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Financial Information

Financial Information for the year to 31 July 2017

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.

source-of-kings-income-2017See also: Sources of King's income (pdf 1.6mb)

This is how we performed in the year to 31 July 2017;





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

124 days

167 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



1 2016–17 excludes directed research, pending development of the new campaign.

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 £24m 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 better than we expected, largely because our expectations around student recruitment were cautious and our admissions cycle was buoyant. 

 How King's spent its money - 2017

Sources of income

King’s monitors a wide range of academic, environmental and financial-sustainability metrics. The financial indicators are focussed around measures of financial sustainability. For King’s, this 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


Credit rating



Standard & Poor’s



Standard and Poor’s affirmed its long-term issuer credit rating of AA- with a stable outlook. This reflects its view that King’s will maintain its strong position in the sector, with high levels of student applications and a strong research standing.

We also look at non-financial aspects of sustainability;

Diversity and inclusion



Senior female staff %



Senior black and minority ethnicity (BME) staff %



King’s is committed to embedding good diversity and inclusion practice into all of its activities so that it becomes a richer and more diverse place to work and study. The university has a dedicated Disability Advisory Service which provides information and support to disabled students and advises staff about engaging with disabled students.


Latest year

Prior year

Ratio of offers to firm acceptances: 2016–17 compared to 2015–16



Average tariff score: 2015–16 compared to 2014–15



BME attainment gap: 2015–16 and 2014–15



Destination of Leavers from Higher Education graduate outcome (first degree): 2015–16 and 2014–15



King’s continued to perform strongly in the various global league table rankings.

Global university rankings


Prior year

Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World Rankings

31st (2018/19)

23rd= (2017/18)

Times Higher Education (THE) World Rankings

36th (2018)

36th = (2017)

Shanghai Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU)

46th (2017)

50th (2016)

The student boycott of the National Student Survey (NSS) resulted in participation rates that were too low to qualify for publication. (The survey results were to be a factor in determining fee increases under the terms of the Teaching Excellence Framework.) This will have a longer-term impact on domestic and global league table positioning.

Research and innovation



% research grants and contracts income from Research Councils



% postgraduate research completion rate



Number of new patents



King’s regularly monitors its performance against a range of environmental objectives and sustainable development targets. These include policies for energy and carbon management, waste management and green transport. Performance against a range of environmental objectives is made available online across the university.

Sustainability is one of the core foundations of Vision 2029 and King’s seeks to follow the 17 sustainable development goals defined by the United Nations. It is working in partnership with other universities to address global challenges through the Global Consortium for Sustainability Outcomes and the PLuS Alliance. Combining the strengths of three leading research universities on three continents – Arizona State University, King’s and the University of New South Wales – the PLuS Alliance is focusing many of our colleagues in those universities to work together around the global grand challenges in health, social justice, sustainability, technology and innovation.

King’s has been an active participant in debates concerning ethical investment. The Investment Subcommittee of the university considers socially responsible investment as part of its asset allocation and investment manager selection process. The King’s endowment is invested in funds that are reviewed to ensure they operate within both the letter and spirit of its ethical investment policy. During the year the university and King’s College London Students’ Union (KCLSU) worked together to reach a common understanding on investment in fossil fuels.

Where our income comes from

Just over one third of our income comes from Government sources and is spread across categories such as fees, research grants and HEFCE grants. This includes income from the NHS reflecting the important role we play in health education and research, grants from the Government to reflect the cost of providing high quality teaching and research and income we generate on a competitive basis from publicly funded research institutions.

39% of our income comes from tuition fees, including money we get from the NHS to teach our nurses, midwives, physiotherapists and dieticians. 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.

How King's spent its money

57% 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 (13% of the total) covering utilities, maintenance, rent and rates.

As well as the operating costs of premises we also invested £117m in assets, 47% of which was spent on student facilities Some of the biggest projects included Bush House, Chemistry laboratories, space for psychology teaching and space for practicing clinical skills. We have a rolling programme of general upgrades to teaching and learning rooms which adds up to about £10m each year.   


Why we need to make a surplus

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 as we no longer receive grants from the government to finance our capital budgets. This chart shows how we fund our investments:

 How King's funds its investments

Where is this year’s surplus being spent?

The surplus will be invested in a range of capital projects including a rolling programme of investment in technology, premises and in learning and teaching facilities across the university.  This chart shows where we plan to invest over the life of our capital plan;

 Investments in capital

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 36% of our income and about 37% of our expenditure in 2016-17 was spent in the academic departments, for example staffing costs. This excludes general education expenditure, such as studentships, which would add another 4% and it doesn’t include things like premises costs and other student support functions.

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. At the end of October 2017 our money was invested in the following funds:



BlackRock Developed World ex-tobacco Index Fund


BlackRock ChariTrak UK Equity Fund


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


Since the 31st July, the current investment in the Acadian Emerging Markets Equity fund has been switched into a fossil fuel-free version of the fund and a £15M investment has been made into the Lindsell Train Global Equity fund which does not invest in tobacco and has no holdings in fossil fuel companies. Generation IM Asia fund is the brainchild of Al Gore in his campaign for sustainability.

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