The release of the University of Edinburgh’s income and expense information for 2017 has raised some questions from university students. Most pressingly, from the university’s £905,834,000 total income in 2017, a surplus of £132,635,000 was left over — a surplus larger than that of all the universities in Scotland combined.
A variety of statistics point to the University’s financial growth in 2017. One example of this is an increase from £49,237, 000 total comprehensive income in 2016, versus £127,506,000 total comprehensive income in 2017. More than double that of the previous year. Revenue has had a less extreme increase of £40,000,000.
These statistics provide little insight into the plans of the university – namely, what it plans on investing this large sum of money towards, and why.
One first year student found this information “worrying”, wishing to “look into to it” but “unsure if we [could] get to the bottom of this.” She added. “It’s weird how it’s increased so much…there’s a lot left unexplained about the sources of the money.”
Ronald Kerr, head of news for Edinburgh Press & PR was contacted, as well as the University of Edinburgh Press Office and Students’ Association VP Bobbi Archer.
Speaking for the Student’s Association, Vice President Bobbi Archer explained that the Students’ Association does not get “input into the planning rounds of the university, but only internally within the Students’ Association itself.”
She also added that “where this funding comes from varies depending on Alumni donations, tuition fees or sponsorship. As a VP at the Students’ Association I can only lobby the university and tell them where to make investments to contribute to the student experience.”
A University of Edinburgh spokesperson from the press office replied: “Changes to accounting regulations mean that there will be much more volatility in the surplus and deficits reported by Universities – with funding for long-term projects recognised when received rather than over the life of the project. The University of Edinburgh is, however, in a strong financial position.”
She continued, “All funds generated by the University must be used for our charitable objectives; fundamentally for the benefit of teaching and research. We plan significant investment over the course of the next 10 years including our recent announcement of over £200m in student facing facilities including expanded and improved teaching and study spaces, a major new Student Centre, a Health & Wellbeing Centre and enhanced sports facilities.”
The £200m investment will include work on the iconic Teviot Row House on central campus, and will additionally allow the university to pursue its plans for more study spaces on campus.
£15 million is going towards making university buildings more accessible, and more buildings are being equipped with the Media Hopper Replay system, which enables the recording of lectures.
Meanwhile, the Murchison House project at King’s Building Campus is already in progress, due for completion in 2019.
Part of the focus on student facilities will be dedicated to outdoor sports and facilities, with a budget of £30 million.
A new Health and Wellbeing centre is also planned to open at 7 Bristo square, although some students wonder if a new centre should be the first priority, with one student commenting that “the waiting list is very, very long to get appointments” for the counselling service in the library, and the help she received was very “general”, mentioning that the university’s aim at these facilities seemed to be on “study related problems like anxiety and stress.”
No response was given by Ronald Kerr, Head of News at the university.
Image: Rosie Duckworth / Photographer