University achieves increased income, despite big fall in overseas student numbers

University of Liverpool

The University of Liverpool has published annual figures which it said are “very positive” against the background of the pandemic which saw a reduction in enrolment of overseas students.

Total income for the year ended July 31, 2021, increased by 3.7% to £597.6m, boosted by £17.4m, or 18.3%, growth in research income.

The surplus before tax of £47m compared with £67.2m the previous year.

Tuition fee income reduced by £12.9m (4.1%) to £304.4m. The university revealed that overall student numbers were down 4.4% compared with last year.
Strong demand from home students following changes to A level results (up 4.0%) was offset by a reduction in overseas students of 23.6% due to the pandemic.

Research grants and contracts income increased by £17.4m (18.3%) to £112.5m, which, the university said, is a very positive result and is linked to significant increases in awards over the past two years, along with additional research activity in relation to COVID-19.

Government grant funding pf £5m was received relating to the new Digital Innovation Facility, which was completed in May 2021.

Operating cash inflow of £97.1m was strong at 16.2% of total income. The year on year increase of £43m was largely due to delays in capital spend due to the pandemic, and working capital movements in the year.

Staff costs increased by £60.7m (22.5%) to £330.4m. This was impacted by the significant reduction in the USS (Universities Superannuation Scheme) pension provision (noncash) last year, and included £2.5m restructuring payments, compared with £6.4m in the prior year. Excluding these amounts, staff costs were down circa £2.4m year on year.

Although the pre-tax surplus declined, the university said: “This is an excellent result, given the significant drop in international students. Income shortfalls have been offset by a significant £10m donation in relation to the setup of our Pandemic Institute, a collaboration with partners across the city. This donation will be largely spent in future years.

“Additional costs incurred as a result of COVID-19 have been more than offset by our strong cost controls in the year, with both pay and non-pay costs falling year on year compared with 2019-20.”

It added: “Our research income is up significantly year on year (c18% to £112.5m), and more importantly awards have seen a real step change since 2018-19 levels with increases over the last two years, which is a real achievement and hugely positive result which will also benefit future years.”

Prof Dame Janet Beer

University vice-chancellor, Prof Dame Janet Beer, said: “When I introduced this annual report last year, I wrote that 2019-20 had been an academic year like no other. It has become clear, since, just how little any of us knew then about the sustained social, economic and wider impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, locally, nationally and internationally.”

She added: “I am incredibly proud of the many ways in which our university community has continued to respond in 2020-21 – from healthcare students and clinical researchers volunteering to help treat patients and as part of the vaccination efforts, to researchers working tirelessly to find drugs, sequence genomes, analyse data, and much more, in order to help control the virus and inform public policy.”