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The digital road to recovery

The digital road to recovery

29 July 2022

This month, we released our Annual Report for the financial year ending April 2022. It includes an update on our financial performance, key achievements from the past year, and the initiatives we have in place to support our communities.

The report highlights that we have made encouraging steps towards a post-pandemic recovery and presents positive results; demonstrating our growth and resilience.

As for so many other organizations, the last two years have presented significant challenges to our business and forced us to adapt and accelerate our plans towards digital transformation—something that we will continue to invest in as we adapt to a new ‘normal’. It is perhaps no surprise that the proportion of our digital sales increased for 2021-22. 

That’s not to say that the print format is no longer important; it still has its place, particularly in markets where there is less accessibility and connectivity, and the digital divide is pronounced. As highlighted in our research report, Addressing the Deepening Digital Divide,—which was published in October 2021 and explored the impact of the shift to digital learning during the pandemic—70% of teachers said the most disadvantaged students lost learning due to limited or no access to digital devices.

But we cannot deny that the needs of our customers have changed—and indeed, continue to change—and we have had to respond by evolving our existing products and services and creating new, innovative content. There are many such highlights from the past year, but to shine a light on a couple:

  • In our Education Division, our team in Australia & New Zealand launched Oxford Digital 5—a platform that delivers personalized learning journeys—and have reached over 700,000 users so far.
  • In our ELT Division, we introduced the Oxford English Hub—set to be the single digital destination for teachers and learners of English, providing access to all digital course materials in one place. After a successful pilot, the Hub generated over 60,000 new user sessions and 900 trials for new courses.

And in our Academic Division, we continue to expand our Oxford Academic platform to make high-quality scholarly content available as widely as possible. This month, we successfully migrated our core research book content and digital products onto the same online platform that we use for our journals, which means that our users are now better able to share and connect ideas that have the potential to advance research. It further demonstrates our commitment to transform in line with industry trends; to be at the forefront of cutting-edge research and represent a diverse range of perspectives and voices; and to provide the resources that help people to explore and interrogate ideas.

When defining the role of university presses, the Association of University Presses said that they help to make ‘scholarly endeavour possible…serving the public good by generating and disseminating knowledge.’ It aligns to the sentiments I shared in my last article about how everything we do at OUP is geared towards the pursuit of truth.

I continue to be amazed at the number of high-quality titles that we publish and the number of countries we have a presence in across the world. But I’m also incredibly proud of how people use the resources we create to advance thinking, inspire healthy debate, and inform society.

That’s why we will continue to pursue the opportunities from creating new digital tools to access and deploy education and research content faster, and more effectively, and support people to develop those all-important critical thinking skills so that they can make sense of the world around them. Of course, we cannot predict the future, and there will undoubtedly be more uncertainties ahead. However, I remain confident that—with the capability and commitment of our people—we can tackle these challenges head-on and fulfil our mission.