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Financial information

The university retained an operating surplus of £28m in 2021/22 before the change in the USS pension scheme provision.

Despite the challenges as we emerged from the global pandemic into the ‘new normal’ way of operating, the university was able to retain an operating surplus of £28m, before the change in the USS pension scheme provision, and strengthen its financial reserves.

The university is in a strong position financially to deal with any future financial challenges. We remain focused on delivering an excellent student experience alongside our five priorities of the health and wellbeing of our staff and students, maintaining financial sustainability, improving student satisfaction and experience, supporting research grants and contracts, and continuing to contribute to our civic mission.

The university still faces significant uncertainties and risks. Future UK and Welsh Government policy could have a major impact on the funding of higher education. At the time of writing, new economic headwinds were starting to emerge in inflation, especially in energy costs and higher interest rates.

Annual Report and Financial Statements 2022

Year ended 31 July 2022.

Where our money comes from

2021/22 saw our total income grow from £612m (restated – see note 29 in the financial statements) to £634m in 2021/22 largely due to strong growth in research income (up £13m or 11% to £125m), tuition fee income (up £9m or 2.9% to £289m) and residence, catering, and conference income (up £5m or 22% to £28m).

Whilst recurrent grant income from HEFCW increased by £13m to £75m, overall funding reduced by £11m. This reduction reflected the withdrawal of Welsh Government COVID-19 funding for the sector to support students, staff, and facilities as we emerged from the worst of the pandemic.

Other income recovered from the impact of the pandemic with services rendered to UK Government and other sources growing strongly as well as residences catering and conferencing activity.

Analysis of income by category

Funding body grants £50m £58m £78m £109m £99m
Tuition fees and support grants £270m £285m £304m £315m £324m
Research grants and contracts £106m £116m £113m £112m £125m
Other income £97m £85m £81m £76m £86m
Total income£523m£544m£576m£612m£634m

What we spend our money on

In 2021/22, we spent £607m compared to £578m the previous year, an increase of £29m. The increase in expenditure is largely attributable to the institution returning to near pre-COVID-19 operating environment.

Staff costs grew by 3.0% in the year which was less than income grew despite the payment of a £750 one-off payment to all staff up from the £250 paid in 2020/21. These payments reflected the exceptional commitment and dedication of staff during the pandemic. Average staff full-time equivalent (FTE) numbers increased by 4% to 6,032 mainly in academic areas as we strove to improve the student experience and to deliver our research commitments. Staff costs as a proportion of income were 53.5% and remained broadly in line with the previous year (53.8%).

Operating expenses increased by £18m to £213m in the year as the institution gradually returns to a normal operating environment, whilst investing further in supporting staff and students, and continuing to maintain a safe campus whilst COVID-19 variants still circulate the general UK population.

2021/22 expenditure by category

Academic departments42%
Academic services6%
Research grants and contracts15%
Other services rendered6%
Residences, catering and conferences3%
Administration and central services11%
Other expenses1%
Depreciation, interests and financial costs9%

Following last year’s record level of annual capital spend at £133.1m the campus upgrade programme was substantially completed in 2021/22. This year saw the opening of Abacws, our new School of Mathematics and School of Computer Science and Informatics, an upgraded Bute Building to accommodate the Welsh School of Architecture and the Centre for Student Life.

These buildings were joined by sbarc/spark, a state-of-the-art building at the heart of the university’s Cardiff Innovation Campus which brings together social science researchers, entrepreneurs, student start-ups and academic spinouts, and the Translational Research Hub, a multi-million-pound facility where industry and scientists from the worlds of catalysis and compound semiconductors work together to solve commercial challenges. Together, these incredible buildings are investing in our people, places, and partnerships.

As well as offering very practical support, and being a home for students between classes, the Centre for Student Life is a wonderful symbol of how much importance we attach to the welfare, wellbeing, and academic progress of our students. It also played host to a graduation ceremony for school children from across the city. The pupils from four primary schools dressed in traditional caps and gowns to mark the completion of a new scheme designed to encourage and develop a love of learning.

We increased the support available to students via hardship funds in response to the cost-of-living crisis. This vital funding means students most in need have access to over £1m in additional support.

We are collaborating with the Cowrie Scholarship Foundation to provide scholarships for financially disadvantaged Black British students.

We reacted quickly to the situation in Ukraine, pledging £1m over the next three years to support academics and students in the country who have been affected by the war.

The academic year ended with an ambitious graduation celebration. The classes of 2020 and 2021, who had seen their graduation ceremonies postponed because of COVID-19 restrictions, joined the class of 2022 for a wonderful series of events to mark their achievements. Realising this huge event and seeing it through to fruition captured the dedication and commitment that we have to our students and graduates.