Staff costs of £603.5 million, excluding the pension provision, represented 54.5% of total expenditure in 2021–22. 36.3% of the staff cost is externally funded (£218.4 million), which predominantly covers Research staff.
Overall staff numbers have stayed broadly unchanged over the last three years, despite the growth in student numbers. This is not a sustainable situation going forwards, particularly as we are planning for further modest growth in student numbers.
The number of Academic, Research, and Learning and Teaching staff is broadly matched by the number of Professional, Technical and Operational Staff.
Operating expenditure increased by £37.5 million to £393.6 million in 2021–22. Included within this is an £11.3 million increase in travel costs as field trips and conferences resumed. £16.2 million of the overall increase was on research grants and contracts, and so externally funded.
Premises-related expenditure increased by 6.8% (£9.8 million). Utility costs represent a third of premises cost and rose by £5.8 million year-on-year to £23.6 million, though this had largely been purchased in advance. The impact of the high increase in energy prices in 2022 will be reflected in the 2022–23 results. Managing consumption levels is a priority.
The reported additions to fixed assets of £52.8 million in 2021–22 (2021: £93.1 million) include a favourable VAT rebate of £12 million. Even adjusting for this, capital expenditure was lower last year than for at least a decade as the scale of new building reduced. Further progress was made on the new School of Public Health building at White City (£17 million spent in-year of a total project cost of £57 million), which is due to be ready for the start of the academic year 2023–24.
We have continued to invest in the refurbishment of our core estate to ensure it meets the requirements of our students and staff. This includes supported revised ways of teaching our students in line with our Education Strategy by adjusting the way teaching space is configured.
Gains and losses on investments
The College’s endowed assets were valued at £219.6 million at the end of the year boosted by new endowments (2021: £202.1 million). These are managed alongside a portfolio of non-endowed funds retained by the College for long-term investment. The target for the portfolio is to deliver a return of at least CPI +5% on a rolling ten-year basis. Despite the market reversals experienced in 2021–22 of £15.8 million, the performance of the portfolio was in line with the ten-year target.
Cash and Cashflow
With a turnover of over £1 billion and relatively low margins, working capital movements can often distort year-on-year comparisons in cash flow from operating activities. The prior year’s figure (2021: £135.3 million) had been boosted by a high net level of advanced funding for research and a new student system leading to improvements in tuition fee billing efficiency (combined impact £57.8 million). The net payment in advance on research contracts was £16 million lower at 31 July 2022 but still around the same level as in July 2020. Cash flow from operating activities in 2021–22 included advance payments of £17 million in respect of our contribution to the new London Institute of Medical Sciences at the Hammersmith Campus, developed in partnership with the Medical Research Council and due to open during the current academic year.
Interest costs remained largely unchanged year-on-year with no new borrowing and most of the College’s debt being on fixed rate terms.
The lower level of investment in fixed assets and additional cash from new endowments reduced the size of the net cash outflow from investing activity to £28.0 million. This reduction was the reason why the level of cash and cash equivalents was higher at the end of the year than the start despite the lower level of cash generated from operating activities.