BUFDG Digest - 14 February 2024

14 February 2024      Joni Rhodes, BUFDG Project Manager


The programme for the 2024 Finance Festival is now complete, with 28 sessions running across 3 days from Monday 11 to Wednesday 13 March 2024. We are looking forward to welcoming more of our membership than ever to this online extravaganza of all things H E finance, and to what we think is the best line-up yet. Each day starts with a plenary, then breaks out into parallel sessions covering a wealth of finance related topics. To help you find the most relevant sessions to you, we have created a handy ‘what should I watch?’ breakdown.  

There really is something for everyone, simply register for the event and attend those sessions of interest to you. Even better, why not book a room, get the biscuits in, and gather your team for a watch party?  



The Office for Students has published a consultation response on the expansion of the student record. The consultation, administered by Jisc, covered plans to include students at franchise partners, a review of Aggregate Offshore records, and the collection of data relating to transnational education (TNE) students in England and Wales. A separate consultation covered different proposals for Scotland and Northern Ireland 

Decisions have been phased to allow for UK-based teaching partnerships to be included in 2025-26 data collections, with further updates on TNE and awarding-only partnerships expected summer 2024.  


HEPI and London Economics have produced a report that explores the differences in higher education fees and funding systems across the UK. It explains the variations in university funding across the home nations and encourages policy makers to build manifestos on evidence-based decisions. HEPI’s Nick Hillman unpicks what this may mean for the next general election.   

The Financial Times has published findings on research into the impact of new rules relating to student loan repayments (£), which were introduced in September 2023, and explores how different funding models affect public finances. The FT reports that the changes disproportionately disadvantage women, that ‘middle earners’ like teachers and nurses will pay a larger share of their income than those on the highest salaries, and that the lowest earners pay more under the new system.  

Jisc has launched a brand-new Digital Transformation consultancy service, providing tailored support at every stage of digital transformation journeys. A reminder for those considering a finance system implementation in H E that our ‘Ahead in the Cloud’ guide draws on the experience, thoughts, and advice of several senior Finance, IT, and transformation leads in a sample of universities around the country and is essential reading.  

Finance systems may be impacted by the Government’s announcement that the implementation of the Lifelong Learning Entitlement (LLE) will result in the creation of a single funding system, with the entire student finance system (including traditional 3-year degrees) planned to be under the LLE from 2025-26.  

The recent evaluation of the LLE trial acknowledged that many institutional processes and systems may not be sufficiently flexible to accommodate new forms of provision which, combined with the relatively low levels of uptake during the trial, suggests more detail is required to understand the impact on the sector.  

Meanwhile, seven years on from the introduction of the apprenticeship levy, Professor Ben Rogers asks whether universities are using their position as major employers to enhance social mobility by deploying the levy effectively.  With public support for spending on apprenticeships remaining high, this report from Workwhile and the University of London makes useful reading for those looking to maximise the impact of the levy.  

In research news, the
Research Excellence Framework deadline has been extended to allow more time for changes regarding People, Culture and Environment, and the Government has responded to the Independent Review of Research Bureaucracy - including a recommendation that Jisc leads on the development of digital platforms to reduce costs and free up researchers 

The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) has published a summary of key findings from research it commissioned into barriers to entry and growth faced by audit firms in the UK. 


Finally, in case you need a reminder it’s not all downside, UCEA have published a suite of infographics highlighting the often-overlooked benefits of working in H E.  



The Scottish Government has published its international education strategy, which focuses on attracting international talent, maximising exports, and delivering world-leading research and innovation. In a separate announcement, £5.8m of capital funds has been allocated to Scotland’s universities for research. This funding has been made available for the 2023-24 financial year following the UK Government’s launch of its Regional Innovation Fund in October 2023. 

The Scottish Funding Council has launched its brand-new website. If you were subscribed to the previous SFC site your account will have been transferred across, but you will need to reset your password on the login page. The SFC have advised they are currently resolving an issue with their new system’s ability to send user email notifications.  

On Thursday 22 February the Institue of Fiscal Studies will host an online event analysing the Scottish budget. This webinar will cover tax and spending in 2024-25, the medium-term funding outlook, health spending, staffing and activity, and higher education funding policy ahead of the final Scottish Parliament vote on the budget.  



The Welsh Government has confirmed that the tuition fee cap will rise from £9,000 to £9,250 from 2024-25, as a result of sustained inflationary pressure on higher education providers.  

This rise will bring the Welsh cap in line with England, Northern Ireland and Scotland. Welsh domiciled students who are studying in England, Northern Ireland or Scotland are already paying this fee level and will therefore see no change. 



Joni has been liaising with the Energy Systems Catapult (ESC) on forthcoming guidance to help those developing decarbonisation projects to effectively pitch and receive support, to ensure the ESC have considered the perspectives of senior decision makers in H E. The findings will be discussed at the Finance Festival in March. 

Karel is in touch with a wide group of representative groups and the Student Loans Company (SLC) about the introduction of the LLE in 2025. There are already some high-level working groups but concerns about the processes, systems, communications, and cash-flow are only just being aired and heard. HESPA members have identified a long list of queries and BUFDG has asked the SLC for a timeline of key actions so that members can plan and systems changes. 

Karel and Joni took part in a virtual round table hosted by Cazenove Capital on 6 February, alongside university staff and investment managers. The purpose of the session was to gather insights for a forthcoming report offering context and practical guidance on Net Zero investments for universities. 

As part of the ongoing work of the Investment Management and Practice working group, we continue to support the climate-related engagement with banks and fund managers at the University of Cambridge. Following a Time to Talk in January, over 50 fellow UK higher education providers have now signed on to a Request for Proposals (RfP) to move cash products towards banks and fund managers that are not financing fossil fuel expansion. We have been advised that the RfP is expected to launch on 15th February.  

Ashley, Joni, Matt, and Karel have been working with Universities UK to assist them in their discussions with central Government over future eligibility criteria for the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme (PSDS), as the current “Contracting Authority” definition under Public Contracts Regulation 2015 is under review. 


A new expenses and benefits benchmarking guide has been produced for members within the BUFDG membership who want to compare or, potentially, align their rates and policies with what is typically provided in the H E sector. You can access the report here. 

HMRC has published a policy paper regarding the extension of VAT energy-saving materials relief, which provides a little bit more information regarding the Energy Saving Materials that were added to the list of zero-rated reliefs on the 1 February 2024.  


The Cabinet Office has launched a series of Transforming Public Procurement Knowledge Drop videos and factsheets designed to provide a high-level overview of the changes to the procurement regulations for those who have regular interactions with procurement and need a material level of understanding of the new legislation. Additionally, a generative AI framework for civil servants has been released that is of potential interest to BUFDG and HEPA members, particularly the section dedicated to 'buying generative AI'.  

The Responsible Procurement Group (RPG) has released its update for the first quarter of 2024, including details of future responsible procurement events, current opportunities and how you can get involved, as well as information about the next steering group meeting.  


A big thank you to all members who have taken the time to respond to our emails about your reasons for not making it to an event as planned. We have now gathered enough responses to help us plan our events better, so you will no longer be receiving these after an event.  

Mercer has provided an updated version of the H E Pension Schemes Funding and Accounting summary table. The table summarises areas such as eligibility, benefits, contributions, accounting and governance etc. so you can clearly see the differences between the various schemes. 

Those running Oracle (and even those that aren’t) might be interested in a webinar from Inoapps on the morning of Wednesday, 28 February, looking at the ‘technical and functional opportunities’ within the Oracle Business Suite (EBS) system. The blurb says, “This isn't just another support extension discussion – it's a deep dive into why now is the opportune moment to maximize the potential of what you already own.” For more information and to register, click here. 

In uncertain times, Higher Education Providers need to be agile and adapt to a rapidly evolving external economic environment. On Thursday, 29 February Lloyds Bank are hosting a Markets Outlook webinar covering economics, interest rate risk, and financing in Higher Education. 



BUFDG's sister organisation CUBO, the membership association for commercial and campus services professionals working in H E and F E institutions, is currently looking for a full-time Communications Officer. The post holder will take charge of the digital content, communications, and marketing campaigns for a wide variety of activities and audiences. This one is closing soon on 19 Feb, tell your friends! 
The University of Liverpool has created a new International Payroll and Advice Manager post. This role leads the International Payroll and Advice Team, as part of the wider Payroll Team. The successful candidate will drive forward the International Payroll service to identify, prioritise and develop the service across all aspects of international payroll, and influence the direction of future international payroll services to ensure that the best possible service to both colleagues and the university is provided whilst remaining cost effective. Closing date 22 February. 

Visit the BUFDG jobs page for all listed vacancies. 


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