16th August 2017
Changes to the MAA between HEFCE and institutions
HEFCE published a revised Memorandum of Assurance and Accountability on the 26th of July, and which became effective from the 1st of August. For those with questions about what this involves, and how it differs to the previous year, a summary of the main changes is provided in a new article on the BUFDG website.
This includes details of the expiration of the current mandatory requirement for HEIs to subscribe to Jisc, the requirement for an HEI to seek approval from HEFCE before entering into financial commitments that would exceed a particular threshold, and an amended definition of ‘connected undertaking’, among other things.
Introduction to TRAC - 8th November
Places for our popular 'Introduction to TRAC' course are available to book now. The course covers:
- The basic concepts of TRAC;
- The TRAC returns;
- TRAC data and how to collect it;
- Working with academic departments;
- Common areas of difficulty; and
- Using TRAC data within the institution
Phase 2 report on Integrated Reporting is published
In case you missed it a couple of weeks ago, we've launched the report of phase 2 of the work done by BUFDG and partners on Integrated Reporting.
In March 2017, BUFDG began this second phase of the project to examine how Higher Education institutions can adopt Integrated Reporting. For phase one, BUFDG used an abridged framework to assess the 2014/15 annual reports of six universities. In phase two, BUFDG and four universities agreed to join the Network, and the Specialist Panel, convened by the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC), reviewed the universities’ 2015/16 annual reports and financial statements. The four universities involved in the second phase were the University of Edinburgh, Bangor University, Newcastle University and the University of Winchester. This report summarises the findings of the panel’s reviews. The universities are all at different stages of their thinking about Integrated reporting, but the lessons learned will be of use to them and other universities, wherever they are on their journey. In the Foreword, Richard Howitt, CEO of the IIRC, writes:
“Together with the BUFDG, we welcome all universities to work with us to ensure all providers of Higher Education are talking about the value they create. The sector is crucial for the UK and the rest of the world, and it’s important for all stakeholders to recognise just how much it contributes to our society”.
You can download the report in full from the BUFDG website.
Cost of Uni in England in the headlines
The cost for students of going to university continue to make the headlines this week, as a new report from the Sutton Trust has found that the number of 11-16 year olds who thought they were likely to go on to Higher Education has continued to decline. The poll of 2,600 young people in academies across England and Wales found that just 74% saw Higher Education in their future, down from a high of 81% in 2013, and 77% last year. Of those young people that thought they were unlikely to go on to HE, 64% cited a financial reason, up from 57% in 2013. There’s a summary article in Public Finance.
In related news, the Universities Minister Jo Johnson used an article in Prospect Magazine to defend the student finance system, calling it ‘fair’ and ‘sustainable’, and saying that it has ‘fulfilled its core aims’. The article comes as A-level results are published and as an announcement from the Department for Education and the SLC confirmed there would be no reversal of the planned increase in interest charges on student loans in England. The interest rate which will increase as planned to 6.1% in the Autumn, to the concern of the IFS.
Obstacles for participation and fair access
In related news, a report from Teach First looks at the social mobility hurdles still faced by those from the poorest areas, and finds that as few as 1 in 20 young people in some areas will go on to Higher Education. The detailed report makes a number of recommendations on both targeting access funding, and in improving retention rates.
The report also corresponds with a major new collection of essays from HEPI, titled “Where next for widening participation and fair access?”, and with a foreword from Les Ebdon. The essays cover a broad range of topics including social capital, contextualised admissions, and personal learning accounts.
Discount on VAT & Property Conference
The Orca Law VAT & Property conference will take place on Tuesday 7 November at County Hall in London. Information about the conference has not yet been released publicly, but BUFDG members can find out more by reading the conference brochure, and Orca Law have kindly also provided a 20% discount code which BUFDG members can use. You can found out more here.
Green Gown Awards and UN sustainable development goals
If you’ve been in the sector a while you will no doubt be aware of the great work that the Green Gown Awards do in promoting sustainability and social good in HE and FE. This year’s awards are seen through the prism of the United Nations’ 17 Global Goals for Sustainable Development, and celebrate the work being done in UK HEIs.
After a tough judging session, the applicants have been whittled down to 113 finalists across 15 categories. These projects range from electric pool cars to music albums dedicated to climate change. They include ambitious zero carbon targets, pioneering new ways to create heat sources from waste and the largest Passivhaus building in the UK. The finalists represent nearly 1.5 million students and just under a quarter of a million members of staff.
The winners will be announced at the prestigious Green Gown Awards Ceremony held at The Monastery, Manchester on 15 November. You can book tickets via the link.
Extra 1,500 undergraduate medical places to go ahead
The government has published a response to its consultation on adding another 1,500 undergraduate medical places by 2020. An initial 500 places have now been allocated by HEFCE to existing providers for 18/19, but the announcement this week confirms that the method for the competitive allocation of the remaining 1,000 will be set out by HEFCE later in 2017.
Advice Specifically for Procurement on the new Data Protection Regulations
The new General Data Protection Regulation comes into force on May 25th 2018, but due to there being significant changes from the existing law (the Data Protection Act), we need to start thinking about how it it affects contracts now. HEPA asked legal firm Clyde and Co to write a short guide for us detailing the things procurement professionals need to consider to comply and to minimise risk. You can read that important article here. Should you have any queries please do contact Emma.
Job(s) of the Week
HEFCE has three vacancies that it’s looking to fill this week. First up is for a Senior Assurance Adviser, who “will work with colleagues to deliver the core assurance activities that protect the student and public interest and provide assurance to the HEFCE Executive and Board”. Hopeful applicants “should have a degree and be qualified as an accountant or auditor with a minimum of three years’ experience”.
The funding council is also looking for a normal Assurance Adviser who, as well as being at least a part-qualified accountant, should have “confident communication and interpersonal skills” and should “enjoy building relationships and enjoy working with others”. The deadline for the first role is the 29th August, and for the latter it’s the 3rd September. Both roles are based in Bristol.
There are lots of other vacancies listed as usual on the BUFDG jobs page.