BUFDG Digest - 8 May 2024

08 May 2024      Matt Sisson, Projects and Membership Manager


We are delighted that Cathy Burleigh, Chief Financial Officer at Oxford Brookes University, has been appointed as the new Chair of HEPA; Cathy succeeds Andrew Hewett, Chief Financial Officer at Manchester Metropolitan University, in the role.

We are also delighted that there was so much interest in the vacancy for a Deputy Chair of HEPA. Ashley will be contacting members shortly about the next stage in the recruitment process. 

To find out more about who is involved in running and governing BUFDG, and the various regional and working groups, and how it all works, visit the About Us pages on the website.


In what is a slower news week than usual, new research has been published by HEPI, Kaplan, and the NUS that highlights the net economic benefit of the Graduate Route visa scheme. It is a detailed piece of work, that comes to the conclusion that there is a small net benefit to the exchequer of just over £1k per international graduate. It comes at a time when a comprehensive report on the Graduate Route is expected any day now from the Migratory Advisory Committee. There’s an excellent summary of the situation on Research Professional.

The NI executive has agreed its budget for 24-25, which includes £2.87billion for the Department of Education, plus a further £254m in capital funding.

The FT has published an article on the current financial challenges facing the HE sector. It’s not any more enlightening than any of their other previous offerings, but does touch on the graduate visa route, and the growing number of voluntary redundancy schemes. What is always interesting (in small doses) is reading below-the-line, which displays quite clearly the lack of sympathy from the public (or the sub-section that is the FT readership), for the current plight of the sector.

Finally, the ONS has released its 2022 data on Government research and development expenditure. It finds a 10% increase from £14bn to 15.5bn in the last year of figures, with 38% of that total going through UKRI.


To help those using the Cost of Net Zero Calculator, delivery partners Energise we will be hosting another surgery to offer technical support to users on 6 June 2024, 11am-12pm. These sessions are useful for those who have recently downloaded the calculator for the first time, or are actively using it within their organisation and have questions on specific figures or fields, or technical queries that have not been covered in the regularly updated FAQs. To ensure sufficient time to address individual queries numbers will be limited for each surgery, with a waiting list in operation. This event will not be recorded so that attendees can freely share information. Book your place now.

Mills & Reeve have added a recording of a webinar on ‘Higher Education Providers and Market Exit’ to their University Financial Resilience hub, along with other resources.  

UCEA has updated its infographics on the benefits of working in H E due to the increase in TPS employer contributions. The whole set of infographics communicates the often-overlooked excellent benefits and conditions available to sector employees and comparing them to those offered in the wider economy. They also cover health and wellbeing, sick pay and leave, travel schemes, annual leave and flexible working.

KPMG has announced the return of its Higher Education Technical Updates this summer. The next two digital events take place on the 26 June and 9 July. The events provide tax and accounting updates as well as focus on the issues and challenges facing finance teams in the H E sector. For more information and to book, use the links above.

DfE has published a policy overview that explains how the tuition fee limits at college and universities will change once the Lifelong Learning Entitlement (LLE) launches. This includes the cap on the number of credits which providers can charge for, information about the fee limits on course years which have multiple activities, and fee limits for work placements and studying abroad. David Kernohan has an interesting summary on Wonkhe of how the SLC seems to be preparing.


The Financial Reporting Group (FRG) together with the audit firms will be delivering their annual Financial Statements Workshop on-line. This year we are running the same workshop twice (to give you more flexibility to attend - see below for the second date option) which will cover off any updates and what is coming a little further down the line. We will also cover best practice from the Financial Statement reviews too. The workshop will be delivered by FRG and members and audit firm representatives. Among other things, the sessions will cover financial statement disclosures, a range of accounting and audit matters, and preparation for the new SORP. For more information, and to book on to the workshops, click here.

Barnett Waddingham have published the results of their annual survey of pension assumptions adopted by UK HEPs. “While SATs remain the primary focus, in the wider sector ongoing discussions around the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) take precedence - in terms of its valuations and benefit design. New valuations have also been completed for the Teachers’ Pension Scheme (TPS), where costs have increased and Local Government schemes, where costs have fallen.” You can read the launch blurb and download the briefing on the Barnett Waddingham website.

Following the launch of a market study into the market for the assurance of sustainability reporting (sustainability assurance) in March, the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) are hosting two focused roundtables in June (5 June in the morning, and 12 June in the afternoon) as it seeks to understand the functions and development of the sustainability assurance market.  


The Welsh Government has launched a  consultation on a proposal to amend the nation's land transactions tax regime. It includes a proposal to abolish the multiple-dwellings relief - this relief applies where a buyer acquires more than one dwelling from the same seller. If you would like BUFDG to respond to this consultation, please  access this discussion board for further information.

Hevin David MS (and cross-party Chair on universities) has written an article for the Institute of Welsh Affairs, highlighting the broader contribution played by Welsh Universities to the economy and wider society. It concludes, as any round-up seems to at the moment, with the financial challenges facing the sector, but is an excellent summary for use in communications.


Following the laying of secondary legislation last month, the Cabinet Office have confirmed that they are working towards a ‘go-live’ date for the new Public Procurement regime of Monday 28 October 2024.  This date will be formalised in Commencement Regulations which are expected to be made in May 2024, and this announcement marks the beginning of the six month preparation period.

The Cabinet Office has been updating the guidance suite of documents relating to the Procurement Act 2023 over the past few weeks. You can find the complete set of published resources on here. The collection includes guidance on Contracting Authority Definition through to the National Procurement Policy Statement and Thresholds; the guidance will continue to be updated with more documents over the coming months.

In addition, a comprehensive learning & development programme has been launched to help members prepare.  Comprising 10 x 1-hour modules, the e-Learning covers all aspects of the new reforms, such as key regulation changes, transparency and the competitive flexible procedure. A Government Commercial College (GCC) account is required to access the training, which can be found on Transforming Public Procurement area on the GCC website.

You can find out more about the e-Learning programme on HEPA here, and access the e-Learning package on the GCC here. To help with communications we are pleased to say that a flyer is available for you to utilise on noticeboards, internal comms, newsletters and so on.

Finally, a reminder that the Procurement Value Survey (PVS) has been released. The Results Report for the Financial Year 2022/23 shows total impactable spend was £7.8bn, with total gross efficiencies of £326m.  You can download a copy of the PVS here.

For a broader round-up, including forthcoming events, read the latest HEPA Digest.


We’ve finalised (pretty much) the BUFDG 2024 Tax Conference schedule for 11-13 June. Take a look at the sessions on offer on  our booking page. More details on each of the sessions will be available next week.

On the same day that  DSIT confirmed its leadership team to “oversee the department’s work to transform the UK into a science and technology superpower”, Paul Blomfield MP  challenged the Government at the House of Commons on their current migration policies, specifically referencing the difficulties universities face with graduate visas, plus the increase of the income requirement becoming a barrier to required overseas researchers.

Following the welcomed guidance on the income tax and social security implications on UK pension contributions for overseas employees for the ten most common countries in 2023, we have added a new country into the mix. The Ireland Income Tax and Social Security implications of UK pension contributions has been published today.

Some updates from recent meetings: we had an interactive member only discussion on Tax Automation issues (notes  here) and Andrea has prepared a  hints, tips and issues summary from the three April regional tax meetings she attended. She also needs  your input on Capital Goods Scheme calculations and  volunteers for the BUFDG Business/Non-Business guidance.

Coming up in the next two weeks, there’s a  roundtable discussion re Online learning and use of Platforms, plus the latest chance for you to air your IR35 issues at the  monthly employment status surgery. Our friends at Centurion are running a  VAT Higher Education Forum and Croner-i have invited BUFDG members to a discussion on  Companies House Reforms Under ECCTA.

Remember you can always access the latest Tax updates via the new, short ‘Tax Brief’, or the longer TaxHE (‘Tax Leggings?!’) newsletter, available here.


Our Job of the Fortnight is for a Financial Accountant at Abertay University. Reporting to the Head of Finance, the successful candidate will “oversee all Abertay Financial and taxation reporting – specifically Statutory Accounts, HESA, SFC, TRAC, Vat and Corporation reporting… and ensure that all financial transactions behind these returns are accurate”. The deadline for applications is 24 May.

For all other vacancies, please visit the BUFDG jobs page.

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