UCL News


Reporting UCL’s annual surplus

29 November 2018

UCL’s financial statements were approved by Council on Friday 16 November. This update gives you the headline numbers, with appropriate background information and context.

UCL's annual surplus

The overall result is positive. Our operating surplus of £85m is a little ahead of our target surplus of £80m. This represents just over 5.5% of our total income. Hitting the target enables us to continue to invest in our strategic academic priorities, in IT, equipment, and the estate, all of which is key to maintaining our world-leading academic excellence.

The operating surplus is based on taking into account our income and expenditure but taking out, as far as we can, one-offs in either cost or spending, which can affect the overall picture. The year just ended has been a good one for positive one-offs, without much downside. The accounts have always shown the one-offs, but in the past, universities were able to ‘smooth’ the effect of them in any one year, for example by showing the income from a grant over a number of years, in parallel with the pace at which it is being spent. 

A new accounting standard, called FRS 102, now requires all UK universities to record all income in full in the year in which it is received. This inevitably leads to greater volatility in the accounts, especially for successful institutions such as ours, where the hard work and commitment of the academic community enables us to regularly secure large grants and donations, which are then spent over a number of years.

Our published accounts therefore show that UCL’s surplus for 2017/18 is £149m. The total surplus (using the FRS 102 accounting standard) includes one-offs and so some of the bigger ones are highlighted below to show how we get from an operating surplus of £85m to a published surplus of £149m:

Operating surplus£85mThis is marginally above the target of £80m as a result of favourable variances in some Faculties and parts of Professional Services 
One-off items£64mThis is the net of favourable and adverse items.  The most significant favourable items were:
•    £18.5m - HS2 compensation receipt for the compulsory purchase of Wolfson House
•    £27.8m - grant funding for land acquisition. This is an RPIF grant from HEFCE (OFS) matching philanthropic income for the purchase of the site for the new Institute of Neurology/Dementia Research Institute
•    £10m - unrealised gains on investments from our investment portfolio
•    £15m - sale of investments and revaluations in UCLB, representing a very good year for UCLB in securing income from our intellectual property
Total surplus£149mFRS102 surplus available for reinvestment

UCL is a place in which we create and advance knowledge for global benefit. Our robust financial performance is the foundation that makes it possible. Keeping UCL on a sound financial footing puts us in a good place to withstand whatever challenges we face in the next few months and years.