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Middlesex University Redux

December 11, 2011

As English university financial years run from 1 August to 31 July, the 2010/11 financial statement for Middlesex University has now appeared after being approved by the Board of Governors at the end of November. 

Last year’s difficulties at Middlesex have been documented by me in an article for Research Fortnight, ‘The Truth About Middlesex’.  In particular, the damage to its overseas strategy caused by changes in government immigration policy for students and the collapse, at very short notice, of a planned campus in Delhi.  Middlesex is currently running a compulsory redundancy programme as a result of this damage to its income and the uncertainties associated with the new controls on home/eu undergraduate recruitment.

The financial statement for 2010/11 confirms that, as predicted, Middlesex’s debt has now gone over £100million, to £107million.  On its turnover of close to £180million that gives it a debt to income ratio of 60% in a sector that has consistently averaged 20% for the last decade.  What is noteworthy is that Middlesex had planned to go further into debt to finance its redevelopment of Hendon but that the loan facility listed in 2009/10 as £55million has been reduced to £45million by the lender. 

Middlesex had a further £17m of capital commitments at 31 July 2011 for which contracts had been agreed on £9m, while the confirmed sale of Trent Park is likely to raise at most £30million according to my sources.  Middlesex is now left with outright ownership only of the Hendon site as Archway is jointly owned with UCL. 

Over the next couple of years, Middlesex is likely to preserve its overseas campuses from the concussions in London as this overseas infrastructure (including partnerships) is its main differentiating feature in the English higher education sector.  The Dubai campus is run through a subsidiary established in that city’s free trade zone; that subsidiary is then partner ( with 51% holding) to the joint venture that runs the Mauritius campus; the Indian private education conglomerate JJS has the other 49%.  It is this operation, Middlesex International JSS (Mauritius) Limited, that was to run the Delhi scheme before JSS, who owned the buildings, pulled the plug.

What that priority means for staff and students in London is already becoming clear.  The early disposal of Trent Park means a lot of people are going to be squeezed into Hendon in 2012/13.

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