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15 November, 2023 - 21:13 By News Desk

Cambridge University arm hits £1bn revenue as it spreads learning across the planet

Cambridge University Press & Assessment – a world leader in assessment, education, research and academic publishing – last year achieved £1 billion in revenue for the first time and reached 100 million learners worldwide. Revenue is up from £860 million in the previous year.

More than 114 million Cambridge research papers, book chapters and scholarly materials were downloaded and over 50 per cent of new Cambridge research articles are now published open access.

The growth in impact comes two years after Cambridge University Press merged with Cambridge Assessment – both  separate departments of the University. Cambridge University Press & Assessment remains a wholly-owned University department, with profits being reinvested into the organisation’s educational mission. 

The organisation explores, collaborates and innovates to find bold new ways to spread knowledge, spark enquiry and aid understanding. It helps people across the world to realise their potential, benefiting society and the planet. 

Through its products and services, it informs action around some of the world’s most pressing challenges, including climate change, and is committed to reducing its own environmental impact.

Peter Phillips, Chief Executive of Cambridge University Press & Assessment, said: “This year, our revenue reached £1 billion for the first time. More importantly, we also reached 100 million learners worldwide. Both of these achievements reflect the extraordinary impact that we are having through our work, whether it’s with teachers, learners or researchers.

“Revenues reached £1 billion for the first time, up from £868 million last year. Taking out the effect of currency movements, that’s 12 percent underlying growth. Each product group grew, and as demand has returned, we’ve been ready to meet it.

“Our English group had a strong year with fully integrated sales teams offering new solutions that draw on the combined capabilities of learning and assessment. International Education also delivered substantial growth across the world. 

“UK Education revenues rose and, with the return to exams now firmly established, OCR delivered significantly more GCSEs and vocational qualifications. Revenue growth was slower in our Academic group, reflecting its shift to open access research and online education to address the fundamental changes in markets.

“As with many organisations, sustained high levels of inflation continued to put pressure on our costs. To support our long-term growth, we increased our investment in new capabilities and marketing, and recruited more people in key areas to ensure we have the skills we need.

“Operating profit of £140 million was up 32 percent on the previous year’s £106 million. The £34 million increase reflects a significant underlying improvement in operating profit, as well as favourable foreign exchange differences and the impact of an additional pension deficit recovery charge last year relating to the Universities Superannuation Scheme.

“A brand new world is being formed at high-speed. Students, teachers and researchers face new economic and technological pressures, as well as extraordinary new opportunities. It is our mission to support them in taking full advantage of the opportunities, while being responsive to the new challenges. Together, we can help shape these forces of change.

“At our Digital and Data Day 2023, we brought together technologists, business leaders, government ministers and academics from all over the world to look to the future. 

“We considered changing global demographics, technological transformations – from data science and cloud computing to generative artificial intelligence (AI) – and what all this means for students, teachers and researchers. One speaker reminded us that “for over 400 years, the printing press has been the primary enabling technology of universities.” 

“Over the centuries, our mission has remained constant while the way we deliver has always evolved. We are building on those enduring strengths and capacity to change. 

“You can see that in the forward-looking endeavours and achievements throughout this report. It is there in our dynamism in responding to uncertainty – from generative AI to geopolitics – while remaining completely focused on supporting students, teachers and researchers.

“The opportunity today has never been so great: to reach many millions of people worldwide, from elementary school children, to those pursuing skilled vocations, to scientists and innovators. Seeing what we’ve already achieved with 100 million learners is inspirational. The thought of what more we can do to support each one of those learners is what continues to drive us.”

Professor Deborah Prentice, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge, added: “The Press & Assessment’s extraordinary reach and expertise – now extending to 100 million learners worldwide – underpin its importance to our University. But its impact extends beyond the sphere of higher education.

“The Press & Assessment makes a significant financial contribution to our University, for which I am profoundly grateful. We reinvest every penny into our shared mission. 

“That crucial support has allowed the University to act more ambitiously – contributing to the new Cavendish Laboratory in West Cambridge, the new Heart and Lung Research Institute on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus, the new Whittle Laboratory, Cambridge Zero, and the Student Services Centre.”

“For many people around the globe, Cambridge is known for opening doors to English language learners through IELTS or Linguaskill, for sparking new interests among IGCSE students, and for offering scholars and general readers new insights through Cambridge University Press publications.

“The Press & Assessment makes a significant financial contribution to our University, for which I am profoundly grateful. We reinvest every penny into our shared mission.”

“Among the things that make Cambridge different from other universities, there is one that stands out. Our mission – to contribute to society through the pursuit of education, learning and research at the highest international levels of excellence – is uniquely enhanced by the work of Cambridge University Press & Assessment.

“The Press & Assessment’s extraordinary reach and expertise – now extending to 100 million learners worldwide – underpin its importance to our University.”

Peter Phillips added: “As the world changes, we respond; sub-Saharan Africa is expected to have the world’s highest population growth, which will lead to demands for better and more widely available education.

“Africa is increasingly an incubator for ideas and opportunities in technology and education. We are supporting that growth and learning from our partners throughout the continent. In collaboration with Hewlett Packard, we appointed our first EdTech fellows from 13 countries across sub-Saharan Africa. The commitment of each of them to growing the quality and equity of learning through digital transformation is striking.

“One of our most inspiring publications this year was Andrew Leon Hanna’s 25 Million Sparks, telling the stories of three Syrian women and their extraordinary achievements as entrepreneurs from inside the Za’atari refugee camp. 

“Even in the most trying of circumstances, Yasmina, Malak and Asma built on and sought out education for themselves and those around them, as they built better lives. Aspiration and demand for a quality education knows no bounds. Those stories remind us why we put the individual learner, teacher or researcher first, even as we operate on a vast scale.”

The Cambridge Partnership for Education worked with UNICEF to help Rohingya children access quality education in the refugee camps of Cox’s Bazar. We co-created an assessment framework that matched the learning outcomes of the Myanmar National Curriculum, helping maintain progression, continuity and to enable reintegration when circumstances allow. This important work won the British Educational Suppliers Association’s inaugural ‘Make the Change’ award.

“The continued and growing relevance of our academic books, research journals and other scholarly materials was underlined by the fact that they were downloaded 114 million times during the year.

“Around the world, scholars, students and practitioners want freer and easier access to research insights. We are playing our part at Cambridge, with more than half of our research journal publications now open access. In addition, we are helping researchers in more than 100 low- and middle-income countries to publish their work via open access routes with Cambridge for free. 

“The Cambridge Open Equity Initiative, strengthened by support from libraries around the world, waives article processing charges and allows the widest possible audiences to gain from these scholarly insights.”

Annual Report

• IMAGE: Peter Phillips in Cambridge University Press & Assessment’s office in Cambridge (From Wikimedia Commons – CC BY-SA 4.0 / Author – Cmdcam01).

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