BUFDG Digest 13 September

12 September 2023      Matt Sisson, Projects and Membership Manager


The Finance Festival is BUFDG’s 3-day online extravaganza of all things HE Finance. We’re pleased to confirm that the 2024 event will take place from Monday 11th to Wednesday 13th March, so save the date for you and your teams! If you need a reminder of how good last year’s event was, as well as some excellent free CPD, take a look at the recordings and slides from 2023.

We’ll shortly be putting a call out for sessions. We’d like to have more sessions in 2024 presented by university staff, so please have a think about whether there’s knowledge you can share or a story you can tell that would be of benefit to colleagues. And we also need a few members to help be part of the group that selects the sessions. It’s only a couple of hours in total so, if you can help, please get in touch with Matt.



Last week we published the September (2023 Q3) edition of our Chair’s Quarterly, a longer-form newsletter for members and sector supporters. In the first article of this edition, Mary White brings us up to speed with current issues and challenges. Remember that all the latest resources are available from the Financial Reporting pages on the website. Then, Amanda talks about the challenges of BUFDG finding the balance of online and face-to-face courses and encourages members to ‘get back in the water’ for some forthcoming events. Joni talks about the sector’s new Cost of Net-Zero calculator, and BUFDG’s September webinar on how to make use of it. Finally, Andrea and Julia preview the plethora of employment and other taxes events for this. If you have any questions or comments about the Quarterly, drop Matt an email



Feel free to start the new academic year by reading the brave Wonkhe editorial on all the things that are definitely going to happen in the sector over the next ten months or so. We promise to revisit this in May…

The big news is the announcement that the government has agreed with the EU to rejoin the Horizon research programme, prompting a big sigh of relief from the sector. Most will be abreast of the news by now, but there is insightful coverage from HEPI, in the FT, and in Wonkhe.

The bigger news (arguably) is that the House of Lords Industry and Regulators Committee has published findings from its inquiry into the work of the OfS. It's a long report worth reading. One of the many recommendations is "The Government should review how higher education is funded. In doing so, it must provide sufficient clarity for institutions to plan for the long-term and set sustainable funding and delivery models for the higher education sector. This review should take into account the planned changes to the student finance model under the Lifelong Learning Entitlement." 

The Treasury has confirmed that the Autumn Budget will be held on 22nd November. We’ll be watching and will cover the implications for HE, particularly where it comes to Tax and Employment issues.

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) is developing a draft environmental sustainability concordat that aims to set out a series of commitments for all signatories, which includes UKRI. Members can view and download the Draft Concordat for the Environmental Sustainability of RI Practice here. Feedback is invited, but the deadline is tomorrow (Thursday 14 September).

In case you missed it last time out, London Economics has published research on the impact of the HE sector on the UK economy – the headline is it contributes over £130 billion. Here’s the UUK summary.

At the end of August the Russell Group published a report on sustainable business models for research intensive universities. There’s also a summary write-up on HEPI.

Finally, there’s news that the artist formerly known as Newman University will now be called Birmingham Newman University, to ‘better reflect its second city heritage’.


This is our last reminder that there are still a few tickets available for the 2023 TRAC Conference, which takes place online on the 26 -27 September. Tickets cost £75, but having the opportunity to gain a thorough overview of the work of the TRAC development group, understand all the latest guidance, build your technical skills for the year ahead, and network with colleagues is, of course, priceless. You can view the schedule and book your tickets here and, for any queries, please contact Rachel.



In July 2023, the ‘Cost of Net Zero’ report estimated the cost for the Higher and Further Education sector to reach Net Zero will total £43.8 bn, with £37.1 bn attributed to HE. The report, jointly commissioned by BUFDG, AUDE and EAUC and delivered by Energise, was launched alongside a 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. We’re hosting a webinar at 2pm on the 28 September to look at the financial aspects of the tool and feature a demonstration of the calculator from delivery partner Energise, along with Q&A. This event is open to members of BUFDG, AUDE, HEPA, HESPA and EAUC. 

There’s also a webinar on the 20 September taking a closer look at the NTU / Net Positive Futures Net-Zero Carbon Supplier tool. There’s more information here.  

For those working on their own net-zero plans, you’ll be keen to read the news in the FT that the International Energy Agency (IEA) believes that global fossil fuel use will now likely have peaked before 2030. You also might want to read why the 27 September could be a big day in the battle against global warming.


We’re pleased to announce that Sarah Randall-Paley, Director of Finance at the University of Lancaster, has kindly agreed to take on the role of Chair of the National Tax Group. She will join us at the first meeting in the New Year. We said a fond farewell to Philip Hayes at the Tax Conference in June, so we are seeking a Chair for the London and South East Regional Tax Group. If you are interested and want to know more about the role, please contact Andrea.

Andrea and Julia have spent much time over the summer organising a full and varied Time to Talk schedule for the 2023/24 academic year. We are pleased to be able to share this schedule with you, although we will be putting more sessions on as/when issues arise. You can use the links to book yourself on to any event (NB there are a few sessions which don’t yet have links – these should be updated soon).

The IFS has an interesting article on reform of the tax system, which is well worth a read. We suspect university tax professionals will agree at least in principle!

Following feedback from prior PEG events, BUFDG will be holding one regional ‘in-person’ PEG each year, with the remaining sessions online. The online sessions will not be held regionally, instead there will be one event for the whole of the membership. This has allowed the tax team to free up some time in order to host monthly surgeries on employment tax and status, plus global mobility.

The in-person PEGs will be held in October at BDO offices – starting at 10.30 and offering a networking lunch from 12.30. Places are limited so please do book yourself on as soon as possible.

Of the two surgeries, the first is for general employment tax queries and the second will cover all things employment status (IR35) related. The surgeries are for members only and designed so that we can come together and discuss particular issues, share best (and worst) practices as well as experiences, and to help our peers if they are experiencing issues that you have already reviewed. The surgeries will be (mostly) held online, once per month and you can book your place using the links in this post.

The August 2023 publication of HMRC’s Employer Bulletin has arrived in our inbox. This months’ topics include: tax relief on employee contributions to registered pension schemes; correcting payroll mistakes for an earlier tax year; the National Minimum Wage; helping customers steer clear of tax avoidance schemes, and; among other things.

For anyone eagerly following this discussion board, you’ll know that we instructed Vialto to produce guidance for UK universities with employees in CERN. It is intended to act as general advice, which will give an indication of the likely income tax, social security and payroll requirements for a UK university who employs or has academic links with an individual who is working for CERN. The document is in two different forms. There is a grid view that you can access here or, if you need a more accessible format, you can use this word document instead. Both include exactly the same information, just in a different viewing format. Please note that there are certain assumptions taken for this guidance, so please read the context page.

Please remember that you can always read the latest TaxHE newsletter in full (this one is a bumper ‘back to school’ edition), on the Tax pages of the website.



The full suite of guides, notes, and discount rates have now been published for 2023. These can all be found on the Financial Reporting pages of the BUFDG website.

Members can kick-off the new academic year by joining the conversation on innovative new HE funding ideas. In a TtT webinar on 26 September, Marc Meyer-Webb and Olivier de Maximy, founders of Evergreen Trade Capital, will explain how tailored funding support can help meet mounting liquidity challenges faced by HEIs and answer all your questions. For more information and to register, click here.

Nous Group’s Nic Dillon has written a useful explainer about the how forthcoming visa changes on dependants will impact universities. The article looks at which countries, and parts of the sector, could be most affected, and what universities can do about it.  

Oracle partner Inoapps recently held a webinar on connected planning and data strategies, and have made the recording available to members.

Many thanks to KMPG for an informative Time to Talk session focused on ISA 240 plus changes to the Counter-Fraud regulatory landscape. A recording of the presentation is available here, and we also have links to resources mentioned in the session including the KPMG fraud risk questionnaire, the BUFDG Counter-Fraud Toolkit, and the BUFDG Intro to Counter-Fraud e-learning module.

Our Job of the Fortnight is for the Director of Finance at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester. The successful candidate will have “experience in developing strategic and operational plans, managing institutional risk, and analysing data”, and “will also be a key player in student number planning and in the continual development of the College as it responds to global shifts in the demand”. The deadline for applications is 16th October, with interviews w/c 30 October.

As usual, there are lots of other vacancies listed on the BUFDG jobs page.

Read more

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