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The role of fraud awareness in promoting anti-fraud culture to prevent occupational fraud within a professional services department at a higher education institution.

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Occupational fraud remains an increasing global concern across various sectors. The higher education sector is no exception. However, the focus of academic literature has been more on academic related fraud, such as dishonesty and cheating during examinations or research-related fraud. Hence, there has been limited focus on occupational fraud from a support or administrative sector at universities despite instances of occupational fraud being widely reported on in the media. This study contributed to addressing this gap by determining the role of fraud awareness in promoting anti-fraud culture to prevent occupational fraud within an administrative department at a South African university. This descriptive study was undertaken in the context of the Student Academic Administration department, a professional services department at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. The objectives were to establish existing occupational fraud risks, determine the level of employee awareness relating to existing occupational fraud risks, find ways of promoting fraud awareness to prevent occupational fraud and to determine how increased fraud awareness can play a role in preventing occupational fraud and build an anti-fraud culture with the department. The study drew on two applicable theoretical constructs being the fraud triangle theory (1953) and organisational culture model (1985). A census approach was used whereby all 29 employees within the department were selected as the target census population. A quantitative approach was adopted and a questionnaire was distributed to the targeted census population. Data analysis included reliability analysis and descriptive statistics. The study confirmed the existence of potential occupational fraud risks within the department. The most common being bribery of staff. Findings also confirmed the value of increased fraud awareness in promoting an anti-fraud culture and preventing occupational fraud. Moreover, this study provides support for the application of both theories in preventing occupational fraud and promoting an anti-fraud culture. The study concluded by putting forth recommendations to benefit the department through measures to increase fraud awareness, encourage employee involvement in fraud prevention and promote an anti-fraud culture. In addition, directions for further related studies are provided.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.