In a recently released financial statement, King’s College London (KCL) reported an annual surplus of £128 million in the year leading up to 31 July 2023.
The surplus was largely a result of the revaluation of the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) pension, which meant a reduction in liability provision for KCL and constituted £68 million of the surplus.
A further £29 million of the surplus came from “new donations and endowments”, alongside an operations surplus of £31 million.
In a year marked by strikes and marking and assessment boycotts by the Universities and Colleges Union (UCU) over pay, the figure may rankle. Although, it should be noted that pay is collectively bargained for UK universities by the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA), of which King’s is only a member. The surplus is not a payment to or from King’s, but reflects a provision in their financial accounts that represents the university’s share of the USS deficit.
The figure would also be enough to reimburse a year’s tuition fees for 13,870 domestic students. A recent investigation by Roar found that King’s standard provision for the most underprivileged students is the lowest among London’s Russell Group universities.
In the year prior (31 July 2021-2022), the university had reported a loss of £245 million, a figure itself affected by a previous revaluation of the USS pension fund which had increased King’s liability provision by £290 million.
In other improvements, the year 2022-23 saw university income from research grants and contracts increase by £15.1 million to a total of £236.3 million.
Earnings from donations and benefactors also increased to £29 million, a significant increase from £11 million in earnings the year prior. Vice-Chancellor Shitij Kapur said in his report that “philanthropic support will become an ever more important source of support for our future ambitions”.
Roar contacted the KCL UCU for comment. They said the surplus “was generated in no small part from (over £60 million) from our win over USS due to our strike action and marking and assessment boycott”, and that funds “should be invested across issues we raised: pay, workload, casualization, equalities”.
They pointed to the costs of staff visas, as well as de-casualisation of staff contracts, as areas for future investment. In addition, they suggested the funds be used to “ease any financial issues” associated with the UCU’s push for divestment from “companies profiting from imperialist wars, occupation, borders and environmental destruction”.
The statement reported that the university employed 8,861 staff (full-time equivalent), meaning it generated a surplus of £14,400 per staff member.
Roar contacted King’s College London for comment. A spokesperson said: “At King’s, we aim to make a financial surplus to create the investment funds needed to maintain and enhance our University for future generations of King’s students and staff, as well as to ensure that if our plans are not achieved in any year, we have financial reserves to call on.”