Report of the Secretary to the Delegates

Nigel Portwood, Chief Executive Officer, Oxford University Press

In 2021/22, Oxford University Press reported a Group turnover of £781.3m.

This represented a 3.6 per cent growth on the prior year on an FRS102 basis; at constant exchange rates the growth was 5.9 per cent.

We saw encouraging improvements in trading across many parts of OUP as pandemic restrictions were lifted. Our Academic division—which had been least affected by the impact of the pandemic—maintained its good trading momentum, seeing continued demand for high-quality research content. Our Education and ELT divisions also saw a return to growth, with particularly strong performances in the UK, Pakistan, Argentina, and Turkey.

Digital-only sales grew by six per cent, with all three divisions reporting good increases. Print sales continued to decline in Academic and ELT by eight per cent and three per cent respectively. However, for OUP overall, they grew by three per cent due to strong recovery in Education.

Although there remains some market uncertainty, we have made significant steps towards recovering our pre-pandemic turnover. This has been supported by the transformation of our business to become more digital—a trend that accelerated during the pandemic, and which has persisted. In response, we have focused more attention to evolving our products and services to meet the changing needs of our customers:

  • In Academic, we have been working on a project to migrate our core academic book content to the Oxford Academic platform, which already hosts our journals content. We anticipate that this migration will be complete during the summer of 2022.
  • In ELT, usage of the Oxford Learners Bookshelf—which provides interactive eBooks, learning activities, and teacher resources—has more than doubled in the past year, delivering close to 30 million learner sessions.
  • In Education, OUP ANZ launched Oxford Digital 5—a platform that delivers personalized learning journeys, assessment, and reporting. There were more than one million user sessions in the first term after launch.

Alongside developing our publishing and services, in September we launched our refreshed brand, further demonstrating our intent to become a digital-first organization.

We also released a global research report, Addressing the Deepening Digital Divide, to highlight the impact of the divide on learners, and to make recommendations on how to maximize the benefits from new learning technologies; while we recognize the opportunities digital allows, steps must be taken to ensure that no one is left behind.

The insights from the report were subsequently discussed at our first Forum for Educators event, which brought together educators from around the world to connect and share ideas.

Oxford University Press’s surplus from trading before interest, funded projects, minority interests, and taxation (reported under the FRS 102 accounting standard) was £107 million, up 45 per cent on the prior year, reflecting the improved trading momentum and continued tight control of expenditure.

Our annual transfer to the rest of the University was £140 million which will support a range of research, scholarship, and educational activities, including the John Fell Fund and the Clarendon Fund.

As we look to the future we expect this year to have to take account of factors outside of our control that could have an impact on our work, such as the changing geo-political and economic landscapes. Additionally, while many of our markets are now open, some are still experiencing restrictions as a result of Covid-19—and we cannot rule out the possibility of this extending elsewhere, especially if new strains of the virus are detected and start to spread.

Nevertheless, I remain optimistic about our prospects.

Thanks to the increasing demand for our high-quality publishing and services, the progress we have made in digital transformation, as well as the impressive capability and commitment of our people, we are well-placed to address and overcome these challenges and fulfil our mission.