I am sure many of you will be interested to hear a bit about what is going on in the centre of the University.
We are working hard through ‘Silver’ and ‘Bronze’ group to deal with immediate issues like next term’s exams, enabling vital COVID work to continue and making sure our buildings are kept fit for purpose during the lockdown. Everyone is pulling together and getting used to virtual working. It is remarkable, I think, that we got the payroll out at the end of the month without a hitch.
My particular areas of responsibility include the estate and financial matters. We are reviewing all our capital projects. So far most of our sites have temporarily closed down, but essential work to demolish the Tinbergen Building and complete the Biochem 2 building is continuing. We don’t know yet, but we hope to keep these two projects on site.
In terms of the University’s finances, we are affected by the slump in the stock market, the likely impact on the numbers of overseas students that will come to Oxford next year and by delay to research projects. The University has high levels of liquidity and we will find our way through the current crisis, but we will undoubtedly have to make adjustments.
The financial planning round for 2020/21 was almost complete when lockdown started. It was a huge amount of work and unfortunately we will have to reopen it in the period after Easter. This will be done in our usual collaborative way, in discussion with Divisions, Departments, the Colleges, the University Administrative Service and the Gardens Libraries and Museums. It will involve a lot of work across the University. There will be difficult issues, but as in the global financial crisis in 2008, we will work together to ensure that the University’s academic endeavour remains strong.
I would like to thank the brilliant Finance and Estates teams for all their hard work in these extraordinary times.
Stay at home. Eat well. And get some exercise! At least, that is what I am trying to do.
With best wishes to everyone.
Dr David Prout
Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Planning and Resources)