Senior Lay Member of Court's introduction
Janet Legrand shares her observations on the University's finances.
"As I reflect on my full first year in post as Senior Lay Member of Court for The University of Edinburgh, it has been a year like no other. Like every organisation across the world, The University of Edinburgh has been faced with an unprecedented set of circumstances, and it’s clear that we face new challenges ahead.
The pandemic has focused our efforts on remaining financially sustainable in the longterm and I’m pleased to say that this year’s Annual Report and Accounts highlights the effectiveness of the hard work and good stewardship at the University over the past year.
We recognise that this has been an exceedingly difficult time for all members of our University community - staff and students. We have taken a range of measures to offer support: increasing frequency and transparency of communication and signposting the many ways in which we provide support for wellbeing and mental health, while explicitly recognising that many staff and students were adapting to significantly new ways of working and learning while facing additional personal challenges.
The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic continues to be felt across all strands of University life. Certain key income streams have been very substantially reduced since March 2021, and we have also faced significant additional costs in some areas. In spite of this, the University has performed well, achieving a positive operating surplus for reinvestment in University activities, with our revenue now approaching £1.2bn.
The University of Edinburgh is one of the leading universities in the world, recently re-evidenced by the latest QS world rankings placing us at number 16. Our core academic mission and aims in Strategy 2030 remain, alongside our conviction that The University of Edinburgh can contribute to making the world a better place.
Our international links are as strong as ever as we forge in-depth relationships: we have entered new agreements across continents, contributed actively to international alliances and continued to attract talented students and staff from all over the world. Our close partnerships with Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China, the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa, Nanyang Technological University in Singapore and the University of Sydney in Australia highlight the diversity and variety of our developing partnerships around the world.
...we have entered new agreements across continents, contributed actively to international alliances and continued to attract talented students and staff from all over the world.
Our international partnerships are invaluable and are working to overcome some of the world’s greatest challenges: a new global partnership that has been launched will connect and empower nurses worldwide to share research, innovations and knowledge to tackle global healthcare challenges, improving care for people who use health services in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Republic of Liberia and Uganda. Last year has brought into sharp focus that many of the threats of the modern world, like the climate emergency and infectious diseases, do not respect national borders.
Our contributions to the city and the region are accelerating, and as part of our Social and Civic Responsibility priorities, in November 2020 we were pleased to publish our Community Plan 2020-2025 which sets out 32 commitments we will deliver on to benefit the city region. The Data-Driven Innovation programme under our City Region Deal underpins the creation of over 1000 new jobs and 115 high-growth new companies, providing data science education to tens of thousands of people, and attracting hundreds of millions of pounds of inward investment into Scotland. City Region Deal set some very ambitious targ
At Edinburgh, we want to expand educational opportunities across all walks of life – a key ambition in our Social and Civic Responsibility Plan, and we are making strong progress in this area. Securing £600,000 of scholarship funding to enable 40 students from low-income countries to study for a part-time, online masters qualification, will start this academic year. Applicants to the Commonwealth Distance Learning Scholarships programme, funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID), come from low and middle-income countries around the world, including Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean. Widening access is a local – and a global – priority for Edinburgh.
The University’s shared sense of duty to improving knowledge and opportunity will remain the benchmark for progress. The achievements highlighted in this report wouldn’t exist without the commitment and dedication of our students and staff, and our friends and alumni around the world with their generous support. The fundamental academic and financial strength of the University and our track record of judicious decision-making means that we continue to move forward with confidence."