22nd April 2015
Conference Video and Presentations
Last week's Annual Conference was a great success, with Sarah Randall-Paley and her conference team inviting delegates to the fantastic surroundings of Lancaster University. The presentations, programme and the highlights video are now on the website. The photos are also available to have a look at on the BUFDG flickr page. To watch the video and more, visit the 2015 conference page.
April's Treasury Management newsletter
The April issue of the Finalysis / BUFDG Treasury Management Newsletter has arrived. Tim Wilding writes:
“A slightly shorter newsletter this month, due to the impact of the Easter break and the BUFDG conference. It was good to catch up with so many clients at Lancaster and to meet those of you new to the sector. We must say thanks for the many positive comments received for the newsletter, even from one or two that have never opened it - yes, Big Brother is watching you!”
“For the project finance article this month, we are indebted to Keith Norman of Lloyds for his thoughts on the more traditional funding by bank debt. Tony Assender comments on the expected bank credit rating changes following the recent Rating Agency announcements. For those looking beyond term deposits and Fund Managers, we have an article on Structured Notes from the Charity Investment Team at Barclays. Following on from the January article on the Chinese Renminbi and following a client request, HSBC have kindly provided information on banking in China for our currency article. Finally, the Card Acquiring update covers the purchase of Realex Payments, the most popular Payments Service Provider in the sector, by Global Payments. Last month's average wages Mystery Chart proved too hard for you all, so there's a much easier one for you this time”.
To sign up to receive the newsletter directly to your inbox, use the sign up link at the bottom of the page.
Eligible Body Status and Alternative Providers of Education
EY will be speaking at the 2015 BUFDG Tax Conference (book your place here - places are selling extremely fast!) about Alternative Providers and Partners in Higher Education. Related to this, they have also produced two articles for BUFDG - one on Alternative Providers and some of the risks to be aware of when planning and operating such partnerships, and one on Eligible Body status in the context of what qualifies as a college of a university - Does a subsidiary company qualify? Is HMRC's guidance on the issue fit for purpose? Find out more.
Limited Places Available - Training on Changes to EU Regulations
A last few places are still available on a number of sector-run training courses on the changes to EU Regs. The courses are designed to help Heads of Procurement and Senior Procurement Managers understand the finer points, and how these will impact on the procurement environment. Details of training, provided by HEPA and the purchasing consortia, are below:
Hosted by LUPC on 12th May, at London, Senate House. Costs £160 plus VAT, and provided by Debbie Metcalfe, Achilles. Click to book
Hosted by HEPA on 14th May, in Reading. Costs £160 (no VAT), and provided by Glenn Fletcher, Hellios. Click to book
The recent event held in Exeter by Glenn Fletcher received excellent reviews with comments such as:
“Good overview with useful insights and advice”
“Glen is an excellent trainer”
“The presenter had excellent knowledge and experience and interacted well”
“Full panoply of PCR requirements and actions”
HMRC Penalties Consultation
Last call for any issues, concerns or responses you would like BUFDG to put forward to HMRC on your behalf in relation to the tax penalties system. HMRC's consultation closes on 11 May, and you can either provide the answers directly to TAP@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk by 11 May, or email Amanda with your responses to the questions by 30 April. HMRC has issued a discussion document and a news article about the consultation.
How secure is your data? And are you aware of the risks?
The issue of data security in universities has hit the news a number of times in the last few months. There is increasing awareness of the challenges that universities face, but where there are gaps in knowledge, the sector is working hard to address them. To that end, UCISA has recently produced an Information Security Management Toolkit.
The Toolkit outlines an approach to successfully implementing an ISM strategy. It is intended as a practical resource, providing an overview of the key aspects of a successful ISMS. It also includes case studies, as well as templates and example resources which organisations can tailor to suit their needs. There's further information on the UCISA website.
New Jisc Chair
Professor David Maguire, vice-chancellor at the University of Greenwich, has been appointed as the new chair of Jisc, formally known as the Joint Information Systems Committee.
Professor Maguire follows in the footsteps of Professor Martin Hall and, before that, Professor Tim O’Shea. He will “play a key part in shaping the organisation’s future strategic planning and will oversee its charitable objectives”, according to the Jisc announcement.
To read the full announcement, please see the Jisc website.
US 1098-T forms
US students (or their parents) can sometimes claim tax credits for eligible tuition fees by using a form 1098-T issued by an 'eligible educational institution' certified by the US Department of Education.
There appears to be some conflicting advice in the sector regarding whether a UK university can be an 'eligible educational institution' or whether it should issue substitute forms instead - some think that UK universities cannot be eligible educational institutions and have to issue substitute forms, while others think only actual 1098-T forms should be issued or nothing at all. The discrepancy has been highlighted by a substitute form issued by a UK university being rejected by the Internal Revenue Service in the US.
There's a discussion about this on the Tax discussion board - Have you encountered a similar problem? Do you issue 'substitute' forms? Or are you treated as an 'eligible educational institution' in the US? Perhaps you can add to the discussion to help resolve this issue.
HEPI’s 2015 Election Briefing
In the run up to 7th May, the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) is running a live election briefing, looking at six higher education issues against the backdrop of the forthcoming 2015 general election and the post-election spending review. It refers to significant outstanding questions that policymakers should be addressing.
HEPI is also running an interesting policy ‘Wall of Shame’ post, which is being updated as new information comes in from the various party manifestos. You will no doubt have different views on the various policies, but it certainly makes for interesting reading.
Also noted in this ‘Wall of Shame’ post is some research undertaken by Loughborough University which shows that “higher education has so far made up just 0.3% of general election policy discussions.”
Conservatives would establish OTS permanently
The Office of Tax Simplification was established in 2010 to review specific areas of tax and advise on improvements and simplifications to the system, and BUFDG has fed into the work of OTS on a number of occasions. The Conservatives have now included a pledge to establish OTS on a permanent basis and 'expand its role and capacity' as part of their election manifesto. Depending on the outcome of the election, and on what other parties might pledge, it will be interesting to see what John Whiting, Director of OTS, has to say about this expanded role when he speaks at the BUFDG tax conference in June.
Universities must rid their reputation as ‘wasteful’ organisations
The higher education sector must “work hard during this election period to dispel the idea that universities are wasteful and inefficient”, according to a Universities UK blog post by Professor Nick Petford, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Northampton.
Professor Petford describes the way universities have succeeded in continuing to make surpluses against the odds, but notes that this competence, during a time when many in the public sector were facing cuts, has given a false impression that the sector is "ripe for cuts".
“The sector is becoming ever more market-driven and customer centric. Fees won’t increase, leading to real term reductions in funding. Demand will become increasingly unpredictable. Removing the student number cap will increase competition. We are a sector defined by high fixed costs. And there is increasing international competition”, he says.
The blog goes on to note the importance of Sir Ian Diamond’s work on efficiency and effectiveness, saying that “year on year, savings have been found.” To read the full article, go to the Universties UK blog.
In the run up to the general election on 7th May, you may be interested in reading about what each party has in store for the sector. To save some time clicking separately into each party's manifesto, here is a handy document with higher education related extracts from each major party's manifesto. HEFCW has also produced a similar handy guide for the parties' policies in Wales. Click to take a look.
The next North of England Deputy Finance Directors meeting takes place on Thursday 18th June at the University of Liverpool. Booking details and an outline agenda can be found here.
The shortlist for the Times Higher Education Leadership and Management Awards (THELMAs) has been announced on the THE website. The awards recognise the teams and individuals “with exceptional knowledge, nous and ability who make realities of strategic ambitions and deliver what staff and students need”. Full details of the categories and nominations can be found on the THE website. The winners will be announced on Thursday 18 June at a ceremony at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London.
Universities could be at risk from computer malware hidden within fake invoices, which could then be used to steal banking details, according to Financial Fraud Action UK. There has been a surge of this type of fraud in recent weeks, where users unwittingly activate the code thinking they are opening an invoice. Please double-check the email address of the sender before opening any invoices you are unsure about.
A reminder that the next meeting of the London and South East Universities Tax Group will take place on Thursday 21st May at Imperial College, London. Coffee from 10am for a 10.30am start. The meeting should draw to a close around 3.30pm. Bookings can be made here. Please forward any agenda items to Chris Bridgeman.