This article contains my own views and was originally Published on March 30, 2020 via my personal LinkedIn profile to support interested readers throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. Ian Robinson – Sector Head | Public Sector and Education
After the last couple of weeks, I've finally used the weekend to take a breath, gather my thoughts and build a new climbing frame in the garden to keep a toddler entertained for the foreseeable future. Time to put these thoughts down on LinkedIn - where do I and where do universities start?
I'll kick off with just a few of the considerations you may have taken for the short, medium and long term;
Short term considerations and actions
Moving to online provision, relocating staff, closing campuses, supporting physical and mental wellbeing, supporting student hardship funds, adapting to new ways of working, communicating effectively and remaining vigilant to evolving fraud threats.
Disbursement of May's Student Loan Company income, regulatory support, next semester’s residential income, summer income holes, ensuring immediate liquidity (be it cash or undrawn bank facilities), assessing cost savings, year-end covenants and supporting the national effort.
Exams and grades, student applications, IELTS, global travel and international student dynamics, domestic student demand, uncertainty on social distancing timeframes, potential deferrals, clearing, research income, EU connections, how to access longer term financial support, what is 'investment grade', do I need a public rating, can I access the CCFF, how much capital do I need and understanding new ways of working and delivering content necessitated by the current environment over the longer term.
Whilst this is certainly not an exhaustive list, they are just a few of the many considerations universities are wrestling with at present. Whoever would have thought that Brexit would be so low down the pecking order?
How do universities plan, sensitise and protect the ongoing financial sustainability of their institution and sector as a whole, given the unprecedented levels of change and uncertainty? How do you know if you are investment grade? How do you know if you can access the Bank of England's support?
To make sure I can help I am working extremely closely with the Bank of England and our Debt Capital Markets team to ensure support is available to UK Higher Education Institutions. I am supporting clients with existing facilities and covenants whilst pulling the appropriate levers to support institutions. Everyone has different requirements and there are various support measures available depending on how early you address this.
I am also in dialogue with debt advisors, auditors, restructuring firms, lawyers and sector groups such as BUFDG, Wonkhe, DiT and UUK to ensure we are on the front foot in supporting you.
Get in touch
Ensuring continued access to support and the practicalities of doing so are a key concern for many. I am here to support you in doing this and to provide guidance on what banks need from you in order to access that support.
All I ask is that you get in touch. Please do, even if your banking is held elsewhere. I’m more than happy to have a discussion on the various challenges and support packages available and more importantly how to access these, the steps you need to take and how your lenders can support you in raising capital.
Again, please feel free to reach out, get in touch and stay safe.
Ian – Sector Head, Public Sector and Education
+44 7920 417 565
Ian Robinson, HSBC UK’s Head of Public Sector & Education, explores the impact of Coronavirus on education institutions across the UK, from his observations across the sector and his conversations with clients.