CUSU has revealed a twist in the tale of its funding deficit. In a document circulated last night, the Student Union gave further details about its reliance on career publications as a source of revenue, and the role that external contracts have played in its funding shortfall.
In a Council meeting held last week, CUSU President Amatey Doku detailed the executive committee’s historically rocky relationship with external publishers.
In the past, publications have constituted a significant chunk of CUSU’s income. Yet when a contract with St James House failed to deliver publications on time, CUSU was left facing anticipated losses of £74,454.
At the meeting last week, Doku described how loose terms in the contract with SJH had led to a situation of ‘slippage’, but maintained that more publications would be arriving in the future. He added that he could not, however, be certain when they would arrive.
However, in a document circulated to council members last night, CUSU explained that its contract with SJH had lapsed in 2015, and that the “final publication of the contract” had been published in March 2016. The document blamed this delayed publication date of March 2016 as a reason for CUSU’s shortfall in its anticipated budget.
The delay, CUSU claims, meant that neither a new contract nor new publication cycle was ready in time for the forecast financial budget of 2016-17. This revelation is likely to raise questions amongst council members, who may ask why, if the publishing contract with SJH ended in 2015, a future source of revenue had not already been identified.
The document provided further explanation of CUSU’s precarious reliance upon external publishing contracts as a source of revenue. It said how it had become relatively dependent upon these as an income source, in part due to the Union loosing its footing in Cambridge’s nightclub scene in 2008.
It details how CUSU has repeatedly asked the University for support to end its reliance on this external commercial area, but such requests have largely “not been accepted”. While the University had gifted CUSU funds until the end of the 2016 year, it has since not renewed this funding, meaning that CUSU will have to develop a longer-term strategy to generate revenue.
CUSU also explained that, while budget figures show that its staffing costs have risen by almost £50,000, overall “personnel costs” (referring to the total cost of all employees) have decreased by 3%.
In addition, it revealed that no cuts to TCS were to be expected as part of a new financial strategy.
CUSU adds that it may still enter into future publications contracts, as these have generated more direct funding between 2008 and 2017 than what has been received from the University over the same period.