The University of Sunderland is evolving, growing, and transforming the lives of tens-of-thousands of students while investing millions in its campuses, according to its 2020-21 Annual Report and Financial Statements.

Published this week, the report sets out the University’s financial position over the past year and details many of its achievements.

The report notes that the University has:

  • shown year-on-year improvement in the key financial metrics of operating surplus, operating cash generation and cash balance over the last four years;
  • invested £70m over five years in facilities for both students and staff;
  • grown student numbers;
  • played a pivotal role in helping in the pandemic recovery and ongoing vaccination programme;
  • strengthened ties with the Sunderland Students’ Union (SU);
  • expanded the University of Sunderland in London;
  • opened new transnational partnerships across the world, enabling more students to study for Sunderland qualifications oversees; and
  • been shortlisted for the THE (Times Higher Education) University of the Year award.

The University has continued to champion social inclusion and diversity and this was recognised through being named The Times/The Sunday Times University of the Year for Social Inclusion.

As well as restating its life-changing purpose, the report also provides an update on the financial position of the University.

Speaking as the report was published, Sir David Bell, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of the University, said: “Once again, we have demonstrated that our finances are in good shape with an improving underlying surplus and better-than ever cash generation. This is due to robust financial planning and forecasting, and careful management of our costs. Pleasingly too, we have which build on our recent track record of improvements, including our highest-ever cash reserves”.

“Student numbers are growing, new courses are being opened and we are investing £70m over five years in high-quality facilities for students and staff.”

On the issue of being in deficit and having net liabilities, Sir David adds: “Both these factors are a direct consequence of accounting for movements in pension liabilities, associated with its defined benefit pension schemes. These are above and beyond the University’s control and mask the strength of our underlying financial performance.”

University leaders say they are now in a strong position to emerge from the pandemic and, at the same time, maintain long-term financial sustainability.

Sir David added: “I take great comfort in the fact that our success in 2020-21 has been the result of collective endeavour, and a shared belief that the University is a great place in which to study and work.

“As we move into 2022, we are building on our richly deserved reputation for academic excellence, friendliness and constructive debate.”

The full annual report can be viewed here.