Bursar’s Report

Dr Simon Brockington

This has been a year of team building and personnel change for many of Homerton’s departments.  As you’ll have read elsewhere in this publication, one of the most significant is that Dr Penny Barton will retire as Senior Tutor on 1 January 2024. 

Dr Simon Brockington

Happily, after a wide-ranging external recruitment round, our own Dr Georgie Horrell has accepted Lord Woolley’s invitation to take on the role.  Almost Georgie’s first act in post was to appoint a new Deputy Senior Tutor, and we’re thrilled that Dr Junius Olivier will be joining us in early-2024 from the London School of Economics where he was an undergraduate tutor.

But it’s not just the academic side of the house where we’ve seen change.  Many of you will know Matthew Moss who stood down as our Director of Communications and Engagement in September 2023.  Matthew achieved many things during his seven years with Homerton, including not least the yearlong Homerton 250 celebrations which commemorated the College’s developments since its founding in 1768.   Naturally we are missing Matthew’s upbeat bonhomie and his encyclopaedic knowledge of the University of Cambridge.   We all wish Matthew well for his future exploits, and we’re especially pleased that he’s agreed to stay with Homerton as an Associate Fellow.

Matthew leaves big shoes to fill, but I’m delighted that Madeleine Avery joined us in September 2023 from Strathclyde University to lead our Fundraising and Development Office.  We’ll be hearing a lot more from Madeleine as she settles into her new role.

Soon afterwards, Lester Holloway joined us to lead Homerton’s external and internal Communications Office.  Lester has a lifelong career in communications, having worked with organisations as diverse as the Trades Union Congress, Runnymede Trust and more recently as news editor at The Voice.

Great Hall Formal at Homerton College

The Great Hall and its kitchens are back into service as a wonderful dining venue.

Recent years have seen significant building works at Homerton’s campus.  The new sports grounds and the Dining Hall both opened in 2022.  This leaves Homerton with a substantial estate, which includes two dining halls, 750 student bedrooms, a library, gym and dance hall, as well as considerable office space.  Almost inevitably, we’ve used 2023 for a period of reflection and consolidation.  Under Lord Woolley’s leadership, our intention in 2024 is to develop a renewed Strategy for Homerton College.  The estates strategy will form part of this document, and early indications suggest that ensuring we have accommodation available for all undergraduate students (and many postgraduates too) is an important next step.  Not an easy challenge given we have one of the largest undergraduate populations of all the University Colleges.

Governing Body approved the audited accounts on 27 November 2023.  One of our Key Performance Indicators is the surplus or deficit before other gains and losses, as this broadly indicates how well the College is living within its means.  It includes all the income and expenditure related to education, residences, catering, conferencing and donations, but excludes changes in values of the college’s investments and pension funds.  This year, the result was a deficit of -£2m, improved slightly from last year’s result of -£2.6m.  The deficit arises mainly due to the education account, this is because, in common with other Cambridge Colleges, it costs us quite a lot more to provide an undergraduate education than we are able to raise from the government regulated tuition fee.  This is a reflection of steadily rising costs of labour and utilities while the tuition fee remains unchanged.

We are rising to the financial challenge through being ever more careful with our cost controls, and by focusing on the development of our conference business.  Indeed, the recovery of our conference trade since the end of the Covid Pandemic has been one of the major successes of 2023, and we owe a considerable vote of thanks to Bobbie and her team for their hard work and dedication.  We have further potential to expand conference income in 2024 as we gradually bring the Great Hall and its kitchens back into service as a dining venue.