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Finance record 2015/16 (C15031): Major review - Outcomes

In May 2014, we published a consultation of changes to the Finance Statistics Return (FSR) for 2015/16. This document sets out the results of the consultation process and summarises the changes that are being carried forward for 2015/16 (including one change for 2014/15).

The consultation process

The consultation was launched in May 2014 and ran until July; 108 responses were received from the higher education sector. We are grateful to everybody who responded to the consultation.

The consultation responses were analysed and further discussions have taken place with Statutory Customers and the FSR Review Groups: a strategic-level group and an operational group comprising representation from across the sector. This document announces the results of that process. A PDF icon summary of consultation responses is available.

Results and next steps

SORP

Table 1 to 4 (the primary statements) have been redesigned in the same format as the model financial statements in the new FEHE SORP 2015. These changes will be consistent with providers’ published accounts from 2015/16.

All our outputs (publications, heidi etc.) will change to report on the new data formats. One expected consequence of the changes introduced by FRS102 and reflected in the SORP is that year on year comparisons will be more volatile than before.

More details are available on the BUFDG website.

Collecting restatements due to SORP changes

In order to meet the new requirements for the new FEHE SORP it will be necessary to collect the opening balance sheet for 2014/15 as a one-off. We will also need to collect a converted set of statements for 2014/15.

This will be required at the same time as the 2015/16 accounts: by 1 December 2016. There will be a separate template for these restatements (which will include an extra column for the additional opening balance sheet).

Funding Council returns

The financial tables in HEFCE’s Annual Accountability return (for providers in England and Northern Ireland) and SFC’s Annual Accounts return (for providers in Scotland) will now be combined with HESA’s FSR. They will become one combined finance return for all UK providers in December.

This will reduce the requirements for return of data on providers, and the need to cross-check between returns. However, this combined return will need to be submitted by 1 December, in order to satisfy all Funding Council requirements.

Timing of collection

Currently providers in England and Northern Ireland are required to make returns to HEFCE for 1 December; providers in Scotland make a return to SFC for 31 December; providers in Wales only submit financial statement to HEFCW by 31 December.

In order to satisfy all Funding Council requirements, the new combined finance return will need to be submitted to us by 1 December.

HEFCE and other Funding Councils will then receive data from 1 December, to commence their own data quality checks, in parallel with HESA.

Data collection processes

We will be supplying pre-populated templates from the 2016/17 return onwards (there will be nothing to pre-populate in the 2015/16 year, as there will be no previous data to pre-populate templates with).

The FSR collection method will continue to be an Excel template.

HE-BCI

From 2014/15 the Higher Education – Business and Community (HE-BCI) Survey will be collected separately from the FSR. Cross-checking between the two returns has been limited and the staff preparing the two parts of the return are normally in different parts of the provider, creating an additional overhead.

The current return date of mid-December will remain the same for collection of HE-BCI.

Cost centre tables

There was extensive feedback from the sector on the debate of cost centres-based data. Many providers find this data useful, not time consuming to produce and considered them important for benchmarking. Other providers saw minimal benefit from this data, considered them a burden to produce and believed them to be unreliable. On balance, the majority of view from providers, and of government respondents, was in favour of retention of the cost centres.

In conclusion, cost centre-based data will continue to be collected in the FSR. Although the consultation explored different options for collecting the cost centre tables, there was not a clear consensus on a preferred option. Therefore tables 5-7 will remain the same in the FSR.

TRAC

HEFCE will continue to collect the Transparent Approach to Costing (TRAC) return on behalf of all UK Funding Councils.

Procurement data

Following the consultation responses received, it was felt that more closely defined definitions were needed in order to operationalise this data item. It was agreed in principle that it could be collected in the FSR in future, but that it was not quite ready to be included at this time.

Residences and catering operations

The Residences and catering operations data (currently in FSR Tables 6b, 7 and 8) will be separated into 'Residences' and 'Catering Operations'.

This will also be replicated in the data feed to the Estates Management record.

Income for research studentships and fellowships

Due to the number of providers who suggested that additional burden would be place on them by this change, the guidance will be kept as it currently stands on the reporting of research studentships and fellowships income.

Next steps

We will be working towards the following things, as a consequence of the above changes:

  • Rewriting all the guidance documentation
  • Data quality checks will receive an overhaul
  • The Key Financial Indicators (KFIs) will all need to be rewritten – HESA will identify a group to develop the KFIs, which will include a number of providers who volunteered in their consultation response.

We will publish a full technical specification of the template incorporating the 2015/16 changes in the first quarter of 2015. The complete 2015/16 coding manual will be published in the spring of 2015.

If you have any queries regarding this, please contact us by email or on 01242 211144.