04th May 2016

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Why move to a business partner model? Matt Sisson

It wasn’t that long ago, but a lot seems to have happened since the Annual Conference in Lincoln. If over the last two months you’ve forgotten many of the interesting presentations and talking points then we hope that the conference videos can help jog your memory.

Over the next few weeks we’ll be posting summarised videos of four conference sessions via the digest. If you weren’t at the conference, or if you were but you were at alternative sessions, then we hope you’ll find them interesting and insightful. Cut to be between 10 and 20 minutes, you should be able to fit them into your working week, or to be watched with a cup of tea and sandwich during your lunch break.

The first session covers Business Partnering, where Andy Stephens, Director of Finance at Loughborough University talks about how Loughborough has delivered a more effective and robust finance service by moving the department to a Business Partner model. Click here to visit the conference website – the first workshop video is halfway down the page – and learn about the how and why.

HEPA Conference Glasgow, September 2016 Emma Keenan

The 2 day event, starting at 11am on the 8th and ending at 1pm on the 9th, includes an array of speakers from both inside and outside the sector.  Topics include Sustainability, CIPS, Counter Fraud, and Ethical procurement amongst others.  

The price, which includes overnight accommodation, is just £275. Click here to book.

Is it 'boom time' for HE? Matt Sisson

The total income of the HE sector hit £33.2 billion in 14/15, according to the HESA ‘finance plus’ publication released this week. Total expenditure was £31.2bn, with staff costs of 55%. Over £15.5bn came in from tuition fees, a 6% increase, however this was countered by an £800million decrease in funding council grants.

There is an abundance of tables and data on the HESA website, and a short article in the THE that summarises the key figures. Meanwhile a separate, pre-emptive ‘instant insight’ article in the FT from earlier in the week claims that it is “boom time” for the sector, and cites the continued success of UK HE “even in an age where esteem based on traditional prestige is being challenged by massive investment in Asian institutions, and hot competition for courses taught in English”. 

Sutton Trust report on student debt Matt Sisson

The issue of student debt has hit the news this week following the publication of a Sutton Trust report that compared tuition funding arrangements, graduate debt levels, and graduate earnings between the UK, US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Degrees of Debt found that the typical English student faced debts of over £44,000 at graduation, compared to around £21,000 in the US and Australia, and £23,000 in New Zealand. The story has been covered by the Telegraph, the BBC, and the FT, among others.

While the report emphasises the relatively clear and straightforward repayment conditions in the UK compared to other countries, the Sutton Trust’s director Sir Peter Lampl writes in an accompanying blog that he has been “worried about the levels of debt being amassed by British students” for some time. “I backed the increases in tuition fees to £3,000 back in 2004 because I could see that it was necessary to fund universities”, he writes. However he believes that “the coalition’s decision to treble maximum tuition fees for English undergraduates, whilst adding real interest of inflation plus up to 3%, has completely changed the ball game.”

The BBC quotes Alice Barnard, chief executive of the Edge Foundation, who says that the report “makes a persuasive economic case for taking up a higher apprenticeship and studying for a degree sponsored by the employer”. However a BIS spokesman interviewed pointed out that “As the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has recognised, our student funding system is fair and sustainable”.

Developing a Higher Education Global Mobility Framework Agreement Emma Keenan

The NWUPC Global Mobility Working Party is working on behalf of the Higher Education Sector to obtain sustainable value for money in the procurement of services relating to global mobility. The Working Party are looking to develop and deliver focused contracting strategies which meet the demands and expectations of the sector. The BUFDG Tax Group is represented on the NWUPC Working Party creating a framework for procuring advice on the global mobility of staff, a constantly growing area which has been notoriously difficult to deal with (and individual advice expensive to procure) for many years.

Recent years have seen changes to the HE landscape, with the market for HE becoming increasingly competitive globally. As a result, many institutions will be managing staff who spend time working overseas. This can prove to be quite challenging for institutions, as they try to make sense of the complex international tax and regulatory obligations. Quite often responsibility will be split between HR, Payroll and Finance, and guidance may be required as to the issues that need to be addressed.

When an employee spends time working abroad, consideration will need to be given to the tax obligations; failure to do so could result in financial penalties being imposed. Immigration and employment law will also need to be considered and guidance will be required by employees working abroad to ensure they are compliant with the regulations. Equally, the institution will need to ensure anyone travelling to the UK for work abides by the regulations. Failure to address these issues could result in penalties not only for the institution but also the individual involved. Employees expecting to spend an extended period working abroad may also require guidance and support with issues such as relocation, housing, schooling, healthcare etc. Developing a framework that will support Institutions with these issues can help to free resources, promote compliance and reduce costs.

Given that most, if not all, HE Institutions will require Global Mobility services, it makes sense to develop a framework for the sector to use. This would be a new area to the contracting programme, expanding the agreements on offer to consortia members and within the sector. The framework would be awarded to multiple suppliers, providing members with choice and potential savings. Over the past year the NWUPC Global Mobility Working Party has been developing the documentation to ensure it meets the needs of the sector, and it is envisaged that the agreement will be in place by late summer 2016.

For further details, contact Ian Ross, Contracts Director at NWUPC, either by phone on 0161 234 8004 or by email.

Ransoms in HEIs - new longer briefing Matt Sisson

A few weeks ago we added a new document to our Counter-Fraud Toolkit – an introductory note to Ransoms in HEIs, written by Keith Read. Historically, ransom has been most associated with kidnapping and similar activities. However ransoms have become increasingly cyber-related; one variant – ransomware – encrypts victims’ files following an apparently routine and innocuous activity, such as opening an innocent-looking attachment. Cyber-ransoms are not just confined to ransomware; threatening to conduct Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks and data theft are further examples of cyber-extortion.

A number of HE institutions and local authorities have recently been hit by ransomware attacks, and universities are under increasing pressure to prevent and mitigate the risks of cyber-crime. For more information, download the note from the BUFDG website. We also have a longer form of the note, which includes more information for those who need it.

For other information on cyber-crime, as well as other areas of fraud, why not take a look at the rest of the Toolkit here

Gift Aid updates Amanda Darley

There is currently an HM Treasury consultation taking place on donor benefits in relation to Gift Aid, following up from their call for evidence last summer. If you provide donor benefits and wish to comment on the proposals, you can review the consultation here. Please let Amanda know if you have any comments or responses you would like BUFDG to feed back to HMRC.

Also - just a quick reminder that the new gift aid declaration now applies (since 6 April 2016).

New sources of funding - free HEFCE events Matt Sisson

If you want to understand more about potential sources of funding, HEFCE has put together a number of free events in collaboration with UUK and the NHS Confederation. The workshops will look at a range of emerging forms of investment funding relevant to local anchor institutions such as combined/local authorities, universities, and NHS organisations.

The focus will be on various types of bonds, loan funds and integrated funding approaches for strategic infrastructures and sites. As ‘risk-based’ opportunities, they will require local institutions to think and act very differently when compared to traditional grant regimes. Institutions providing the finance will identify the ingredients of a successful application and practical case studies will transfer best practice. The programme will be supported by an online community of practice.

Detailed programmes for all events will be circulated shortly, but for more information and to book, click on the links below.

Making a Success of Bonds, Wednesday 6 July, Leeds University, covering Private, Municipal and Green Investment Bonds

Integrated Finances for Strategic Infrastructures and Sites, Wednesday 7 September, City University, London, covering Enterprise Zones, UK Trade & Investment Regeneration Investment, Tax Increment Financing, Combined Authority Investment Funds, One Public Estate

From Grants to Loans,Wednesday 14 September, Sheffield Hallam University, covering European Investment Bank (including European Fund for Strategic Investments), Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund, Innovate UK loans and Green Investment Bank

HEPA Training Emma Keenan

There are just a few spaces left on some HEPA training courses in the next few weeks:

The first two of our half day Modern Slavery Act events were sold out, the third taking place on 12th May in London has just 4 spaces left.  To reserve your place click here. A fourth event will take place in Edinburgh on 16th June – details will be added to the website shortly.

We have one space left on the Category Management course in Nottingham on 13th June.

Last week we announced a new event, Practical issues arising from the 2015 public contract regulations in Nottingham. 12 spaces are filled already. To book one of the remaining 8 tickets click here.

In addition to our own events, on 4th May between 2pm and 3pm Electronics Watch are running a free webinar detailing how they can help your institution comply with the Modern Slavery Act.  To find out more or register click here. A briefing note outlining the key provisions of the British Government's Guidance and Electronics Watch tools and procedures relating to the Guidance is available for registrants.

In the next few weeks we will be working with our training partners to develop new courses, in response to what you have asked us for. Watch this space and do get in touch if you have any immediate requirements. 

HEPI Annual Conference - the student journey Matt Sisson

Registration is now open for the 2016 HEPI Annual Conference, which takes place at Regent’s University London on Thursday 9th June. The Student Journey: from teenage to middle-age will look at the crucial importance of all the stages of the student experience from admission to graduation and beyond, with a particular focus on what universities can do to ensure good induction, an excellent all-round student experience and effective careers support. It will also consider the other side of the coin: the things that can limit students’ ambitions.

With a Keynote Address by the Minister for Universities and Science, Jo Johnson, the day will include presentations by UCAS, Offa, and Student Minds as well as the launch of the full results of the 2016 HEPI-HEA Student Academic Experience. Click here to book your place, selecting the ‘Additional University Partners’ option, at £168 including VAT.

Awards, awards, awards Matt Sisson

The eagerly awaited shortlist for the annual Times Higher Education Leadership and Management Awards has been announced.  This year a total of 66 universities are represented, an increase from the 57 last year.  Many institutions have been nominated in more than 1 category.  To see the full shortlist and how to book a table to the awards ceremony on 23rd June in London click here.

The Institute for Competition and Procurement Studies (ICPS) is urging those involved in procurement in Wales "to nominate a team or individual who is going that extra mile to make Wales a better place".  To enter, nominate by 13th May in one of ten categories including:  Innovation through Procurement, Corporate Social Responsibility, E procurement, Supplier of the Year and finally Most-progressive public procurement organisation.  The full details can be found here.  

Finally, the Green Gown Awards recognise the exceptional sustainability initiatives being undertaken by universities and colleges. With 16 categories including Best Newcomer, Sustainability reporting and Leadership award there are many opportunities to demonstrate your achievements. The deadline for entries is 8th June.  To find out more just click here

Job of the Week Hayley Overton

Our Job of the Week is for a Group Finance Director  at The Open University.The successful candidate will report to the University Secretary and will also be a member of the Vice-Chancellor’s Executive. They will deliver the financial strategy that underpins the University’s corporate goals and play a key role in commercial activity, new ventures and capital planning. Candidates are also expected to have well-honed advisory and influencing skills and commercial insight. The closing date for this opportunity is Friday 20th May.

If you have a finance job that you would like listing on the BUFDG website, email hayley@phes.ac.uk with the link and I will be happy to add it for you. 


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