BUFDG Digest 16 August

16 August 2023      Amanda Darley, Head of Operations and Engagement


Summer is a great time to consider your training and development needs, so why not book onto some of our events and training for September and beyond? In the last Digest until mid-September (due to summer holidays) we’ve got a bumper issue today setting out some of the training and events we’re hosting across a wide range of finance topics.

We are delighted that Lloyds Bank will be presenting two 45-minute webinars for BUFDG members focused on organisational purpose. The aim of the sessions is to share Lloyds’ experience and hear from the BUFDG community on your own journeys to become more purpose led organisations. The first webinar on 15 September will cover 'Leading with Purpose' where senior colleagues from Lloyds will share the journey Lloyds has undertaken so far to create a purpose-led organisation, supported by five key values that drive decision making, and how culture is central to driving this change. The second session on 22 September will focus on 'Creating an Inclusive Society' - a conversation around how Inclusivity is being built into the DNA at Lloyds, focusing on how Lloyds is promoting social mobility and equal opportunity within the bank and how they are now using their influence and presence across the UK to support societal change. These sessions are free, and you can book using the links in this article.

Improving your communication and business writing skills can dramatically increase your impact, and we’re hosting two half-day online courses to help with this – there is the ‘Business Writing: how to increase your impact with less effort course on 15 September’, and the ‘Communication Styles’ course on 21 September. Each course costs £250 (+ VAT) and you can find out more and book using these links.

The annual TRAC conference will take place online on 26 and 27 September, with a mix of plenary and breakout sessions, a thorough overview on the work of the TDG and their activities, and of course the latest guidance on TRAC. Places cost £75 (+VAT).

And there’s also a Time to Talk session from Evergreen Capital on flexible funding solutions for cashflow headaches on 26 September, looking at how Evergreen can help meet the mounting liquidity challenges faced by HEPs.


The SFC is offering Scottish universities the opportunity to apply for a programme of low interest loans totalling up to £26 million is being made available to universities for the current financial year. The programme is designed to advance Scottish universities’ carbon management and net zero plans and to be consistent with the pathways to net zero set out by the Scottish Government. Expressions of interest are being invited from 11 September 2023 until 3 November 2023 after which proposals will be assessed and a selection made by the end of the year.

We’d like to tell you about two webinars in September relating to sustainability:

Following the launch of the Cost of Net Zero report and calculator in July, we have a Time to Talk session on 28 September focusing on the financial aspects of the cost of net zero calculator tool which will feature a demonstration of the calculator from delivery partner Energise, along with Q&A. The Cost of Net Zero report estimated the cost for the HE and FE sectors to reach Net Zero will total £43.8 bn, with £37.1 bn attributed to HE. The report, delivered by Energise for BUFDG, AUDE and EAUC, was launched alongside the calculator tool designed to help institutions project their spend and emissions at a strategic level and provide an estimate of what it will cost to achieve Net Zero goals within a certain timeframe.

EAUC is hosting a webinar on 20 September looking at a new tool developed between Nottingham Trent University and Net Positive Futures which helps to calculate Scope 3 emissions from suppliers.


Just a quick update on the USS discount rate guidance – this should be published tomorrow (Thursday 17 August) and will be available on our website, with the link also posted in this discussion.          


On the theme of upcoming events and training, Julia and Andrea are planning a whole host of events for 2023/24, including almost 30 Time to Talk sessions covering a range of topics from tax treaties, immigration updates, and national minimum wage, to the NHS contracted out services rules, tax strategy, import issues and many more.

The next Payroll and Employment tax Group meetings will take place in person across the country in the first two weeks of October, kindly hosted by BDO. Dates are just being finalised, so keep an eye out for these and get ready for some face-to-face networking!

Monthly surgeries will be held for payroll and employment tax and for employment status discussions. There will also be Global Mobility roundtable meetings hosted by Vialto around the country in November, and the autumn regional tax group meetings to be held online (other than the Northern group who will be meeting in person).

Find out more about all these, and more tax and payroll events here.

In other tax/payroll news, BUFDG will be responding to a consultation on the expansion of tax exemptions for occupational health related benefits-in-kind on behalf of the HE sector. To do this, we need your feedback and have created a survey for you to complete to help us. Having this information will significantly improve our consultation response.

And speaking of tax surveys, we are currently running a very short survey to benchmark salaries for tax related roles in universities/HEPs, and you may have received a link to the survey. If not, or if you’ve mislaid the link, and you work fully or partially in a tax role, you can respond to the survey here (it’s very short!). Responses are anonymous and the resulting benchmarking information will be available via the BUFDG website. The survey closes on 31 August.


Sticking with the events theme for our HEPA/procurement members, as well as the EAUC webinar on the NTU scope 3 emissions tool mentioned above, the UKUPC conference is also coming up in September – in just three weeks in fact! The conference will take place at the University of Exeter from 6-7 September, and you can buy in-person tickets until this Friday (18 August), and you can now purchase virtual tickets too. There’s also a webinar from Crown Commercial Services on 5 October looking at how a number of their agreements can help you reach your net zero goals, and discussing some best practice and the steps suppliers are taking to help customers reach net zero.

It must be summer survey season as we’ve got procurement surveys too. We’re asking HEPA members to provide information on purchasing cards via this survey (open until early September), and Crown Commercial Services is currently surveying procurement staff in order to help them improve their services and deliver better social outcomes – find out more here.


The 2023 National Student Survey results were published by the OfS last week, but with the changes to the questions it’s difficult to make year-on-year comparisons. Nonetheless, Wonkhe has commentary on the results, and on what universities are doing with them.

Mark Smith (VC, Southampton) calls for all ‘the different players across the system’ to look for and take opportunities to improve the financial sustainability of research in the HE sector in a recent Wonkhe article about the increasing precariousness of cross-subsidies. BUFDG is also involved in the Financial Sustainability of Research Group (FSRG), an advisory group mentioned in the article, so if you have any ideas or feedback for this group on what could help achieve a more resilient research funding model, please get in touch with Joni.

Universities are in the mainstream press for the wrong reasons, with the BBC reporting that UCU has announced more strike days in September and an extension of the marking and assessment boycott, which UCEA describes as ‘extremely disappointing’, while it awaits a response from UCU and all the unions to UCEA’s recent proposals for an independent review of sector finances, followed by further talks on important pay related matters raised by the unions.

Student accommodation issues appear more acute than ever with a PwC report (in partnership with StudentCrowd) into Student Accommodation: Availability and rental growth trends predicting problems in several towns, and the FT quoting real estates adviser CBRE as predicting that the UK’s 30 largest university towns face a shortage of 350,000 beds this coming academic year. This is an inconsistent picture with some towns not facing issues, and others facing severe shortages. The PwC report also concludes that universities subsidising affordable accommodation options will not be sustainable against a background of already strained finances, that there will be increased pressure on borrowing and prioritisation of capital, and that there is a mixed picture in securing nomination agreements which can be challenging for some universities in the current market. Whilst the report acknowledges there are ‘no easy or fast fixes’ due to the ‘complex nature of the dynamics’, it does suggest some key opportunities that universities could explore, including: universities working together and with local authorities (such as the Nottingham Student Living Strategy); universities partnering with the private sector, to create a balanced mix of stock; and reimagining the HMO market if there is an opportunity for universities or the private sector to consolidate HMO properties into a portfolio offering economies of scale. Wonkhe’s Jim Dickinson looks at both reports, and is clearly worried about the ‘housing crisis coming that nobody seems to be able to grip’.


The job of the fortnight is the Chief Financial Officer for City, University of London. The University has a new ‘Vision and Strategy’ which reaffirms its ambition as the leading university for business, practice, and the professions. The CFO will be key to the successful delivery of this strategy and to providing a financially sustainable institution, whilst leading a team to deliver excellent financial services. They will be part of the University’s Professional Services Leadership Group, reporting to the Chief Operating Officer and working closely with the President and with colleagues across professional services and the Schools. The closing date for applications is 25 August.

You can also find lots of other HE finance vacancies on our Jobs page.

So, that’s it from the BUFDG Digest until mid-September!

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