On Tuesday 9th February, the University of Bath’s Students’ Union revealed the financial impact that COVID-19 has had on the organisation over the past academic year.
Due to the closure of campus bars, cafés and nightclubs over the past academic year, the organisation has lost £1m in commercial income. Significant measures such as furloughing of staff, freezing non-essential expenditure and recruitment, alongside using the SU’s financial reserves, were all taken to weather the financial challenge posed by the pandemic. After the implementaiton of these key measures, the SU’s deficit is now forecast at £213k.
The Students’ Union is a charity that is independent of the University and receives multiple sources of income. The first and most recent is a block grant from the University, which amounts to £1.7m this academic year. Commercial sales also help top up this figure, along with stall hire, collaborations with external businesses, National Express commissions and Totum Card sales.
In an effort for financial transparency, the SU has announced that they must ‘re-prioritise our spending’ over the next academic year, and replenish the depleted financial reserves in order to ensure the organisation’s long-term sustainability. The new budget plan will mean potential cuts across all areas of the SU’s realm and a diversification of income streams away from bar sales. Currently, the SU is working to find alternative funding, from Alumni Relations and the Department of Development, alongside exploring other cost-effective ways to maintain current SU activities. With this plan in place, the SU aim to break even by the end of Financial Year 2021/22.
SU President Francesco Masala spoke to Bath Time on the matter: “Particularly this year, it has been difficult to reconcile the opportunities that we want to give and the financial needs we need to meet. The constant changes to regulations meant that the activities we put in place could never fully take off. All of these changes have been incredibly frustrating for our staff and students who have been working so hard to weather a series of unprecedented challenges. The fact that we will need to re-look at our budgets for the year ahead is probably the hardest thing I have to say as an SU Officer. The fact that this is necessary to make sure The SU remains financially healthy does not make the reality any less bitter. I take great pride in working alongside an amazing community of students and staff, and the resilience and creativity shown over the past months have been outstanding. So with this comes a great deal of hope and certainty: together as a community, we will be able to weather this challenge and thrive to improve the community we’re part of for the better.“