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Financial Information

Financial Information for the year to 31 July 2018

We present the full financial results for King’s in our Financial Statements but this part of our website explains the university’s finances in a less formal and more accessible way.


See also: Sources of King's income (png 450kb)

This is how we performed in the year to 31st July 2018;




Total comprehensive income for the year



Total income



Net cash inflow from operating activities as a % of total income



Unrestricted reserves as a % of total income



External borrowings as a % of total income



Net liquidity days

83 days

124 days

Staff numbers, average headcount



Student numbers, full-time equivalent (July return to the Higher Education Statistics Agency, HESA)



Research: new and renewed awards (forward order book)



Fund-raising: new cash and pledges for the university and partners



King’s is a charity and any surplus we make is reinvested to advance research, teaching and the student experience. Financial performance can be measured at a number of levels; the two most important being total Comprehensive Income and Operating Cash for investment. These are often stated as percentage returns on total income.

We reported Comprehensive Income of £22m in our accounts but for management purposes we primarily report and budget operating cash for investment. This is Comprehensive Income adjusted for non-cash items such as depreciation. Longer term, we need to generate about 6% operating returns to fund our academic strategy.

Our results for the year were close to budget but about £2.6m/1.5% below where we expected them to be. Research income came through slower than expected and although our forward order book grew by c 23% the growth hasn’t yet hit our financial results. But working the other way, we spent less on staff costs than we expected. 

The net liquidity days indicator expresses our cash reserves as the number of days of expenditure it would cover. We expected this to decrease during the year as we completed some large estates investments eg Bush House. 

King’s monitors a wide range of academic, environmental and financial-sustainability metrics through a Balanced Scorecard which has four quadrants; Education, Research, Diversity and Sustainability. Financial measures are included in the sustainability section. Financial sustainability means managing our resources so that we can meet spending commitments both now and in the future in support of our academic mission. In practice this means we need

  • A strong balance sheet
  • Income from a range of different sources
  • Sound financial planning and administration
  • The ability to generate surpluses for investment


Where does our income comes from?

Just over one third of our income comes from Government sources either directly through grants from the Office for Students or indirectly from the Research Councils and the NHS. Income from the NHS reflects the important role we play in health education and research, grants from the OfS reflect the cost of providing high quality teaching and we generate income on a competitive basis from publicly funded research institutions such as the Research Councils

About 30% of our income is “restricted” which means we can only spend it on the purposes for which it was given. This typically includes research grants and work done for the NHS.

The rest of our income is pooled and spent supporting our activities.

What do we spend it on?

56% of our costs related to pay and this includes staff on research contracts whose costs are recovered from the grant income. It also includes a number of clinical academics for whom a proportion of costs are reimbursed by the NHS. The next largest category is expenditure on premises (14% of the total) covering utilities, maintenance, rent and rates.

As well as the operating costs of premises we used our cash to invest in just under £134m of assets in 17-18. Our investments are split about 30% of student facilities such as teaching spaces, another 30% on student residences and the rest is split between research and infrastructure projects.

Do we make a profit? And what do we do with it?

King’s is a charity whose objects are to advance education and promote research for the public benefit. We are a “not for profit” organisation, which means our income has to cover our expenditure and investment needs if we are to support our students and our research endeavour over the long term.

We plan to generate a surplus of income over expenditure to afford our future investment needs and we supplement our surplus from other sources;


We invest about 60% of our funds in students and education and the rest is split between research and infrastructure investments.

Why do we talk about needing a strong balance sheet and what does one look like?

A strong balance sheet means an organisation is more likely to be financially sustainable and can weather changes in the economic environment more easily. There’s no single definition of a strong balance sheet but it generally means more assets than liabilities, enough cash to pay bills as they fall due and enough income to comfortably cover borrowings.

Why are fees for overseas students higher?

Our teaching for home/eu students is funded partly by the UK Government giving us a set amount for teaching each student and the Government also gives us grants to fund academic research which in turn informs our teaching.  We don’t get government funding for any of our international students which is why we have to charge the full cost of teaching through higher fees.

Why can’t you tell me exactly where my fee goes?

We have a range of fees, depending on whether you are a “home” (UK and, for now EU) student, the subject you’re studying and whether you are studying at undergraduate or postgraduate level. We also have a number of different sources of income. Some of these income sources are matched to specific expenditure; for example, income we receive to reimburse us for services provided to the NHS, but otherwise we use all our income to support all our activities and we don’t, for example, put income received from a medical student into a fund that is only used for medical students.

 Fees contribute about 41% of our income and the same proportion of our expenditure is spent on academic departments and studentships, though this doesn’t include things like premises costs and student support functions such as Admissions.

How are my fees set?

The Government determines how much tuition fee income we receive from home students by setting the maximum level of tuition fee we can charge and it also partly regulates the number of undergraduate students we can recruit by setting limits on medical and dental student numbers.  The current £9,250 maximum level of tuition fee for home undergraduate students starting in 2017-18 or later may be subject to changes at some point in the future, depending on government policy.

Currently EU domiciled students pay the same fees as UK students, but longer term will depend on Government legislation arising from the EU exit negotiations.

Fees for other students (mainly post graduate and international students at all levels of study) are reviewed annually and set against a background of the cost of the programme, publicly available competitor information and demand.

Where does King’s invest its endowment funds?

We invest philanthropic income in pooled endowment trusts to generate enough income to invest in studentships, academic posts or other purposes agreed with the donor.

The College has no exposure to tobacco producers and the fossil fuels exposure is reduced to 3.5% with ongoing reviews looking to reduce this to zero by 2022/. We are also looking increase our investments with socially responsible benefits from c 15% currently to around 40% by 2025. Both of these initiatives will be subject to there being no significant impact upon financial risks and returns.

At the end of July 2018 our money was invested in the following funds:



BlackRock Developed World ex-tobacco Index Fund


BlackRock GiltTrak


Magellan Global Equity


Lindsell Train Global Equity


Ownership Capital Global Equity


Schroders Property Fund


Acadian Emerging Markets Fund ex- fossil fuel


Cordea Savills Charities Property Fund


Generation Asia Emerging Markets


Payden & Rygel Global Inflation Linked Bond Fund



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