The Building a Great University update from the July 2017 Leadership Bulletin
Building a Great University – Deborah Harry
June marked the end of the annual planning round, and many colleagues across the University have contributed to the Planning Review Groups, and budget and forecast preparation – for which we thank you. The outcome is that the University is forecasting a small operating surplus for the 17/18 financial year, growing slightly in the following two years. The HE market is challenging and there are both risks and opportunities which will affect our financial result and as we know setting a budget is always easier than achieving it. Because the overall projected surplus is relatively small, it’s really important that each Faculty and Directorate remains focused on at least achieving, and if possible, improving on their planned budget for 17/18.
In addition to the normal operating budget, there are a number of initiatives which we are pursuing to deliver our Strategy implementation plan. To do this, we need to allocate some short term budgets to those programmes as well as looking for opportunities to redirect existing budgets to these activities. This will mean that the small operating surpluses that we have forecast for the next 2 years will become accounting deficits, where our overall expenditure for the year will exceed our income. We are confident that we can do this because we know that spending now on these initiatives will deliver financial savings and other measurable benefits that will increase our future success and financial sustainability. We are also fortunate that we are in a strong financial position, with strong cash balances and many years of consistent surpluses behind us, which means that we can afford to plan a couple of years with accounting deficits.
We are also thinking about our long term financial position, and we have developed a financial model which allows us to look at different options and outcomes. As Mark Swales talked about in his introduction to the previous Bulletin, the estates masterplan is being developed, and once we have identified the projects and plans that are needed, the financial model will help us to understand how much we can afford from our savings and how much we might need to borrow.
These are challenging and exciting times and we are a financially strong university which is confident to make bold choices to ensure our future success.