Treasurer for entities reporting under the Financial Management Act 1994, with the aim of:

  • achieving consistency and improved disclosure in financial reporting for Victorian public entities by eliminating or reducing divergence in accounting practices
  • prescribing the accounting treatment and disclosure of financial transactions in circumstances where there are choices in accounting treatment, or where existing accounting procurements have no guidance or requirements.
Financial statement error
  • Accounting error that directly affect the values in an entity's income statement and/or balance sheet.
Financial sustainability

An entity's ability to manage financial resources so it can meet its current and future spending commitments, while maintaining assets in the condition required to provide services.

Financial year

A period of 12 months for which a financial report is prepared, which may be a different period to the calendar year.

Going concern

An entity that is expected to be able to pay its debts when they fall due, and continue in operation without any intention or necessity to liquidate or otherwise wind up its operations.


The control arrangements used to administer and monitor an entity's activities to achieve its strategic and operational goals.

Impairment (loss)

The amount by which the value of an entity's asset exceeds its recoverable value.


The inflow of assets or decrease of liabilities during the financial year, including receipt of cash and the reduction of a provision.

Income approach

A valuation technique that converts future amounts, such as cashflows or income and expense, to a single current (discounted) amount. The fair value of those future amounts is measured as the value indicated by current market expectations.

Intangible asset

An identifiable non-financial asset, controlled by an entity, which cannot be physically seen, such as software licences or a patent.

Internal audit

A function of an entity's governance framework that examines and reports to management on the effectiveness of the entity's risk management, internal controls and governance processes.

Internal control

A method of directing, monitoring and measuring an entity's resources and processes to prevent and detect error and fraud.


The expenditure of funds intended to result in medium- to long-term service and/or financial benefits arising from the development and/or use of infrastructure assets by either the public or private sectors.


Weaknesses or other concerns in the governance structure of an entity identified during a financial audit, which are reported to the entity in a management letter.


A present obligation of the entity arising from past events, the settlement of which is expected to result in an outflow of assets from the entity.

Liquidity ratio

A ratio that compares cash and other assets that are expected to convert to cash within 12 months, to liabilities that are payable within 12 months. A value of 1.0 or greater generally indicates that an entity is likely to be able to meet its short-term obligations.

Management letter

A letter the auditor writes to the governing body, the audit committee and the management of an entity outlining issues identified during the financial audit.

Material error or adjustment

An error that may result in the omission or misstatement of information, which could influence the economic decision of users taken on the basis of the financial statements.


Information is material if its omission, misstatement or non-disclosure has the potential to affect the economic decisions of users of the financial report, or the discharge of accountability by management or those charged with governance. The size, value and nature of the information and the circumstances of its omission or misstatement help in deciding how material it is.

Modified opinion

The auditor's expressed qualified opinion, adverse opinion or disclaimer of opinion.

Net result

The value that an entity has earned or lost over the stated period—usually a financial year—calculated by subtracting an entity's total expenses from the total revenue for that period.

Non-current asset

An asset that will be sold or realised later than 12 months after the end of the financial year being reported on, such as investments with a maturity date of two years or physical assets the entity holds for long-term use.

Non-current liability

A liability that will be settled later than 12 months after the end of the financial year being reported on, such as repayments on a five-year loan that are not due in the next 12 months.

Non-reciprocal transaction

A transaction where one party provides a benefit to another party, either in cash, kind or services, and does not directly receive any substantial benefits in return.

Other comprehensive income

Revenues, expenses, gains and losses under Australian Accounting Standards that are excluded from net income on the income statement and are instead listed after net income.

Peppercorn lease

The right to use an asset, usually land or building, which is given for a small token amount.

Physical asset

A non-financial asset that is a tangible item an entity controls, and that will be used by the entity for more than 12 months to generate profit or provide services, such as building, equipment or land.

Present value

A current estimate of the present discounted value of the future net cashflows in the normal course of business.

Qualified audit opinion

An opinion issued when the auditor concludes that an unqualified opinion cannot be expressed because of:

  • disagreement with those charged with governance, or
  • conflict between applicable financial reporting frameworks, or limitation of scope.

A qualified opinion is considered to be unqualified except for the effects of the matter that relates to the qualification.

Relevant measures and indicators

Measures and indicators an entity uses if they have a logical and consistent relationship to its objectives and are linked to the outcomes to be achieved.


The restatement of a value of non-current assets at a particular point in time.


Inflows of funds or other assets or savings in outflows of service potential, or future economic benefits in the form of increases in assets or reductions in liabilities of an entity, other than those relating to contributions by owners, that result in an increase in equity during the reporting period.


The chance of a negative or positive impact on the objectives, outputs or outcomes of an entity.

Special purpose financial report

A financial report prepared under a specific framework that is intended for presentation to a limited group of users and which may not meet general information needs.

Unmodified opinion

The audit opinion that the auditor expresses when concluding that the financial (or performance) report is prepared, in all material respects, in keeping with the applicable reporting framework.

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