The headline statistics that illustrate the School’s size and shape
Until the Covid-19 pandemic forced the suspension of face-to-face teaching, Saïd Business School had been enjoying a year of strong performance. The UK entered lockdown on 23 March, but the forecast prepared in February ahead of that predicted the School would end the year with revenues up 14 per cent and its surplus up 17 per cent year on year.
Performing particularly strongly before lockdown were Custom Executive Education (CEE), which delivers bespoke learning programmes to a range of public and private sector clients across a variety of markets. At the end of February 2020, seven months into the financial year, its revenues were running 13 per cent ahead of budget and 26 per cent above the previous year.
As the global pandemic took hold and lockdown measures were put in place, a number of clients took the decision to delay planned learning programmes, although several organisations expressed an interest in online delivery. As CEE had already developed digital delivery capability, it was able to successfully transition several clients from a classroom-based experience to an online option.
The Open On-Campus Executive Education portfolio was on track to deliver revenues matching the annual budget, which had been set at 22 per cent ahead of the prior year. The expansion in revenue was predominantly driven by new Corporate Governance and Strategy programmes that were scheduled to run in the later stages of the year. However, lockdown measures forced the cancellation of all on-campus deliveries, with resumption — likely virtual — planned in FY21.
The Open Digital portfolio expanded significantly in FY20 with 11 programmes now available to participants compared to six in FY19, facilitated through our well-established partnership with GetSmarter. Given the restrictions on travel, digital programmes proved very popular with participants, and revenues for the year were double those of FY19 and 25 per cent higher than budget.
Participants exceeded the forecast by 1,400, with established programmes such as Fintech and Blockchain attracting steady numbers, while new programmes in leadership, entrepreneurship and innovation proved far more popular than predicted.
The School’s MBA programme successfully continued its mission to attract a diverse international cohort, with 64 nationalities represented. Of the entrants, 95 per cent came from overseas and 44 per cent were female. Applications for our one-year MBA continue to rise year on year, with the duration of the course, diversity of the cohort and embedded nature of the School within Oxford all being key factors that attract potential students.
Similarly, student numbers on our executive MBA continue to expand and diversify, with 38 per cent of 2019–20 intake being female, and 16 per cent originating from Africa.
Throughout the pandemic, the School has worked hard to protect the learning and co-curricular experience of students. Significant investment has been made in the digitisation of materials, and remote learning technologies, as well as the provision of additional course content. With these investments, and changes to the way we manage our estate, we seek to ensure a safe, effective learning experience for all our students and staff.
Diploma courses commenced in the January timeframe, just as the effects of Covid-19 were beginning to be felt around the globe. Although the number of students signing up for diploma programmes remained strong, a proportion of each cohort opted to postpone their learning to the new academic year in order to enjoy the Oxford learning experience in person.
The School continues to nurture a diverse student body, and during the year 18 per cent of participants were supported through scholarships. Scholarships are generously sponsored by our donors as well as the School, enabling world-class post-graduate education to be made available to all sections of the global community.
Mindful of the climate emergency, we continue to measure the School’s impact on the environment and take steps to minimise our carbon footprint. Food provided to staff and students is sourced locally with vegan options routinely offered; printed materials for courses have been replaced with digital documents; electricity is supplied on a green energy tariff; and a fleet of bicycles is available to staff for travel between sites. Further information on our steps to address the climate emergency can be found on our website.
The School’s key capital priority remains the development of the Osney Power Station, which will provide a world-class state-of-the-art teaching and residential facility for Executive Education participants. The project has now received planning consent and, subject to successful fundraising to close the residual funding gap, is expected to be brought into use in late 2023.
You can find out more about the project by visiting here.