Location: Manchester, England, United Kingdom
Accreditation Status: Accredited
In partnership with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, the Manchester Metropolitan team devised two unique honors degree programs in tax, one designed for students to graduate into the profession, and a second for senior policy staff.
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In 2011, business school teams at Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) Business School took up the challenge to devise a unique qualification in partnership with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC). We jointly created a brand new honors degree in tax, which aims to achieve substantial extra tax revenues per graduate. The investment in training supports HMRC attempts to meet a Treasury target for increasing the amount of tax it collects and followed an allocated £917 million of funding to HMRC to help tackle the tax gap and raise additional revenues. The Manchester Metropolitan team was appointed after a competitive process against other universities. As part of an internal change process HMRC also wanted external recognition of their professional training. Input from tax and work-based learning experts at our business school was seen as vital in improving the performance of the government department.
MMU accredits an existing HMRC Tax Professional Qualification scheme that is designed for graduate entry to the profession with a route in for existing HMRC staff. It is broadly the equivalent of a professional accounting qualification. The HMRC scheme is a four year program with the first two years accredited by a professional taxation body to cover levels three and four (first-year degree).
The MMU award is a BA (Hons) in professional taxation that covers levels five and six (second and final year degree) and was devised with the support of tax experts within the university’s Accounting, Finance, and Economics Department, working with the work-based learning experts from the Corporate Programme support team. The degree involves a mixture of examinations on tax knowledge and the introduction of work-based learning units that assess the application of the knowledge in live casework.
Nicole Newbury, head of the HMRC Tax Academy, commented at the launch that the additional skills would help give staff the confidence to take on the best of the private sector tax experts in tax disputes. In 2013, MMU won a further tender to deliver a Master of Science in Taxation and Fiscal Policy for senior HMRC policy staff. The master’s degree, designed in close consultation with HMRC, has a particular emphasis on behavioral economics and is flexibly scheduled to accommodate fiscal events.
The honors degree program was based on an existing internal set of examinations at HMRC. The MMU team helped HMRC design and implement two work-based learning modules that reflect on how leadership and behavioral competencies have been developed in applying the tax knowledge on live cases. HMRC has progressively integrated these modules with their six monthly internal appraisals system. The first cohort graduated in 2014 with 87 students, and the intake has risen to 200 per year. HMRC is currently working closely with Manchester Metropolitan for advice and support in further restructuring their degree-level tax professional training, including supporting different approaches to learning and assessment. The assessment on the master’s program is business driven and related to the role undertaken by individuals.
The impact of the master’s program participants on development of U.K. tax policy has already been identified, with HMRC commissioning a second intake to the program. A strong working relationship has developed between HMRC and the university, and our researchers are benefitting from access to data. HMRC invited a senior member of the Manchester Metropolitan corporate programs team to join the Tax Academy Management Board, with the senior policy body determining tax professional training for HMRC. Membership includes the Tax Commissioner (permanent secretary), and the MMU representative is the only external member. The HMRC programs are part of a suite of employer-based training contracts run by MMU Faculty of Business and Law including McDonald’s, Tesco, Asda George, Bank of New York Mellon, and JD Sports Fashion.