18th January 2017

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English 17/18 tuition fee clarifications Matt Sisson

A number of institutions have raised questions about the maximum fee cap for undergraduate courses in English HEIs starting in the 17/18 academic year, and the eligibility to charge the new inflated maximum of £9,250. In particular, there were concerns that the slow progress of the HE Bill, and uncertainty about the resulting TEF mechanism, has muddied the waters.

The legislation to raise the limit in line with inflation was spread across three Acts that were actually passed at the end of last year, and came into force on the 6th January. These covered the basic fee rate, the higher amount, and the responsibility for calculating inflation. The cumulative effect of all three is handily covered in an explanatory memorandum.

In summary, an English institution is allowed to charge £9,250 for undergraduate courses starting in the 17/18 academic year if it has an access agreement approved by OFFA, and also fulfils the requirements for participation in Years 1 and 2 of the TEF. The list of OFFA agreements is here, and details of TEF requirements are in Annex A of the Success as a Knowledge Economy white paper. The broad net cast for the first two years of the TEF (until a finalised HE Bill provides clarity of the differentiating factors) would put most, if not all, HE institutions reading this BUFDG missive in the higher bracket. However please check the linked requirements above to make sure.

Before you get your calculators out, you might want to take a look at the helpful Wonkhe article published in December, which projects the real and cash value of fees for 2016-21 based on HEI position in the TEF and forecast inflation. As you’ll see from the table, the TEF results don’t roll through into fee differentiation (between Gold, Silver, and Bronze) until 2019. Of course you’ll have to make your own assessment about how RPIX will respond to the Brexit chatter. Or just take it from the OBR.

And finally, if you’re in planning mode and need to know more about the likely TEF outcomes, and where your institution might find itself following its first journey through The Incredible Machine, then do get in touch with your Planning colleagues. The HESPA website is accessible to most HEI staff with a BUFDG login. And Wonkhe’s Fun with Flags feature is also a helpful tour guide. 

Adecco Update: VAT on agency staff Amanda Darley

The decision in the Adecco Upper Tribunal hearing regarding VAT charged on agency staff, which was heard at the beginning of December, is expected in March. Deloitte who have worked with Adecco on the case, as well as helping a number of other charities, including several universities, to prepare similar claims, have provided an update on the case for Charity Tax Group members. For a reminder of the issues see this article here, and you can also access a summary of the First-tier Tribunal decision from Deloitte.

BUFDG Tax Courses in March Amanda Darley

We will open bookings tomorrow (Thursday 19 January) for Martin Scammell's VAT & Property courses for BUFDG members. Martin will be running an Introduction to VAT & Property on Thursday 9 March and an Update on VAT & Property on Friday 10 March at Burleigh Court in Loughborough. Please note that for the Introduction course you will need a good working knowledge of VAT concepts such as VAT recovery concepts and non-business activity, and for the Update course you will need to have a good working knowledge of VAT and Property (and possibly have attended one of Martin's Introduction courses). The courses will cost £350 for each day, or £625 for both days. However, Martin is offering the Update course to subscribers of his online service, VAT on Construction, Land and Property, free of charge. If you are a subscriber, contact Gill who will give you a booking code to book onto Day 2 for free (let her know if you wish to attend both days or just Day 2). If you're not yet a subscriber but would like to make use of the excellent 50% BUFDG discount for Martin's online book and take up this offer then please find details here. (Please note the offer of attending Day 2 for free is only available for paying subscribers, not those on the free trial). More details of the courses, including how to book, can be found here on Thursday 19 January.

We're also running Corporation Tax - What you need to know in London on Thursday 2 March. Of course we all know (or think we do) that  'universities don’t pay corporation tax' – however, that isn’t quite the full picture. In fact universities are charities, and they benefit from very specific (and very generous) corporation tax reliefs. This means that all universities need to manage their corporation tax position, and most need to submit a corporation tax return. This practical one day course, run by Harriet Latham of the Open University, is suitable for VAT specialists who also cover corporation taxes; those with corporation tax experience but want to improve their skills; or accountants who are responsible for some or all taxes in their universities. The course costs £250 and more details, including how to book, can be found here.

And we're also running our Introduction to VAT in HE course on Thursday 30 March in London. The course will be run by BUFDG's very own Amanda Darley and the University of Worcester's Tax and Insurance Manager, Andrea Marshall, who will introduce you to the strange and complex world of VAT in HE. They will explain some basic concepts, illustrate some of the situations peculiar to the HE sector, and highlight the areas of difficulty where you may need to take additional advice. The course is aimed at VAT Managers and other finance professionals who are responsible for completing the University's VAT return and/or working with professional advisors on university projects. Anyone new to the HE sector and working on VAT issues would benefit. The course costs £250 and more details, including how to book, can be found here (there are only a few places remaining).

January's Treasury Management newsletter Matt Sisson

The Treasury Management newsletter is back for the New Year (albeit sent out with ‘November’ in the heading by accident…). Tim writes:

“This month we welcome new Head of Education at Western Union Business Solutions, Dino Leo, who has penned his thoughts on the euro v Sterling and what Universities should consider doing to hedge themselves.  Many of you will have invested with Royal London over the years. We have an article from Phil Clifford, Cash Considerations, that explains the thinking behind Royal London's switch from Segregated Funds to Pooled Funds.  

An email from Chris Kavenagh of Goldman Sachs landed in my inbox on Friday; it contained a brief synopsis of the 2017 Outlook for the world economy. Thanks to Chris for allowing use of this - the full report can be found by following the link. Those of you involved with income teams and credit/debit card receipts will be aware of 'Peer to Peer Encryption' or P2PE as we like to call it.  We have an article from James Frost, Chief Marketing and Commercial Officer at Worldpay, the first of achieve 'Certification' for their solution.”

Click to read all this and more.

Pop Up Blockers Dominic Fryer

At the beginning of January we introduced some enhancements to the website, one of which was to add a security certificate. This changes the beginning of the website address from http:// to https:// .

We are noticing that some internet browsers treat this as a brand new website when it comes to blocking pop ups, so you may find that when you are trying to download a document, it doesn't appear to work.

If this happens, you should keep an eye out for an alert in your browser (sometimes a 'cross' in the top-right corner) and then add us to the list of allowed websites.

International student demand modelling Matt Sisson

The future of international student demand at UK universities is a mixed picture, according to the latest modelling from the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) and Kaplan International. The report, called The determinants of international demand for UK higher education, sees some changes, such as higher fees for international students, hit demand, whilst others, such as a likely hit to the value of the pound following Brexit, could increase it. Undertaken by London Economics, the research finds that the first year following Brexit could even see an increase of over £200million in fee income for the sector. 

It's a fascinating report, and well worth a read for anyone involved in planning and forecasting. The report is covered in summary articles in both the Guardian and Public Finance

Collective impact Matt Sisson

Most people who work in universities have an understanding of the fantastic work that their institutions do – in contributing to the lives of its students, the local community, and the wider economy. While the result of all the little conversations with friends about the work that we do and the benefit of the university sector will undoubtedly make a positive impact when taken together, it also can’t hurt to take a more deliberate and collaborative approach, especially considering the current external challenges.

On that note, Universities UK is planning a week of communications activity, primarily around social media, from 23rd-27th January. Each day in the week will cover a different ‘impact’ that the sector has on the UK, and UUK would like as many people as possible to join in. The topics are:

  • Monday 23rd: The impact of international students and staff
  • Tuesday 24th: The impact of universities on the local community
  • Wednesday 25th: The impact of going to university
  • Thursday 26th: The impact of university research
  • Friday 27th: The impact of universities on the economy

UUK is asking everyone to consider using social media platforms to promote their institution’s impact on any/all of the five themes, remembering to use the hashtag #UniversityImpact.This could just be a single tweet, or direct contact with a high-profile individual who you may know – whether academics, alumni, local politicians or partners, or others – or asking your university department or team to get involved.

In addition to your own posts and tweets, please feel free to tweet or retweet the UUK ‘impact’ infographics. UUK has compiled a set of infographics which you can download to use for each theme (there’s also an existing video on the impact of universities across all areas). Please contact Ian Morton (020 7419 5424) at UUK if you have any queries.

KPMG seminars on off payroll workers and salary sacrifice changes Amanda Darley

The employment taxes team at KPMG is hosting a series of half day workshops regarding the new off payroll workers rules and changes to salary sacrifice, aimed at procurement, finance, HR and payroll staff in higher education.  The workshops will take place on various dates around the country and more details can be found in KPMG's flyer, including links to email KPMG to request to attend the workshops.

Fantastic commodity price risks and how to manage them Emma Keenan

CIPS and Mintec are running a free-to-attend webinar on inflationary and other post-Brexit pressures on commodity prices. It's aimed at finance and procurement managers, and will include information on commodity and currency market reviews as well as a case study - helping attendees understand where the risks are and how to manage them. The event takes place on Tuesday 21st February at 11am for one hour. You can book your place here. Those who are not members of CIPS are still welcome to attend.

Job of the Week Matt Sisson

Our Job of the Week is for a Financial Accountant at the University of York. The successful candidate "will report to the Financial Accountant & Compliance Officer and will line manage two accounts assistants". The will also "be heavily involved in the production of monthly and annual accounts for the University which entails close liaison with many parts of the University as well as both internal and external auditors", and "manage the University risk management processes". The deadline for applications is the 27th January.

As usual there are lots of other vacancies listed on the BUFDG Jobs page


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