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Annual Report Published

Submitted on 21 April 2020

The college has published its Annual Report for 2019-20, which has been sent to alumni and friends – and is also available online here: https://www.selwynalumni.com/publications

The report was being prepared while the health emergency was developing, so the master Roger Mosey has also written a letter with the latest news on how the college is responding to the crisis.

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Dear alumni and friends

I want to supplement the annual report you’re receiving from us with some updated information about the health emergency. The most important thing to say is that we stand with the NHS in the UK and with all those across the world doing their best to keep us safe; and we express our solidarity with the Selwyn community in these troubling times.

The effects of the crisis on Cambridge have been profound. There will be a deeply unconventional Easter term here, and most of our students have left the college. We will still offer teaching and supervisions and pastoral care, but it will almost all be done remotely; and this will be an exam season like no other, with a completely altered assessment regime. Our academic staff are working hard to maintain the strongest links they can with students, and we will never shirk from our commitment to the highest possible standards of education.

Some students and Fellows are still here – either because they couldn’t travel or because this is simply their home. We are enormously grateful to our staff who are looking after them, albeit through much-reduced and basic services; and the commitment of the teams of Selwyn to the wellbeing of the community has been tremendous. We have even had a pop-up fruit and vegetable shop in Hall to offer healthy food to those who are still in residence.

The annual report is, of course, retrospective; but in preparing it, we were aware of the looming external crisis. In particular, the bursar spotted that the relative calm of his figures for 2019-20 would not withstand the storm. At this stage, we can only make a preliminary assessment – and the calculation is that the health emergency could add between £2m and £2.5m to the college deficit within this calendar year. We are urgently exploring how we can mitigate the impact through some of the government initiatives available, such as the Job Retention Scheme.

The endowment has also been significantly reduced by the turmoil in the markets, though the early indications were that we had not suffered as much of a reverse as the main indices. But this will, to put it mildly, add to the challenges facing the college. We are still determined to do the right things, as in the swift decision by the Governing Body not to charge rents for Easter term to students who are not in Cambridge; and we will not abandon the civic responsibilities that are part of Selwyn. We do, however, face continuing choppy waters as do individuals, companies and governments.

We are helped by the prudence of recent years. Other educational institutions paid for their new buildings by borrowing, whereas we are extremely fortunate to have had our library and auditorium fully funded by alumni and friends. I am delighted to report here that we have now hit the financial target of £12.6m. You will understand that the project has been delayed by the emergency, but we still have every hope of wonderful new facilities in 2021.

This also means that we can focus our philanthropy on what will unquestionably be an acute area: student support in the light of the health and financial crisis. Demand can only increase, and we need to be prepared to maintain this college’s mission that anyone with the right talent can come here irrespective of their background. If you’re interested in finding out about the current opportunity to secure matching funds for any donations made for student support, please contact our development team via development@sel.cam.ac.uk.

For now, though, I hope you enjoy reading the annual report; and that you’re inspired, as we are, by the vast range of people who enable the college to be world-class.

Roger Mosey

Master, Selwyn College