BUFDG Digest - 24 April 2024

24 April 2024      Joni Rhodes, BUFDG Project Manager


The Office for Students (OfS) has issued a call for evidence on their approach to public grant funding to help consider how they distribute approximately £1.5 billion of public grant funding each year through the Strategic Priorities Grant. They are particularly keen for input on general policy aims, what activities should be supported, how courses deemed strategically important should be determined, and the most effective uses of the OfS’s funding. In a blog on the OfS website, John Blake, OfS Director of Fair Access and Participation, sets out the purpose of the call for evidence. He points out that the OfS must take into account government guidance regarding priorities for the funding that OfS distributes, and that sometimes (like this year) this may be terms and conditions which ‘are stronger than guidance’. The OfS would like to know “what else we need to take into account when weighing up government guidance, and what we need to know to ensure that we are providing government with accurate, constructive and timely advice on what this money is being spent on, and how the process works for making decisions and ensuring accountability”, and as part of this they “want to understand the thinking of universities and colleges about current and future funding approaches, so we can weigh this up as we consider how our principles and processes for the application of the OfS’s funding powers might potentially develop”. 

A number of BUFDG member CFOs and FDs attended Universities UK’s round table meeting on 17 April to discuss the call for evidence, and BUFDG will be feeding into UUK’s response to this call, which closes on Thursday 23 May 2024. 


The Department for Education (DfE) have confirmed that the Lifelong Learning Entitlement will cover courses starting in January 2026, ahead of the first full academic cycle commencing September 2026. This phased, and delayed, approach has been adopted to give the Student Loans Company and providers more preparation to adapt their systems ahead of the launch.  

For those who were unable to attend our recent Time to Talk about the LLE funding system with Paul Smith, Head of Partner Services at the Student Loans Company, slides are availableNotes and Q&A from the session will be uploaded shortly, once reviewed and completed by the SLC.

HEPI has published How Should Undergraduate Degrees be Funded?, a collection of essays exploring a range of potential funding models for undergraduate education. The report features proposed funding models and from student leaders, leaders of higher education and two former Ministers for Universities, and is underpinned by economic impact analysis by London Economics and UCAS student polling.   

A House of Commons Committee report has found that providers may be incentivised to increase student numbers through franchising to remain financially viable, which creates risks for students and taxpayers where student loans are issued to those studying at franchised higher education providers. 

Universities UK has released research demonstrating the benefits of university for those students who are the first in their family to attend, and the financial challenges they face to get there.  

Wonkhe heard from the incoming chair of AUDE, Syd Cottle (Director of Estates and Infrastructure at the University of Liverpool), about what is keeping estates directors up at night. HEPI asked the same question of academic leaders and funders across the globe and found some reasons to be cheerful.  

UCEA has updated the pension specific infographics highlighting the benefits of working in Higher Education (H E) to reflect the new employer contribution rates for TPS in England and Wales. Meanwhile, the joint H E trade union claim has been submitted 

Just days after Wonkhe’s Anne Marie Graham set out what a sustainable international student policy could look like, the UK Government rejected talks with the EU on an agreement to facilitate youth mobility but has confirmed agreements with individual member states would be considered. The European Commission's approach aimed to restore some of the exchange lost after Brexit and had the potential to see EU citizens pay the equivalent of domestic tuition fees (£). A survey by the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services has found that ongoing changes and uncertainty around visa requirements is causing concern among employers and international students and impacting recruitment and sponsorship.  

If you find playing with difficult numbers fun, you may enjoy the Be the Chancellor tool released by the Institute for Fiscal Studies. We would love to hear from anyone who thinks they have cracked it!  

Finally, Wonkhe and the University of London have confirmed the dates for the next Festival of Higher Education 2024, which will be returning to London’s iconic Senate House on 12-13 November. Early bird tickets available now 



The Scottish Funding Council (SFC) announced indicative funding allocations for 2024–25, following a challenging funding settlement. The university resource budget has been reduced by £28.5m, a 3.6% reduction on the previous year, and will see a cut in 1,200 student places. Research and innovation funding and capital funding has increased, allocations for widening access and disabled students has been frozen, and funding to mitigate the cost of increases to the Scottish Teachers’ Superannuation Scheme has been removed.  

Information has been released on the Knowledge Exchange and Innovation Fund that will replace the University Innovation Fund from the 2024-25 academic year. Guidance on the development of institution’s 5-year Knowledge Exchange and Innovation strategies will be published in June 2024. 

The SFC also published a briefing providing information about the development of Scotland’s Tertiary Quality Enhancement Framework (TQEF), which is being implemented across HE and FE from 24/25, along with the university intake targets for initial teacher education in 2024–25.  

From 6 April 2024, there are six rates and bands of Scottish income tax that apply to the non-savings and non-dividend income of Scottish taxpayers. The Low Incomes Tax Reform Group sets out the changes and what this means for Scottish taxpayers. 


Universities Wales has published a briefing on the impact of UK immigration policy on Welsh universities. Alongside REF, workforce, and recruitment implications, the report states that the £38,700 salary thresholds on the Skilled Worker Route is hugely prohibitive and will have a disproportionate impact in Wales, where the average graduate starting salary is £25,000. 


The 2024 BUFDG Tax Conference line up has been announced, with 26 sessions confirmed so far (3 to finalise) covering a broad range of taxes, from 13 different advisers, with the majority presenting alongside university peers. You can book your place here. 

Recent resources added to the BUFDG website include HMRC’s slides on Introduction of a UK Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism,  and the recording and slides from the Payroll & Employment tax Group’s quarterly update. 

On the discussion boards Andrea highlighted various HMRC relating to importing and exporting, and Julia shared a 25% discount code for Rebecca Seeley Harris’ new book explaining CEST.   

A reminder that you can sign up to receive detailed fortnightly TaxHE updates in your preferences. The most recent edition of TaxHE coincided with the return from the Easter break and the new tax year, giving Julia and Andrea the pleasure of wading through over 200 emails from HMRC so you don’t have to! For those seeking an overview, our brand-new Tax Brief may be the preferred read.  


The Procurement Value Survey (PVS) Results Report for the Financial Year 2022/23 has been released and is available to download. A total of 74 responses were received from members across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The total impactable spend was £7.8bn, with total gross efficiencies of £326m. 

We are delighted to announce that Cathy Burleigh, Chief Financial Officer at Oxford Brookes University, has been appointed as the new Chair of HEPA; Cathy succeeds Andrew Hewett, Chief Financial Officer at Manchester Metropolitan University, in the role. 

HEPA now has a vacancy on the Board for a Deputy Chair. The role should be held by a respected procurement professional with knowledge and experience of the issues affecting the sector; the term of office is 2 years. Further information, including how to nominate yourself or a peer, is available here. The closing date for applications is 3 May 2024. 

A comprehensive learning & development programme has been launched to help procurement practitioners prepare for the Procurement Act 2023, which will come into force in October 2024. Comprising 10 x 1-hour modules, the e-Learning covers all aspects of the new reforms, such as key regulation changes, transparency and the competitive flexible procedure. A Government Commercial College (GCC) account is required to access the training, which can be found on Transforming Public Procurement (TPP) area on the GCC website. 

Last, but by no means least, the Cabinet Office have announced that following the laying of secondary legislation last month, they are working towards a ‘go-live’ date for the new regime of Monday 28 October 2024. This announcement marks the beginning of the six month preparation period for Contracting Authorities.  


Following consultation with BUFDG members, and an informative session at this year’s Finance Festival, the Energy Systems Catapult have released their ‘How to effectively make the case for decarbonisation projects to decision makers’ guide. One of nine guides helping public sector organisations develop net zero strategies, it explores ways that cases for decarbonisation projects can be effectively presented to senior decision makers to increase the likelihood of obtaining sign-off. 

TRAC 2024 

Save the date for the 2024 TRAC Conference, which will be taking place on Tuesday 24 and Wednesday 25 September (timings to be confirmed). Bookings will open soon.  


Harper Adams University has created a new Procurement Manager role. The successful candidate will work directly for the Chief Financial Officer and play a crucial role in managing the procurement process, ensuring cost-effective purchasing, and maintaining strong vendor relationships. The closing date is 6 May 2024. 

There are lots of other job vacancies listed on the BUFDG Jobs page. 

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