Dawn over Christ Church
Dawn over Christ Church
Credit: Cosima Gillhammer ( DPhil English), Student Photography Competition


Financial overview

The University retained a surplus of £172.9 million in 2015/16 compared to £392.3 million in 2014/15. The University’s financial statements have been produced this year under Financial Reporting Standard 102 for the first time.







(Deficit)/Surplus on ordinary activities 
Investment gains



Total comprehensive income retained within General Reserves


In the financial year 2015/16 the University generated a total comprehensive income of £173 million and managed total funds of £3 billion. However, the financial performance depended heavily on healthy investment returns in the year which contributed an income of £188 million and, for a second year, the operating surplus of 3.3% fell short of the University’s key financial target of at least 5% of total income. The University faces a period of economic uncertainty as the UK government negotiates an exit from the European Union and will need to manage resources efficiently if it is to maintain its pre-eminent position among the world’s leading universities.

The significant decrease in the surplus was largely due to two one-off items in 2014/15, being a special transfer from Oxford University Press totalling £120 million and a research and development expenditure credit claim totalling £66.6 million (net of tax payable).




Net surplus for the year (as reported)
Special transfer from Oxford University Press
Research and development expenditure credit claim (net of tax charge)



Underlying surplus for the year



The reasons for the reduced surplus in 2015/16, compared to that of 2014/15, include increased pension and national insurance costs, lower investment gains and new endowments, and higher interest payable on bank loans.

Investment in capital projects totalled £154.3 million and included expenditure on the new building for the Blavatnik School of Government, the conversion of the Outpatients Building for the Department of Primary Care Health Sciences and the refurbishment of accommodation for Statistics. This contributed to a reduction in cash reserves in the year of £21.2 million.

The balance sheet position remains strong. Net assets totalled £3 billion (2015: £2.8 billion). Fixed assets increased by £72 million to £1,411 million and non-current asset investments increased by £197 million to £2,058 million, reflecting an increase of 8.7% in market value and the receipt of new endowments. The University has recognised a liability of £197 million to fund agreed pension fund recovery plans.

Income and Expenditure charts

External research funding

Oxford has the largest volume of world-leading research in the country, according to the UK government’s 2014 assessment via the Research Excellence Framework (REF). Much of this research is funded by external sources, and it is thanks to this support that Oxford researchers continue to advance fundamental knowledge and contribute to public policy, better health, economic prosperity, social cohesion, cultural activity and international development.

Improving water security

Woman takes water from a wellAn Ethiopian woman takes water from a well that will be purified with tablets before drinking

Credit: Shutterstock/Martchan

Water security is an important pathway to sustainable growth and poverty reduction. However, sound scientific evidence is needed to further understand how water resources can be managed and how we can help the world’s most vulnerable communities. 

The School of Geography and the Environment is leading a global seven-year research programme, REACH, to improve water security for the poor. Drawing on interdisciplinary expertise from within the University and through partnerships with research institutions in Ethiopia, Bangladesh and Kenya, the research will generate data on climate, hydrology, health, poverty and demographic trends in order to inform future decision-making by governments and international organisations to improve water security.

Pharmacy as a laboratory of modernity

Newton InhalersA collection of Newton Inhalers used for treating lung disease in the 19th century

Credit: Barry Murnane

Barry Murnane, Associate Professor in German, is currently working on a project with the TORCH, The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities, on research into the treatment of lung disease in the 19th century. A collaboration with the Science Museum in London, the project draws on the Wellcome Medical Collections to focus on the material dimensions of medical therapy, and is contributing to the work of curators as they redesign the museum’s medical history display. Other activities include workshops with lung disease stakeholders and education specialists, outreach sessions and public events, and the development of new ways to disseminate research in pharmaceutical history.


Scientists at the Wellcome Trust for Human Genetics have developed an easy-to-use computer program that can quickly analyse bacterial DNA and predict which antibiotics will work. Drug-resistant infections pose a major threat to global health and one of the best ways to prevent the spread of resistant bacteria is to make sure that patients are treated quickly with the right type of antibiotic. The Mykrobe predictor software runs on a standard laptop or tablet and can analyse the entire genetic code of a bacterium in under three minutes without the need for specialist expertise.

Monitoring chicken flock behaviour

Researchers at the Department of Zoology have developed a technique to monitor the movement of chickens that can be used to predict which flocks are at risk of becoming infected with Campylobacter, the most common bacterial source of food poisoning in the UK.

By using a camera system to analyse the ‘optical flow’ of chickens, at-risk flocks can be detected when the birds are only seven to ten days old. This new early warning system has the potential to transform the way Campylobacter is controlled, with benefits for both human health and animal welfare.

Monitoring chicken flock behaviourMonitoring chicken flock behaviour

Credit: jocic/Shutterstock