BUFDG Digest 2 August

02 August 2023      Matt Sisson, Projects and Membership Manager


Part of our role at BUFDG is helping others gain a better understanding of university finances. Sometimes we produce resources ourselves, which includes our range of publicly-available guides, covering general finance as well as more specific areas like pensions and tax. Most of the time though we lean heavily on the work done by other organisations. Last week the Institute for Fiscal Studies, of which BUFDG is a corporate member, published an excellent explainer on Student Loans in England, and what they see as the main options for reform. If you’ve not read this yet, we strongly recommend booking 30-minutes into your diary and getting up to speed. And it’s also probably worth bookmarking for future reference!

In other sector news, USS has published a briefing paper on the plan for the 2023 valuation, James Coe at Wonkhe talks about Research England’s latest budget, and the FT talks about concern that frozen fee levels mean that home students are being squeezed out at Russell Group institutions in place of higher-fee paying international ones.


In case you missed it from last week, AUDE (the Association of Higher Education Directors of Estates), BUFDG and the EAUC (the Alliance for Sustainability Leadership in Education) have launched a new Cost of Net Zero Calculator tool for the sector. As many institutions are yet to set out costed and scheduled plans to decarbonise their operations, the new calculator aims to give a standard means of answering the question: “What is achieving a net zero carbon state going to cost?”

The tool, delivered by sustainability consultancy Energise, and with additional funding from the Department for Education, arrives with an accompanying report, called ‘The Cost of Net Zero’ and aims to help everyone in the sector understand the context, the scale, and the nature of the task. It follows the January publication of the ‘Accelerating towards net zero’ report from the same partnership group led by the Royal Anniversary Trust, and shares methodology with the earlier report.

In total there are four documents available for use by the sector: The report 'The Cost of Net Zero';  The tool (in an Excel spreadsheet form) - 'Cost of Net Zero Calculator'; A worked example of the calculator in an HE setting, and; A worked example of the calculator in a FE setting. While this tool is a starting point, and will be improved in ongoing iterations, it will provide clear information that organisations need to adopt a long-term investment approach and arrange sustainable and reliable funding. Working with stakeholders including the Department for Education and devolved governments to unlock investment from the widest possible range of sources is one of the desired outcomes of this project.

Read this article for the full information, to download the resources, and to access the webinars. You can also access this and all Sustainability and ESG content on the BUFDG website in the new sustainability knowledge hub area.


Just a quick note for those who were wondering - there are no changes planned to the Model Financial Statements for this year. This means that the most up-to-date MFS are those published in July last year

As a general round-up, the updated USS modeller for 2023 is now available from the BUFDG website, with the discount rate guidance available from mid-August. HEFCW has received its remit letter from the Welsh Government, has published funding circulars for PGT bursary and employability support, and has updated its accounts direction for 22/23 here. The OfS has also confirmed that there will not be an updated Accounts Direction for England for the July 2023 Year End. Read this discussion board post for the statement in full, which includes an additional reference to universities with students being taught by delivery partners. The latest Accounts Direction for Scotland has been updated on the SFC website.


We just missed it in the last Digest, but TDG has released the TRAC Guidance (v2.8) for reporting on 2022-23. The changes to the TRAC guidance are summarised in the Change Log in the Annex, which also includes the notification advised at the last TDG meeting regarding the removal of the TRAC(T) requirements from the TRAC guidance. The deadline for the Annual TRAC return for 2022-23 is noon on 31 January 2024.

The OfS notice confirming deadlines for 2023-24 data returns, including the Annual TRAC return was issued on 6 July 2023 Deadlines and requirements for 2023-24 data returns - Office for Students. For institution in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, information on reporting requirements and deadlines is communicated by SFC, HEFWC and the Department for the Economy (Northern Ireland) respectively.

All this, and other TRAC news, is contained in the most recent TDG bulletin published recently on the TRAC website.


We have covered the long-running UKCA episode over previous years. Yesterday, the Department for Business and Trade announced an indefinite extension to the use of CE marking for businesses.

Members can review the latest Transforming Public Procurement programme timeline on this Discussion Board thread. This is a draft timeline as at 31 July 2023, and members are asked not to share the content outside of HEPA & BUFDG.

Thank you to all members who attended the HEPA round-table discussion on moving to virtual p-cards. A copy of Ash’s notes form the session can be downloaded here.

Sector supply chain GHG emissions reporting is available to procurement teams via the reporting section of this website. The reporting covers supply chain and supplier scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions reports. All member institutions of APUC, NEUPC, NWUPC and LUPC who submit their basic spend data can access this reporting. If the Heads of Procurement from an institution from one of those consortia do not have their login details to hand, they can request that these are re-issued by contacting the APUC eSolutions Helpdesk. SUPC members receive a separate report direct from SUPC to their Head of Procurement. If there are any issues with this, they should contact the SUPC helpdesk who will be able to assist. 

Crown Commercial Service (CCS) has published its Annual Report and Accounts for 2022/23. You can read the report here. The report shows total spend of £30 billion across the entire public sector, including Higher Education, and the achievement of £3 billion in benefits.


BUFDG and Grant Thornton have collated the following Transfer Pricing resources for members. Businesses within the group revenue brackets of >€50m (and 250 employees) and <€750m may need to maintain transfer pricing records. Grant Thornton has prepared this introductory checklist to help determine what you need to do. Businesses with a turnover in excess of €750m may need to maintain more detailed records for the financial year starting after 1 April 2023.  If you fall into this category this advanced checklist will help determine what you need to do.  If you do not have much experience of transfer pricing issues, we suggest that you work through the introductory checklist first.

In addition, GT ran two Time to Talk sessions for us at the end of 2022. You can find the introductory session here and the advanced session here.  If you do not have much experience of transfer pricing issues, we suggest that you watch both sessions. Please contact Andrea if you require further information.  Kirsty Rockall and Louise Gannon from Grant Thornton can also provide further help.

Following our article last week, we have now delivered five Time to Talk sessions on the PAYE Settlement Agreement process. The sessions were recorded and you can watch/re-watch those and take a look at the slides in the links in this article. Thank you to all those who attended.

In the last Digest we announced that the BUFDG PSA Guide is ready to read. We hope that the guidance proves useful to you as you tackle the PSA reporting over the next month but we also hope that you will feedback on areas we haven’t included or need more information on. Our aim is to keep updating the guidance with practical and technical feedback from our members to make it as useful and relevant as possible. So please do feedback with your suggestions and questions.

The Department for Business and Trade has issued more updates to their overseas business risk reports (adding to those announced in our previous edition) for an additional range of countries, including China and Nigera. Here is the list and the links.


Did you know that BUFDG has a LinkedIn page? We use it to keep in touch with colleagues from across the sector, post blogs from the team, and link to interesting things that we read elsewhere. If you’re on the network, please do feel free to look us up and hit the ‘+follow’ button!

PHES has set up a new Discussion Board for those in professional services who are new to Higher Education. Feel free to ask questions of colleagues there.

Last week we were pleased to host Dan King [Director of Planning & Organisational Performance] and David Reddaway [Director of FP&A] from the University of Surrey, to share how the university makes use of its Sempre planning platform to streamline its Institutional Planning processes, mitigate future risk(s), and make real time strategic decisions. It was very insightful, and the recording is available below. For more information about the session, contact Matt.

We are delighted to be joined by KPMG Forensic specialists for a Time to Talk webinar on 17th August where we will explore the recent changes to the fraud regulatory environment and provide some thoughts on what members need to do differently to demonstrate they have adequate procedures in place to prevent and respond to fraud. Click here to find out more about what the session will cover, and to book on.

In case you missed it last time around, Paul Hamilton, Partner and Head of HE at Barnett Waddingham has written a blog post on the BUFDG website about why Conditional Indexing (CI) is not the solution for USS. If you’d like to write a blog for the website, get in touch with Matt.

Finally, our Job of the Fortnight is for a Director of Finance at the University of Central Lancashire. The holder of the post “leads a team who oversee the University’s financial management functions, evaluating performance and managing risk”. The successful candidate will provide “strategic direction and leadership to the Financial Services Team ensuring the delivery of professional, high quality services and support to internal and external customers.” The deadline for applications is 18th August. Other vacancies can be found as usual on the BUFDG jobs page.

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