18th October 2022Six areas for Finance Directors to consider at the start of a new academic year

As we start a new university academic year, finance directors and senior management teams will have a lot on their minds in an ever-changing and challenging macro environment.  We set out six challenges and opportunities for institutions to consider:

  • Managing the impacts of inflation: With the exponential rise in inflation resulting in significant additional costs to institutions, financial sustainability is going to be high on the agenda of an FD. To be able to produce surpluses, financial and operational effectiveness is vital in achieving growth plans for those universities looking to grow and new systems to streamline areas may be worth considering. There are also a number of tax strategies for consideration to mitigate the impact of inflation – more information here.
  • Government and regulatory change; with a new Prime Minister and Education Minister now in post, there will inevitably come more regulatory change and unrest.  There has been a recent focus on STEM subjects, static fee rates, graduate outcomes and potential student caps counterbalanced by opportunities in more flexible learning meaning that Institutions must remain agile to be able to adhere to the changes.
  • Student numbers: many universities are looking to achieve international growth and the key will be your differentiators; what sets you apart from everyone else. The same applies to UK growth where the Office for Students (OfS) have commented that all universities are looking to grow student numbers and even with the forthcoming demographic blip, some may need a plan B. Maintaining positive results from areas such as the national student survey and People and Planet League tables will create that attractive proposition for future students.
  • Continuing to be an attractive employer: staff retention and recruitment is very difficult across the sector and the pandemic has seen a change in working practices which has had a knock-on effect on employers. It is vital to keep abreast of what your people are thinking and to balance needs to remain an attractive proposition.
  • Cyber is an increasing risk: several HEIs have suffered cyber-attacks over the last year and all organisations need to be vigilant in this area with Institutions being particularly vulnerable as it impacts operationally as well as reputationally.
  • ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) is increasing in focus: the expectations of stakeholders and students is growing and all HEIs will need to play their part. What commitment has your university made to tackling climate change, and how do you know this is being delivered?  Universities should be at the forefront of this agenda, and not just because it is a good thing to be doing but because it is what the students are demanding. This topic was discussed at a recent event we held where you can read the write up here.

If you’d like to discuss any of the above areas in more detail, please contact Carol Rudge.

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