21st June 2017

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The saddest news Karel Thomas

It is with great sadness that I tell you that one of our treasured colleagues and team mates in the PHES office, Hayley, passed away last Tuesday, 13th June. She was admitted to hospital on 23rd May and despite many tests and investigations, treatment for a number of problems was unsuccessful. 
This has come as a huge shock to all of us in the PHES team. Hayley was a cherished colleague and friend. Her endless positivity and beautiful smile lit up our office. Any member who spoke to Hayley, or met her at an event would have been struck by her warmth and willingness to help and we will miss her immensely. It is too soon to say how we will fill the gap she has left and in the short/medium term our small team will support each other to pick up the pieces. We are incredibly lucky to work in a collegial and familial atmosphere and to have the support and understanding of members. 

The BUFDG team - taken at the Bath annual conference 2017 (from left to right): Gill, Jen, Amanda, Emma, Rachel, Karel, Matt, Dom and Hayley.

Government plans Matt Sisson

Today is the delayed Queen’s speech, where the government proposes the outline of its legislative programme for the parliament. With the loss of its majority, and a deal with the DUP still to be reached, the government is in a vulnerable position. This will be reflected in the programme, with many of the more contentious elements of the Conservative manifesto set to be absent. There’s talk that the PM will step back from the commitment to reduce annual migration to the ‘Tens of Thousands’, which would be good news for Universities, but other than that, HE-specific plans are likely to be thin on the ground. Navigating Brexit becomes the government’s overwhelming priority.

The BBC has laid out what it thinks will be in the speech and, as usual with these things, there are running updates on the BBC and Guardian websites

New BUFDG Employment Taxes Specialist & HMT Expenses Evidence Amanda Darley

We were delighted to introduce colleagues who attended the Tax Conference to our new Employment Taxes Specialist, Mike Edwards. Mike advised clients on employment tax issues for 27 years with PwC and has joined us to support members when they encounter issues on employment taxes, expenses and other payroll matters. Mike will be working three days a week and will be based at home, near Newport - if you have any employment tax issues that BUFDG can help you with, you can contact Mike by email: mike@bufdg.ac.uk. Mike will initially be working on a one-year contract so we can assess how much assistance members require in this area.

One of Mike's first tasks will be to put together a response to HM Treasury's call for evidence in relation to employee expenses - if you have any views on this or examples to contribute, please get in touch with Mike by 30 June.

Keep an eye on LEO Matt Sisson

One of the biggest sector stories for a while, the Longitudinal Education Outcomes dataset (LEO) was published for the first time by the Department for Education last week. With the election and Brexit stealing the major headlines, the importance of the data has slipped under the radar somewhat, but it is likely that the growing dataset and its analysis will play a significant role in shaping HE and wider economic policy in the coming years.

When the idea of linking educational outcomes directly with HMRC earnings data was first mooted back in the early days of the coalition government, the fear was that it would be used to challenge the ‘universal’ nature of Higher Education, reinforcing the new market model by measuring success in purely economic terms – placing greater value on the courses and institutions that facilitate students on their way into higher-paid jobs. It is likely this will still happen to some degree, and Andrew McGettigan’s article in Wonkhe about the implications for the Creative Arts is important reading.

However it is also now apparent that some trends revealed in the LEO data – the decade-long squeeze on graduate pay in particular – serve as strong evidence in support of the recent push, led by the Labour party, to eliminate tuition fees or otherwise remodel sector funding. There’s more on the political implications of the data on the Wonkhe website, but this is where the impact of the data goes beyond just HE, and taps into continued pessimism about social mobility, as outlined in a new government study.

One of the other big fears about LEO data is the potential to use it to create (yet another) league table. This hasn’t yet materialised, due to the data not being released by institution. This is a relief for now, but it’s probably only a matter of time…

GDPR is coming – are you ready? Emma Keenan

The new General Data Protection Regulation comes into force on 25th May 2018.  It replaces and extends the responsibilities of the existing UK Data Protection Act and will bring the UK in line with the rest of Europe.  There are some quite big changes to the legislation which will affect any of your suppliers handing personal data of any kind.  The fine for not complying is up to €20m, a massive increase on the current £500k that can currently be enforced in the UK. 

We will be working very closely with other groups in the sector to bring you as much information on this as possible over the next few months, however to start with, please see here an informative article from the Association of Heads of University Administraton which sets out the requirements well. If this is an area you feel you would benefit in some training please contact me

Consultation on Welsh sector changes Matt Sisson

HEFCW will be replaced with a new body known as the Tertiary Education and Research Commission for Wales, which will cover all post-compulsory education, training and research. The change was announced by the Welsh government this week, and is accompanied by a detailed consultation document, available from the government website.

In the foreword to the consultation, Kirsty Williams, the cabinet secretary for education, called on the sectors to “work together to shape a system where institutions of all types are encouraged to co-operate to meet learners’ needs, enable progression and build strong links with business, so that skills gaps can be addressed.” She also made a separate case for the changes in an article on Wonkhe. The BBC covered the announcement here

Tax Conference Round-up Amanda Darley

Our initial round-up of the 2017 Tax Conference is now available here, with thanks to members of the Tax Group and Payroll & Expenses Group for contributing content.

Progress on latest <IR> project Matt Sisson

Last year, BUFDG reviewed the annual reports of seven universities to understand how well they adopted some of the principles of IR, and the review helped inform universities’ most recent publications. We’ve continued the work this year, and have partnered with the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC) to review the 15/16 annual reports and financial statements of four willing volunteer HEIs. The aim is to highlight where they’ve made progress and to encourage others to adopt the IR framework.

The project is progressing well, with the financial statements currently under review. The report will then be written up and the published before the end of July so that it can be useful to HEIs doing their 2016/17 annual reports. If you have any questions about the project, or IR in general, you can find more on the IIRC website, or drop Matt an email and he’ll forward on your query if he can’t answer it himself.

In sort-of-related news, the Scottish Funding Council has published its Accounts Direction guidance for Scottish Universities for 16/17 accounts. There will be few surprises for Scottish FDs, although it is worth noting the proposed submission date for 17/18 being brought forward to the start of December, subject to consultation. 

Regional meetings - last chance to book summer meetings Karel Thomas

The next London and SE regional meeting will be held at Birkbeck next Wednesday, 28th June. If you haven't registered, but want to join us, please follow this link and make your booking before the end of today as Keith Willett needs to know how many cakes to bake.

As well as the usual updates, we are looking forward to hearing from Baroness Alison Wolf, Sir Roy Griffiths Professor of Public Sector Management at King’s College London. As many of you know, Alison sits as a cross-bench peer in the House of Lords and was very involved in the debates on the HE Bill. She has also written about women in the workplace and the gender pay gap in her latest book, the XX Factor: How Working Women are Creating a New Society and is the author of the 2011 Wolf Report – A review of vocational education. She made the case for an Apprenticeship Levy in a report for the Social Market Foundation in 2015 and is guaranteed to give us some food for thought. 

The South West meeting will be held on Friday 7th July at the University of Brighton and also has a packed agenda of topical issues. We will also enjoy a working dinner on the 6th July, preceded by a visit to the i360, so book as soon as possible please.

All regional meeting dates are on the BUFDG website and if you have not confirmed your attendance at the autumn meetings, now's the perfect time to do it. 2018 dates will be up there soon. 

Off and on again Matt Sisson

Amid the post-election uncertainty, the Year Two results for the TEF, originally due last Wednesday and for which many institutional marketing teams were bracing themselves, had been postponed. However it has been announced that the public announcement is rescheduled for this Thursday (tomorrow), with providers receiving their embargoed results today. All the information is on the HEFCE website, here

If you'd like a quick brush-up on any aspect of the TEF, we can highly recommend Wonkhe's Beginner's Guide

Job of the Week Matt Sisson

Our Job of the Week for this week is for a Senior Manager – Finance at the University of Nottingham. “The focus for this role is to manage student finance processes including the charging of tuition, accommodation, and other fees, as well as processes related to payment receipting, debt management, refunds, accounting, and reporting”. The deadline for applications is the 27th June. Click here for other HE finance vacancies.