Improvements in college finance


Oxford Colleges have published their financial reports for the year 2009-10.
The reports show an improvement in the general financial state of colleges, with a joint surplus of £2.5 million, although not all signs are positive as the surplus represents less than one percent of total revenue.
Frances Lannon, Chair of the Conference of Colleges and Principle of Lady Margaret Hall, described the surplus as “small” and “below what is required for long-term sustainability”.
Lannon suggested that the circumstances for the University remained challenging in the coming years: “As we prepare for the further cuts announced in government funding for undergraduate teaching, and the introduction of higher fees for UK and EU undergraduates, backed by loans, we face the great challenge of supporting students and widening participation while maintaining excellence in research, teaching, and learning. It is a challenge we are determined to meet, but do not underestimate.”
Some colleges are performing better financially than others despite the general improvement.
Often considered one of the richest colleges in Oxford, St John’s continued to run a deficit that worsened from £3.15 million in 2009 to £4.22 million in 2010. The college has continued to benefit from its high level of endowments, however. When fixed assets are included the deficit in 2010 is reduced to £10,000 compared to £52,000 in 2009.
Colleges generally have benefited from an increase in the value of their endowments, with the overall value of these rising by 11.5 percent in 2010.
Christ Church and Balliol saw the value of their endowments increase by around eight percent, Magdalen 8.87 percent and New College 12.1 percent.
Like St John’s, New College’s expenditure deficit continued to decline from £602,000 in 2009 to £636,000 in 2010.
Magdalen’s financial situation improved significantly, moving into a surplus of £85,000, having run a deficit of £467,000 in 2009.
In contrast, several ‘poor’ colleges had a successful year financially. LMH ran a surplus of £242,000, Teddy Hall’s surplus amounted to £53,000 and Pembroke’s £118,000.
New College’s report highlighted the increasingly important role of charitable giving in raising funds.  Annual charitable giving in 2010 rose to £1.8 million.
The maintenance of Oxford’s historic buildings places a burden on colleges with the depreciation costs on a historic basis reaching £18 million a year according to the University. It estimated in a recent internal report that colleges should collectively be providing £40 million a year to maintain their estates.
Corpus Christi College attributed its deficit of £232,000 to substantial outlays for “continuing maintenance works to a number of the College’s historic buildings”.