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08th September 2021

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BUFDG Weekly Digest, 8th September 21 Matt Sisson


BUFDG

The latest edition of the Chair’s Quarterly is now out. We have a range of articles for you that touch on issues that we’re sure will be somewhere on your department's ‘to-do’ list – although how high up will vary across institutions. You can download the Quarterly here. And if you don't receive it directly, but would like to, click here to subscribe.

Our first article is from Amanda Darley, in her new role as BUFDG’s Head of Operations and Engagement. You can find out more about the recent staff changes at BUFDG, including why Karel is now 3-days a week, in last week’s Digest. Amanda’s article comes off the back of a member-wide survey, and outlines plans for e-learning (see more below), L&D, and the new website, and how we hope to support members over the next year.

Next up are some key links and important information relating to both Financial Reporting and TRAC that we would hate for you to have missed while on your Summer holidays. This is followed by an article from TEC’s Richard Murphy on energy usage in the sector and making the most of funding for carbon-reduction initiatives – when it appears.

The fourth article covers resourcing tax teams for forthcoming challenges (courtesy of tax specialists - Andrea and Julia), before UMAL’s Paul Cusition explores the immediate issue of acquiring cyber-insurance, and how institutions can improve their chances of securing insurance (while protecting themselves from attacks at the same time).


FOUR NEW E-LEARNING COURSES

We're delighted to announce that we've launched four new and updated e-learning courses this week. We will also be launching more courses throughout September, so keep an eye out for those. The four launched this week are:

Introduction to Pensions in HE (BUFDG Pro) – a high level of overview of how pensions work in the HE sector suitable for anyone needing a broad understanding of HE pensions.

Anti-money laundering (BUFDG Pro) – a compliance course for anyone who needs to know more about money laundering and the relevant regulations, what to do if you have a suspicion, specific red flags and mitigations in the HE sector, and the consequences of getting it wrong.

Adding value as a Business Partner (BUFDG Pro) – helping business partners identify their strategic role, get involved in decisions earlier, learn tools and tips to build effectiveness, plan ways to be proactive and add value, and demonstrate the value they add.

Intro to Counter Fraud (updated version, free course) - aims to increase the understanding of fraud amongst university staff. It will help you understand what fraud is, and what you can do about it. It is aimed at anybody working in universities in any role at all. Anybody can commit fraud, and everyone can help identify and reduce the risk of it. 


RESEARCH

BEIS launched an independent Review of Research Bureaucracy earlier this year and, presuming you missed it first time around, the Press Release and Terms of Reference can be found here. The Review is considering research bureaucracy from a system-wide perspective – looking at the interactions between funders, institutions, and individuals and teams carrying out research. It is currently completing the initial evidence-gathering phase, taking views from across the sector to identify where unnecessary bureaucracy is in the system, its causes, and ideas on ways to remove this burden. To support this stage, the BEIS Secretariat team have launched a call for evidence, which will stay open until Friday, 1st of October. Responses to the call for evidence will be considered in addition to the evidence already gathered.


PROCUREMENT

The latest HEPA newsletter was published last week. It covers a wide range of updates, including Modern Slavery and Human Rights tools, cyber-security and insurance, a systems survey (in conjunction with UKUPC), and lots of learning and development items. If you have any questions, please contact Ashley.

Addleshaw Goddard have made available a great on demand session covering force majeure clauses in commercial contracts. The half an hour webinar explores force majeure clauses in commercial contracts as a result of the coronavirus (covid-19) pandemic - you can view the training here.

Eversheds Sutherland is holding a training session aimed at anyone working in the education sector who needs an understanding or refresher on the relevance of charity law on their institution’s operations. The webinar will cover key charity issues for institutions including: the legal structure and charitable status of institutions; the use of charity assets and investment powers; charity trustees and their duties in law; conflicts of interest and remuneration of trustees, and; the Charity Commission’s role and other principal regulators. The training takes place on 6 October, is free to attend, and bookings can be made here.


FINANCIAL REPORTING

There have been a lot of Financial Reporting updates over the last month or so and, as many colleagues will have been on holiday over this time, we thought it would be worth doing a final round-up. Most of these updates will have been included in the recent FRG Summer Newsletter, which you can download from the BUFDG website. The major ones that most will be on the lookout for are on the Financial Reporting resources page – these include the latest Model Financial Statements, and the USS Deficit Provision Modeller, Disclosure Note, and Discount Rates Guidance. If you have any questions about any of the above, drop a line to Karen or Matt.          


MA / TRAC

OfS has recently provided details of its reporting deadlines for returns due in 2021-22, including the deadlines for AFR. It provides notice of the deadline for TRAC 2020-21 (i.e. 31 March 2022, but early returns strongly encouraged) and confirmation that TRAC(T) will not be collected for 2020-21. This notice was published by OfS on 20 July 2021 along with several other OfS announcements about recurrent and capital funding, and about the consultation on Quality and standards and TEF, so may have been missed. In addition, the most recent TRAC benchmarking data is available on the OfS website.


STRATEGY / PLANNING

Tribal is seeking around 8-10 universities to join in with a new Performance Benchmarking pilot project, that combines both its Financial Benchmarking product and the Student barometer survey, to “bring transparency to the correlation between resource allocation/investment and student experience.” The project extends work with several individual institutions over the last two years, and the aim is that the comparison data available from a broader project “will help participating institutions decide on appropriate levels of investment to improve specific areas of performance, and inform the development of robust, evidence-based strategies to improve financial resilience.” There’s more information on the dedicated pilot project web page.


TAX & EMPLOYMENT

In July, Andrea raised the following questions with HMRC regarding supply and install contracts and has received this response. We suggest that colleagues in procurement liaise with their tax colleagues before any major S&I contracts involving EU suppliers are procured. There’s lots more context in this news article and, if you have any questions,  please contact Andrea.

The BUFDG and HEPA guide to Imports of Goods from 1 January 2021 has been updated. The guide has been prepared as a reference point for procurement, purchasing, finance and tax teams within universities when purchasing/importing goods from outside the UK from 1 January 2021. The updates include HMRC alerts up to 1/9/2021. On the first and second page there is a table listing all amendments that have been made to the previous version. Within the text these amendments are highlighted in blue. For more context and information, read this news article.

Yesterday, the Government announced an increase in NIC from April 2022 of 1.25% to fund NHS and social care in the UK. Much is still unknown, but here's what we do know so far.

The most recent TaxHE newsletter is available as usual from the Tax resources page.


GOVERNANCE / AUDIT

AHUA has put together a new online Governance Programme for university Directors comprising six, 90-minute, monthly, online workshops starting in October. The Programme has been devised as a Masterclass introduction to governance – starting with the fundamentals and then moving on to identify the key building blocks of a high-quality system of governance. It will be led by Seamus Gillen, previously Policy Director of the Chartered Governance Institute and an expert in the field. The deadline for applications is 1 October.

The Open University is looking for a new Chief Auditor, based in Milton Keynes. The successful candidate will “have the skills knowledge and experience to lead a first-class Internal Audit function, a vision of what can be achieved, and the drive to make that happen”. They will be “determined, courageous, just, calm, resilient and of course independent” – among other aspirational traits! The deadline for applications is the 29th September.

For other vacancies, check out the BUFDG jobs page.



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