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Our University’s financial performance 2020/21

07 Jan 2022

A message from Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell, President and Vice-Chancellor and John Cunningham, Chief Financial Officer (interim)

University of Manchester

Dear colleagues,

We have published our 2020/21 Financial Statements which you can find in full on the University website. Here are some of the headline messages to give you a better insight into how we are funded, where we invest our income and the financial opportunities and challenges ahead. Above all, we would like to thank all our staff for their incredible work during this period.

This was again a challenging and unusual year for our University with COVID-19 still having a significant impact on all aspects of activity.  We have reported an improved operating surplus* of £61.4m (5.6% of income) compared to £5.2m (0.5% of income) for 2019/20.  The year-on-year improvement partly reflects higher student numbers and associated tuition fee income, but many of the University’s activities continue to be below 2018/19 operating levels as a direct result of the pandemic.  This operating surplus is still well below the level we need to make essential investments in our core mission and infrastructure.

Following the measures introduced in the previous year, we continued to permit only essential non-pay expenditure, furloughed staff where eligible and introduced a range of voluntary measures to save costs. Temporary savings were also made because many activities on campus ceased or reduced during COVID-19 related restrictions, and some planned expenditure was deferred. In other cases, we spent more than planned e.g. on student support, wellbeing services, further improvements to the provision of online learning and maintaining a COVID-19 secure campus.

The current funding environment facing all research-intensive universities, rising costs that we face and the ever-growing demands on us as a highly successful teaching and research-intensive institution, mean we need to generate an operating cash surplus of about 10% of income each year to meet growing demands and deliver on our ambitions and core activities. We continue to face significant financial uncertainty.  The UK research funding model is unsustainable, the impact of Brexit is still not fully assessed, inflation is rising significantly, staff costs are increasing faster than our income and the funding of pensions in the higher education sector remain a concern.

Kind regards,

Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell, President and Vice-Chancellor

John Cunningham, Chief Financial Officer (interim)

Further information: