Policy Expert on Higher Education Financial Sustainability

Robertson Bell are proud to be working in a retained partnership with Department for Education on a national recruitment campaign for Finance, Policy, Risk and Assurance.

DfE are a ministerial department supported by 18 agencies, public bodies, and non-ministerial departments, with offices based across England including London, Manchester, Sheffield. They are responsible for children’s services and education, including higher and further education policy, apprenticeships and wider skills across England. They work to provide children’s services and education that ensure opportunity is equal for all, no matter what their background or family circumstances.

This an exciting time to join the Higher Education, STEM, and Tertiary Providers Directorate, with the Higher Education and Research Act having gained Royal Assent in 2017, and a new Office for Students (OfS) and Regulatory Framework having been established in April 2018. Alongside the OfS, we are going through a transitional year, with the new HE system coming fully into operation in the 2019 academic year.

This post is in the Higher Education Regulatory and Provider Policy Unit, working on the increasingly important and high-profile policy area of the financial sustainability of HE providers. We are working closely alongside the OfS, as it settles into its functions as the new regulator, so that we can understand and influence the approach it is taking and identify scope for collaboration and sharing information. We are also seeking to develop our own comprehensive understanding of HE provider financial sustainability issues, differentiated across a heterogeneous provider base. This will enable us to ensure that the Department’s policy development takes into account potential financial sustainability implications, and to advise Ministers accordingly. This insight into financial sustainability will be very significant in a policy context that currently involves a major Government review of post-18 education and funding and is likely soon to involve a full Government Spending Review.

*Deepening and maintaining the Department’s differentiated understanding of the financial health of the diverse HE provider sector
*Working with OfS and DfE analysts to ensure the timely development of monitoring and reporting on financial health and sustainability factors across all types of HE providers regulated by the OfS
*Understanding OfS’s use of financial metrics in its work, and working with DfE analysts on the use of appropriate metrics (e.g. linked to performance across a range of policy priorities) for use in assessing the potential impact of policy options and changes
*Developing the Department’s understanding of the financial sector’s view of HE providers and how this applies to different categories of providers in respect of raising private finance
*Leading the Directorate’s input into wider Government policy development on funding infrastructural projects after Brexit

The successful candidate will require good collaborative working skills, as there will be significant amounts of joint working with policy, analytical and finance colleagues in the Department and the OfS, as well as engagement with sector stakeholders. This is a pivotal role ensuring that detailed/complex financial sustainability issues are properly taken account of in policy work and are communicated to other policy colleagues and Ministers as appropriate. This will require the successful candidate to have strong skills in interpreting information, drawing conclusions and conveying arguments in a clear, easily comprehensible way. The post provides an excellent opportunity for a person with an analytical or financial background to gain experience in a policy environment and to work with a regulator.

From the perspective of experience, we are looking for candidates with some grounding in a discipline which will add to our capacity to understand financial sustainability issues – for example economics, or financial and accounting.

For further information regarding the process and other opportunities with DfE  click here.

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  • Michael Swinburn
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