20th May 2015

Weekly Digest
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May's Treasury Management newsletter Matt Sisson

The May issue of the Finalysis / BUFDG Treasury Management Newsletter has arrived. Tim Wilding writes:

"This month’s newsletter continues the project finance theme from last month thanks to HSBC and University of Northampton, with the former penning an article on the University's Government covered Bond Issue.  Following hot in the footsteps of S&P, Moody's have also announced changes to bank rating criteria - Tony Assender attempts to see the wood from the trees. Many thanks to Ian Kernohan, Royal London's economist, for his thoughts on the impact of the election result on the UK economy. We also continue the Chinese theme with a very interesting article from peerTransfer on the payment trends of Chinese students."

Click to read all this and more

10 Minutes with... Richard Murphy Emma Keenan

Richard is the Managing Director at The Energy Consortium and has a wealth of experience from both supplier and buyer sides of the energy market and in both the public and private sector. In his 25 years in the energy sector he has worked in many areas including strategy and regulation, purchasing, and management.

To find out what Richard enjoys the most about his role, and what challenges he sees ahead, read the interview here.

Notes of meeting with HMRC re: RDEC Amanda Darley

HMRC have just agreed the note of the meeting held in February regarding Research and Development Expenditure Credits, and this can be found on our website here.

We have also set up a survey to gather information regarding the value of claims submitted, as this information is of interest to other unviersities and will also assist us in meetings with HMRC. We would be grateful if you could respond to the survey which should take 5 minutes of your time and the information will remain confidential.

CCH guide to the VAT healthcare exemption Amanda Darley

CCH has produced a short guide showing how to consider whether the healthcare exemption applies to particular supplies which may be useful to universities making or receiving supplies in the areas of healthcare and medical services, such as activities involving the NHS. It covers the questions of whether the service is provided by a professional enrolled/registered on a relevant statutory register, whether the service is aimed at the protection, maintenance or restoration of the health of the patient, and whether there is a supply of staff or a supply of services. 

Potential impact of new government on HE employment Matt Sisson

UCEA and Eversheds are jointly organising a free webinar for HEIs on the Conservatives’ manifesto commitments and how they could impact on employment related issues at universities. Whilst a clearer picture will emerge after the Queen’s Speech on 27 May (and webinar content will be updated accordingly), they expect the webinar to cover the following areas, all of which will affect HE institutions as employers:

  • EU referendum – how an ‘out vote’ may affect employment law
  • British Bill of Rights to replace the Human Rights Act
  • Trade union ballot law
  • Zero hours contracts
  • Equality – gender pay and disability employment gap
  • Volunteering leave
  • Prevent strategy

The webinar will run from approximately 11.00am - 12.00 noonon Friday 12 June 2015. It is aimed at HR directors, their deputies and other HR professionals, but may also be of interest to others responsible for strategic level staffing issues in institutions.

Places are limited to 100 log-ins, with only one log-in allocated for each UCEA member institution on a first come first served basis, so please coordinate with colleagues to participate. Institutional places by emailing seminars@ucea.ac.uk quoting ‘New Government, new laws’ in the subject line of your email. 

Room at the top - how to redress the gender imbalance Siobhain Clarke

A recent feature article in the Times Higher on the dearth of women at the top in UK HEIs makes interesting reading. Just 20% of vice-chancellors and 30% of pro vice-chancellors and deputy vice-chancellors are female.

Among many interesting points, the article makes the case that universities would greatly benefit from more women in the upper leadership positions. Clearest of all is that "diversity brings benefits to a company’s bottom line. There is evidence that Fortune 500 companies with more female directors outperform those with fewer female board members on a broad range of financial indicators". The article goes on to consider what Universities can do to achieve a better balance and makes a number of suggestions, including providing the right incentives, considering appointing from within, providing appropriate leadership, and management training, coaching, and mentoring.

Women in the UK HE sector are encouraged to get involved with the Leadership Foundation's Aurora Programme for women leaders - you can sign up here to be participant, or become a champion, a mentor, a role model, or be a speaker on the programme itself. 

Evidencing Efficiency Matt Sisson

A few weeks ago we covered the launch of a report by AUDE about the role that university estates have played in driving efficiency. More efficient use of space has led to universities saving £7.2bn over the ten years since 2002/03. The report is accompanied by a number of case studies, and a blog on the efficiency exchange website highlighting six examples of strategies that HEIs are using.

The exchange website has a number of other interesting articles up this week, including one on the ways that framework agreements are delivering efficiencies for Higher Education using helpful case studies. Of particular interest though is the link the new ‘Video’ section, which contains short videos from HE leaders on issues ranging from ‘The value in sharing’, ‘engaging senior leaders’, and why universities need to ‘evidence efficiency’. Well worth a watch.

EY India VAT Roadshow for HEIs cancelled Amanda Darley

Due to lack of uptake (as it was rather short notice), EY's proposed roadshow for HEIs on Indian GST on Thursday (21st May) has been cancelled. However, EY is assisting those who expressed an interest with one to one meetings or phone calls, so if you are interested, please contact Damian Shirley of EY.

Do you know how to mitigate rising energy costs? Matt Sisson

Along with wider sector efforts to improve spending efficiency, mitigating rising energy costs is one way that universities can keep spending down. If universities are to continue to thrive with further expected cuts to come, it’s crucial all stakeholders in an energy budget understand just what drives energy costs and where the opportunities are to control them.

These issues, and more, will be discussed by a range of industry and sector experts at the TEC annual conference on the 17th June. Hosted at the Birmingham Town Hall, this free one day event has workshops, question and answer sessions and helpful presentations looking at current industry issues including:

• The impact of global events and economic outlook on energy prices.

• NEXUS - major changes to the structure, costs and data supporting your gas supplies and how they are billed.

• Energy Market Reform - Expectation VS Reality. An insight into the additional charges now appearing on electricity bills to pay for decarbonisation of UK Electricity Generation.

A selection of afternoon workshops will also be staged at the conference covering a range of topics including how the benefit of using TEC’s frameworks can be monitored and measured, and guidance on approaches to setting and managing your energy budgets. Prominent TEC members will also share their experiences and projects designed to deliver lower energy costs in an ever challenging landscape of rising levies and regulated costs such as distribution charges.

TEC is regarded as one of the UK’s leading proponents and providers of collaborative energy procurement in the public sector. To reserve your FREE place at the TEC Conference click here or alternatively contact Ellie Hudson ellieh@rocket-creative.com for further details or telephone 01604 250 900.

Payroll and Expenses Group Meeting Minutes Siobhain Clarke

The minutes of the National Payroll and Expenses Group meeting in March are available here. The spring round of regional PEG meetings have also now taken place with a range of topics discussed, including:

  • International Tax issues
  • OTS Review of status
  • Impact of proposed USS scheme changes
  • Tax Free Childcare provision
  • Ad hoc overseas payroll provision
  • Travel and subsistence rules

The South West regional PEG group are looking to recruit a new chair so if you or a colleague are interested please contact either Siobhain or Roger Broughton for further information.

Dates for the autumn meetings are being scheduled and will be made available as soon as possible.

Measuring the benefits of business improvement Matt Sisson

Institutions are struggling to evidence the benefits of Business Improvement Projects, according to research carried out by the University of Strathclyde. Analysing the responses to a sector-wide survey, the team found that although 88% of respondents currently identify benefits from BI activity, only 54% of respondents used an established methodology to measure the benefits, and only 47% used the identified benefits to demonstrate project success.

There was also an interesting trend that emerged from a look at the overall project lifecycle. At the project startup stage, more respondents identified benefits than measured them, whereas from the design stage onwards, more measurement took place. It seems to suggest that change projects at universities could more easily demonstrate success if the data evidence benchmarked at the start of the project was more robust. 

ARMA Financial Planning and Reporting video Siobhain Clarke

ARMA, The Association of Research Managers and Administrators have produced a series of online video films to provide a specific and practical understanding of of post-award financial administration processes, within the context of managing a project portfolio.

The package of 4 videos cost £110 for a named account access to the content for one month along with access to activities and worksheets.  

  • Video 1: Post Award Finance (60  minutes)
  • Video 2: Financial Sustainability (36 minutes)
  • Video 3: Planning and Forecasting (65 minutes)
  • Video 4: Risk (40 minutes)

Find further details of each video here. You can watch this trailer to find out more or email Louise Machin.

Job of the Week Matt Sisson

Our Job of the Week is for a Management Accountant at Cardiff University. The deadline for applications is Thursday 4th June. As usual, all the other vacancies are listed on our Jobs page.


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