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A strong year in academic publishing

A strong year in academic publishing

05 July 2018

We have released our 2017/18 Annual Report, showing that we came close to equalling the strong trading performance of last year, with good growth in our academic division offset by more subdued results from our education businesses.

Our turnover figure of £840.1m was a slight headline decline of 0.9 per cent. After a year of significant investment, trading surplus declined by 7.3 per cent to £114.9m. On a like-for-like basis at constant currency rates, turnover was down 0.9 per cent and trading surplus was down by 1.5 per cent.

The performance from our academic division was the result of growth in journals business and a record number of translation deals. We also benefited from the 2017 acquisition of US-based Higher Education publisher Sinauer which added a range of high-quality biology, neuroscience, and psychology titles to our portfolio. It was a more difficult year for our educational publishing, due to fewer curriculum reform opportunities in a number of major markets, including the UK, Spain, and Hong Kong, and the absence of some one-off tender business enjoyed in 2016/17. Government intervention also influenced education policies and purchasing decisions in many countries, such as India, where there is increasing pressure on schools to use government-produced materials.

Reflecting on the past year, Chief Executive Nigel Portwood said: ‘I am very pleased that despite market difficulty we were able to achieve such a good underlying result. We were also able to continue to increase our investment in technology and market expansion, in line with the opportunities that we see.’

Highlights from the Annual Report this year include an increasing utilization of technology and broadening assessment offers:

  • A 10 per cent increase in academic journal usage.
  • The launch of the Oxford Test of English—an online general English proficiency test, certified by the University of Oxford.
  • Piloting Oxford STAR—a standardized test for assessment in India.
  • Piloting mock university entry exams in OUP China-Hong Kong. In total, 5,300 prospective students took part in the mock exams.
  • Launching eight new languages—including Tamil, Gujarati, and Tok Pisin—as part of the Oxford Global Languages programme, which aims to build lexical resources for 100 languages and make them available online.

Additionally, we saw strong success in supporting large-scale government initiatives. In Kenya, we supported the government-led Secondary Education Quality Improvement Programme, which set out to provide each schoolchild with a textbook for six core subjects. We were able to produce and deliver four million books to 8,500 Kenyan schools in just three months. Elsewhere, we also supported the Kazakhstani government’s tri-lingual education policy through the Ministry of Education-approved title, English Plus Kazakh.

Read our Annual Report