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21st March 2018

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BUFDG Annual Report 2018 Matt Sisson

We’re pleased to let you know that this year’s Annual Report is now available to download from the BUFDG website. It’s our second stab at incorporating the principles of Integrated Reporting into our report, and we’ve also taken on some of the feedback from last year to make this year’s report even better.

We’re also realistic that, as with much of the glossy material the HE sector sends itself, the report has a very low chance of being devoured cover to cover – so here are some pointers on bits that might be of particular interest.

  1. If you are curious and you’d like to know more about BUFDG, read pages 1, 4, 5, and 6 (1,200 words / 5 minutes) for an overview, and the working group reports on pages 8 – 13 (2,800 words / 11 minutes) for more detail
  2. If you’d like to know more about Integrated Reporting (IR), and how we’re supporting its implementation in the sector, try pages 3 and 14 (750 words / 3 minutes)
  3. If you are interested in the Professional HE Services (PHES) shared service, which BUFDG shares with AUDE, HEPA, HESPA, and UHR, take a look at pages 6, 7, and 15 (1,000 words / 4 minutes)
  4. And if you would like to hear our take on the sector, what we’re doing next, and some of the potential opportunities for the coming year, read pages 4, 17, and 18 (1,200 words / 5 minutes)

And as always, if you have any thoughts or feedback, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

GDPR – Contractual compliance Emma Keenan

Recognising that the new General Data Protection Regulations come into force in just over two months there is an urgent need for you to update contractual terms and conditions for your locally let contracts as well as any framework agreements you use which will be affected by this new legislation. 

For information on how the Consortia are addressing this and details of a ready-made “pack” of GDPR clauses available to you now please read this member only article.

March's Treasury Management Newsletter Matt Sisson

It’s time for the March Treasury Management newsletter. The headline article is from Society Financial on “what currently drives the currency markets”. Tim writes:

…It’s been a quieter month for big headlines on UK Bank Ring Fencing, with the focus now on the court approval process. Nigel Marsh of European Wealth returns with an article entitled “The Interest Rate Conundrum” – how far will rates rise before they start to have a negative impact on the economy. With Visa and MasterCard Scheme fee increases due to impact from April, I provide a brief explanation and high-level summary of the changes. And finally, one for the students, my colleague David Leighton provides a piece on “Understanding Credit Scoring”.    
We are seeing a trend in Universities increasingly looking at alternatives ways for international students to pay fees and accommodation. This is now more complex for those with a significant Chinese cohort – Simon Reed of Flywire explains the impact of SAFE changes and the need to provide key documentation at the time of the payment. With the WPM Payment and Security Conference fast approaching, Mat Ball of WPM asks, “What is your personal data worth”. Not much it seems. Andy Playle’s second article this month gives us an insight into Credit Default Swaps and explains how one University is using them as part of their Treasury Policy.

Read it in full here.

New 'assurance framework' for TRAC Matt Sisson

The TRAC Development Group has published ‘An assurance framework for TRAC’ this week, which has been circulated to Heads of Finance and TRAC practitioners.

“This useful guide was developed to help institutions… consider the extent of assurance that exists over TRAC, and to give practical guidance on how to develop an assurance framework. It provides useful tools to enable a balanced and proportionate approach to ensuring compliance with the minimum TRAC requirements”. It is to be read alongside the TRAC Guidance, and will provide institutions with “…greater assurance that their TRAC methods and output are robust and reasonable.”

The TRAC secretariat have asked that colleagues share the information with your HEI’s TRAC Oversight Group and other relevant colleagues as appropriate. All the information is on the HEFCE website, but if you have any questions, email the TRAC secretariat.

Conference, sponsors, and top-tips! Matt Sisson

On Sunday, FDs and their deputies will be heading up to Hull for the 2018 BUFDG Annual Conference. This year’s theme will tap into Hull’s ‘UK City of Culture’ status, and focus on the different cultures within the University environment. It looks at the connections between them, their relevance to finance, and the impact they can have on institutional success.

The conference programme is available to download from the dedicated conference website, and it includes key insights from highly-acclaimed speakers such as Tony Crabbe and Sarah Broadhead. As usual, we’re very grateful to our conference sponsors for supporting the event and for helping to make it such a productive networking opportunity. This year many sponsors have also produced Top Tips documents for us that have their own place on the website, so if you want to find out why and how you should “Check, check, and check again”, “protect your property”, or “think about the ethics”, then take a look.

HEFCE - financial health and efficiency returns Matt Sisson

Two HEFCE reports on English sector finances have been launched this week. The annual Financial Health of the HE sector sees income grow from £29.1bn to £29.9bn for 16/17, while sector surplus has dropped from £1.5bn to £1.1bn due to cost increases. Similarly, increases in liquidity from £9.6bn to £10.4bn are set against an increase in borrowing from £8.9bn to 9.9bn.

HEFCE’s Chief Executive, Professor Madeleine Atkins, said: ‘We continue to see significant variation in the financial performance of individual universities and colleges. ‘Universities’ forecasts …signal a general weakening of financial performance, with predictions of lower surpluses and cash levels and higher borrowing levels.” She added that “‘The sector has risen to these sorts of challenges in the past, however, any risks will need careful monitoring and mitigation to ensure long-term sustainability.”

The second report covered the new Annual Efficiency Returns that Institutions submitted at the end of last year. Combined with procurement efficiencies recorded in the EMM survey, HEFCE found the total cash value of efficiencies for 2016/17 stood at £912million, or 3.2% of sector turnover. The sector averages, negating some of the effect of large, one-off capital receipts, was 2.1%.

All sorts of events news Matt Sisson

We have lots of events-related news this week, so here’s a summary:

Any questions, contact our Learning and Development Manager, Rachel.

Finance for Non Finance Managers - new course dates Rachel McLone

We have two new course dates for our popular Finance for Non Finance Managers course, taking place in London and Edinburgh.  This one day course gives non accountants a basic understanding of finance.  The course will provide an understanding of:

  • Financial reporting / budgeting / forecasting cycle
  • Jargon buster and key accounting concepts including capital/revenue/funding
  • Differences between management and statutory accounts
  • Key financial statements
  • Where university money comes from, and what it's spent on
  • Sources of information
  • Costing
  • Finance Department structures and how they link with other university functions
  • Importance of internal controls and audit
  • Basic financial ratios

The course costs £250 (incl VAT) to attend. To book your place, click here for the 19th June in London and here for the 7th September in Edinburgh.  Please note, we are using a new BUFDG booking system and in order to book a place you will need to have a BUFDG user account set up.  If you haven’t yet signed up for your user account, you can do so by clicking here.  Once your account is approved, you can make your booking. For any queries, please contact Rachel.

Expansion on the cards? Matt Sisson

With a new report from HEPI last week that showed how the English HE sector could see a need for an extra 300,000 full time places by 2030, this week the Scottish sector is reporting expansion. Data published by the SFC in two reports this week show there were over 292,000 students studying in Scotland last year, an increase of 2.5%, and a 21% increase in taught postgraduates over the last decade, among other findings.

Click here for info on 16/17 students and qualifiers, and here for info on students eligible for funding, 17/18,

Investment conference, and pensions newsletter Matt Sisson

There is still time to register for Royal London Asset Management’s Annual Investment Conference, a half-day event held at etc.venues County Hall on Thursday 26 April. It features a market overview from RLAM’s CIO, Piers Hillier, followed byAshley Hamilton-Claxton, RLAM’s Head of Responsible Investing. There will then be a series of breakout sessions, with keynote speaker Rasmus Ankersen concluding the day. Rasmus is the bestselling author of Hunger in Paradise and The Goldmine Effect, specialising in the topic of high performance culture, and how companies and individuals can remain successful in an ever-changing world by eliminating complacency. If you have any questions about the event, contact John Burke, Head of Institutional. Further details and registration can be found here.

In related news, Barnett Waddingham’s latest HEads Up newsletter covering HE sector pensions is available on the BW website

Job of the Week Jemma Ladkin

Our Job of the Week is for a Finance Systems Analyst  at Swansea University. “The University has recently upgraded its ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system. Over the past few years the HR/Payroll systems have been replaced and more recently the upgrade to the finance system. The University has grown significantly, and this has increased the need for a more integrated systems approach, together with enhanced reporting capability”.

Swansea University are now “seeking to recruit a Finance Systems Analyst on a permanent contract to work with colleagues in the Finance Systems team and other relevant parties to implement the new functionality within the system and provide ongoing development and support. The successful candidate will be involved in the project life cycle from design, build, testing and post implantation trouble shooting and ideally will have previous experience in integrated systems in a HE environment”. The closing date for applications is Sunday 8th April.

There are lots of other vacancies listed as usual on the BUFDG website.