Accounts show financial sustainability plan is working
11 December 2023
The University of Reading has published its financial statement for 2022/23.
The financial year ending 31 July 2023 was challenging for the whole higher education sector, including Reading. Following years of Covid-19 related impacts, the University saw an increase in some income streams, as activity returned to the new normal post-pandemic. However, the University also saw a significant rise in expenditure levels. This was largely due to increased activity compared to 2022; increased staff costs – including the early implementation of the 2023/24 national pay award; a rise in utility prices; and other inflationary pressures, such as static home undergraduate tuition fee rates.
The University’s statutory reported deficit, taking account of all aspects of the University’s activities, has been reduced to -£8.3m, from -£48.5m in 2021/22. However, for 2022/23 this includes a positive pension scheme provision movement which is detailed in the accounts.
The University is managing the impact of these ongoing economic pressures, working closely with the University Council to implement a number of measures that have already seen in-year savings made, demonstrating that the University’s response is working.
In order to secure the future financial stability of the institution, the University must remain focused on delivering further expenditure savings and controls, and targeted investment strategies that enable future growth and long-term cost savings.
Professor Robert Van de Noort, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Reading, said:
“Financial sustainability is a key part of the University Strategy. As the annual report shows, we are facing a number of significant challenges right now, as is the rest of the national economy.
“Our strong financial asset base has put us in a good position to face these challenges, which will remain an ongoing issue for the foreseeable future. As part of our financial sustainability plans, we have worked closely with the University Council to agree a clear set of measures that will enable us to deliver future growth as well as long-term cost savings.
“As we approach our centenary in 2026, we must ensure the University’s financial position remains stable and ready to grow, while also continuing to deliver high quality teaching and research, and the best possible experience for our students.”
The key figures from the 2022/23 financial statement include:
- Total income on operating activities: £337.9m. Up 7% from £316.9m in 2021/22.
- Total expenditure on operating activities: £364.6m (excluding a pension provision movement) – up by £30.1m in 2021/22. This is largely due to an increased level of activity and expenditure in 2023 compared to 2022, as operations returned to the new normal post-pandemic. This also included an increase in staffing costs of £15m (explained below), £3.5m increase in pension interest in relation to the USS scheme, and a £5.4m increase in utilities. In addition, inflationary pressure has impacted other areas such as farm operations.
- Staff costs: Total staff costs have increased to £203m (2021/22: £188.3m). The increase is mainly due to pay awards and incremental progression rather than growth in staff numbers. The University paid the 2023/24 national pay award early, with effect from February 2023, as part of an employer-led initiative, adding £2m to staff costs in 2022/23. The 2023/24 pay award has been implemented in full in August 2023 and is in the range 5–8% for different staff groups, reflecting current inflation rates.
- Total deficit, taking account of all aspects of the University’s activities, is £8.3m, reduced from £48.5m in 2021/22. Within this result, the University’s investment asset portfolio showed a small reduction in value. This has been combined with the in-year reduction of the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) pension provision. For the University of Reading, this resulted in a decrease in the provision to £102.5m, the movement showing as a decrease of £19.6m in staff costs in-year and a finance charge of £3.9m, so a net cost of £15.7m. The current deficit recovery plan in place is linked to the 2020 valuation of USS.
- Tuition fee and education contracts income: increased by £8.3m to £197.3m, following years of Covid-19 related impacts.
- Total research income received: decreased by 10% to £34.3m, reflecting a competitive and difficult funding landscape post-pandemic and sources of EU funding suspended post-Brexit.
- Consolidated net assets: totalled £463.2m on 31 July 2022, compared to £451.1m in 2022, with the increase due primarily to the USS pension provision movement.
- Investments: investments held by the University and its trusts are valued at £123.9m, down from £128m in 2021/22, reflecting global market conditions in a turbulent year.