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20th June 2018

Weekly Digest
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Accounts Direction - VC pay is kind of a big deal... Matt Sisson

The OfS has published its guidance for English HEIs on preparing and publishing financial statements this week. The directions are generally concise, although the casual, or even cynical, observer could not be blamed for wondering why 1,300 words are used to request the disclosure for Senior Staff Pay, less than half that for disclosures about all other management and governance, and just 130 words for the publishing of audited financial statements...

Confusion and concerns from the initial announcement that the OfS had unexpectedly reduced the maximum pay ratio between the earnings of the institutional head and the organisation’s median salary have since been allayed following a correction. The launch page now reads:

“This document was amended on 19 June 2018 to correct an error in paragraphs 15.d.ii and 42.d.ii. In both cases, the threshold for the head of the provider’s total remuneration should be 8.1 times, not 7.5 times, the median total remuneration of staff.”

It’s likely there will be more on this in coming week.

VAT on building work costs for SU buildings Amanda Darley

Not long before tragedy struck the Glasgow School of Art's Mackintosh Building yet again, they had suffered a blow in the tax tribunal, in relation to the recovery of VAT on the construction of a new Student Union building. Martin Scammell has the lowdown on the current position on VAT on SU buildings for us in this article.

UUK sheds light on a key issue in the VfM debate Matt Sisson

Over the last few week’s we’ve covered the steady stream of publications and commentary on the HE Value for Money debate, with recent contributions from the Lords and the Department for Education particular highlights. This week Universities UK has joined in, with a publication that, while not explicitly about VfM, explores student knowledge of the English HE financial system and their expectations of fees and support.

It helpfully confirms what BUFDG has regularly mentioned, that one of the biggest issues in the debate is the lack of understanding, among students and their parents, of how the system actually works. As the press release says, “many students are not aware that the graduate contributions system differs to conventional 'debt'. Focus groups found that students were not always aware, for example, that the amount graduates pay back each month for their student loan depends on what they earn, not on how much is borrowed.”

UUK concludes that the misunderstanding “risks putting people off due to unfounded concerns around costs and 'debt', and recommends "that the government works in partnership with schools, universities and campaign groups to simplify the information on fees and loans and to ensure it is accessible to all prospective students.” Helpfully, “today's call is backed by Martin Lewis, founder of and head of the Independent Taskforce on Student Finance Information 2011-2013.” Universities could do worse than putting this link to a brilliant page on MSE in big letters on the front page of their own websites.

Additional EY NMW session in Exeter Amanda Darley

Having provided several sessions on the National Minimum Wage for BUFDG members, EY will be providing one further session at the University of Exeter on 11 July. This is not a BUFDG event but has been organised by the University itself, so if you would like to attend, please contact Roger Bennett at the University of Exeter directly and he can let you know if there is still space.

Finance and funding - Proceed with Caution Matt Sisson

We're pleased to be partnering with the team at Wonkhe, and our PHES colleagues at HESPA, on a HE finance and funding-specific event at the Royal College of Physicians, in London, on Tuesday 3rd July. The day will debate the focus of the current review of HE funding and what that means for our institutions, as well as the direction of travel of higher education funding, the political context, the balance of taxpayer and student contribution, how we talk about value for money, and how all this may impact on your institution’s core mission.

The event is for senior staff in HE providers; heads of administration; governors/trustees; staff working in planning, legal, finance, governance, policy, communications; students’ unions; sector agencies and government departments; other organisations working in higher education.

Also, as a bit of a 2 for 1, all delegates are invited to join the Wonkhe team directly after the conference for the annual garden party, bringing the HE community together to enjoy drinks, conversation and (hopefully) the July sun in the beautiful garden of the Royal College of Physicians.

All BUFDG members are eligible for the Wonkhe partner rate, so please do select that cheaper option when you click to book.

New HE Risk Network available across the PHES family Matt Sisson

Some of you may already be aware but there is a budding HE Risk network which, as part of the PHES family, BUFDG is helping to get off the ground. Risk is an interesting area in that it cuts across many (if not all) of the different university professional services, and risk is managed in different ways in different institutions.

The Risk Network is formally part of HESPA (the Higher Education Strategic Planners Association), with a web page on the HESPA website which links to useful resources, and a brand spanking new discussion board. It means that, if you’d like to be part of the Risk group and access the boards then you’ll need access to the HESPA website. Fortunately most BUFDG institutions are members of HESPA, so all you need to do is drop an email, and we can quickly tweak your account so you can also log in to the HESPA site using your normal BUFDG/PHES email address and password. Happy risk managing!

CIPS/Hays Procurement Salary Guide and Insights 2018 - Live Webinar Emma Keenan

CIPS and Hays Recruitment have jointly carried a survey for four years in a row now, with the intention of promoting the profession and inspiring the best talent to choose procurement and supply chain management as a career. The resulting report of this year's survey benchmarks salaries, bonuses and benefits for different roles in different regions and sectors, and highlights the perceived value of the profession up to Board level, as well as providing insight to the career aspirations of professionals.

The results are fascinating, exploring in depth, the appreciated value of procurement and supply chain management. I attended a face-to-face presentation of the report, which was really interesting, and I encourage you to register on this live webinar. The event will take place on 21st June at 1pm. 

Refurbing any buildings soon? Matt Sisson

Last week we mentioned TEC’s forthcoming seminars on Managing your Energy Risk, which include a section on ‘What works best’ in the HE sector. I’ve no idea whether these sessions mention the London Energy Efficiency Fund for institutions within the GLA area but the framework is worth familiarizing yourself with if you are planning any building refurbishments, or other low carbon/energy efficiency projects in the capital.

If you are outside of London then all is not lost, as the Re:Fit framework is available in all areas, offering guaranteed returns in energy savings for the payback period of the project, helping to remove the risk of failure, and protecting the initial investment.

Job of the Week Jemma Ladkin

This week’s job is for Head of student finance and student funding at the University of Warwick. The University "is looking for a qualified accountant with significant post qualification experience in strategic financial management, credit control and system and policy development". 

The sucessdful candidate "Will lead the Student Finance and Student Funding Teams with circa 25 staff, having responsibility for collecting student related income in excess of £300m pa", and will "work with senior stakeholders to develop policy and strategy across Student Finance, Student Funding and PGR Training Grants”. The deadline for applications is the 1st July.

There are lots of other vacancies listed as usual on the BUFDG website.


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