24th August 2016

Weekly Digest
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Big increases in HE knowledge exchange Matt Sisson

This year’s edition of the annual Higher Education – Business and Community Interaction Survey (HE-BCI) has been published on the HEFCE website. It shows that the sector is succeeding in increasing its Knowledge Exchange activity (up 6% to £4.2bn) with the private, public, and third sectors, and contributing significantly to economic regeneration.

While there were improvements in commercialised research and income from IP, there were also substantial increases in facilities and equipment-related services (up 17.5%), and CPD provision (up 13.3%). The HEFCE news article accompanying the survey notes that “UK performance is world leading. Comparisons demonstrate that the return on investment from commercialisation of research (sale of equity) is higher in the UK than in the USA or Japan and engagement with industry (proportion of research income) is at similar levels either side of the Atlantic.”

Jo Johnson, Universities Minister, made a contribution to the press release, saying “As this report shows, our world leading universities have a clear impact on discovery and driving growth in our economy. And by bringing Innovate UK, Research England and the Research Councils into the single research and innovation funding body we are creating – UK Research and Innovation – we will help strengthen these links further.”

A-level students seeking an edge in the job market Dominic Fryer

Computer science and economics A-levels are being chosen by UK students as they look ahead to their job prospets, whereas foreign language departments are seeing their student numbers fall. 

The FT reports that maths overtook English as the most popular subject in 2013 and 92,000 studied it at A-level this year. Boys continued to outperform girls at the top A* grade with 8.5 per cent achieving this grade compared with 7.7 per cent of girls. However, girls outperformed on A grades, with 25.9 per cent attaining an A compared with 25.8 per cent of boys.

BUFDG & UCEA responses to Off-Payroll Working consultation Amanda Darley

BUFDG and UCEA have both submitted responses to HMRC's consultation on the changes to the responsibilities for employers when engaging 'off-payroll workers' via personal service companies. BUFDG's response can be found here, and UCEA's can be found here. We are still in discussions with HMRC about their proposals and the effect these would have on universities, with another meeting scheduled for this week.

Has the graduate premium held up? Dominic Fryer

The number of graduates has increased substantially over time, but despite this huge increase in the supply of graduates, the graduate wage premium over GCSE holders has remained the same at all ages across birth cohorts.

A new IFS briefing note published last week shows how the historical increase in the graduate proportion did not lower graduates’ relative wages. However, the research also suggests that further expansion of higher education in the future could lower graduates’ relative wages.

The BBC reports that even when student numbers more than doubled between the mid-1980s and the mid-1990s, the wage premium for graduates remained unchanged.

Weathering the Brexit storm - a joint BUFDG/Wonkhe event Matt Sisson

As mentioned in the digest last week, BUFDG are partnering with Wonkhe for an afternoon on Weathering the Brexit Storm: University finances in uncertain times. Coordinated by Wonkhe, the event will bring together a range of voices including sector FDs to discuss borrowing and bonds, funding for teaching and research, investment and risk, and more besides.

The event will be of use to everyone with an interest in the finances of higher education, including: university Finance Directors and their colleagues; professionals working across roles in planning, strategy, communications, external affairs and policy; and private sector staff with an interest in universities.

Join us on 16th September at the Courtauld Institute of Art, London. Click for more information and booking.

Integrated Reporting - a University example Dominic Fryer

In last week’s Digest we mentioned that we’d had lots of constructive feedback on the Integrated Reporting in HE report, and pointed to the IIRC database of examples. Some members were unable to find the University example in the database, so here is a direct link - it was the University of the Free State, with their latest Integrated Report here

Intro to HE Finance - free BUFDG elearning module Dominic Fryer

Are you new to higher education? Or maybe you’ve worked in the sector for some time but have a few gaps in your knowledge? If so this free e-learning module may be just the thing for you.  

Introduction to HE Finance gives an overview of the sector and addresses questions such as:

  • Where does a University’s money come from?
  • How is it spent?
  • What governance arrangements are in place?
  • How do finance teams report on activities?
  • What resources are available to members and how can you find them? 

Read what some of our members are saying:

"As someone who is new to HE, I enjoyed and was grateful for the article. Well done."

"As an introduction, the content was good and plenty of links if I wanted to find further details."

"I thought the module was clear and not too wordy which meant it could be completed at a good pace."

The module is available to members now, click here to find out more.

Job of the Week Hayley Overton

Job of the week is for Financial Controller at Birmingham City University, the successful candidate will 'lead a small team on all aspects of the cluster’s financial planning and reporting, including management accounting and reporting, improving budgetary control systems and processes to meet customer requirements and deliver value for money'. The closing date for applications is Monday 5th September.

Other bits Dominic Fryer

Introduction to Electronics Watch - This free webinar, taking place on October 20th, 11am-12pm, will outline how Electronics Watch supports public buyers to meet their responsibility to protect the labour rights of workers in their global electronics supply chains. For more information and to book your free place please click here.

Something for everyone - tax consultations galoreIf you're finding the summer period a bit quiet and are looking for something to do, then there's plenty for you to consider among the raft of tax-related consultations which have recently been issued by HMRC, the Scottish Government, the EU Commission and the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG).

There are just a handful of places left for the HEPA Conference 2016 which takes place in Glasgow on 8th and 9th September. 



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