The latest college accounts, obtained by OUSU under the Freedom of Information Act, show that spending on teaching and staff increased significantly in 2007.
Yet the University remains riven by financial inequality, with huge endowments allowing some colleges to supplement their income, giving them a major advantage over poorer institutions.
The accounts reveal that colleges spent £244 million in 2007, with over half going on staff costs. Their combined incomes totalled almost £8 million more than this, meaning that overall the colleges made a slight profit on 2006.
Over £125 million was spent on staff, a rise of over 7% since last year. Yet as colleges look to raise money from tourism, conference facilities and fund-raising, spending on academics is lower than that for other staff, such as caterers, managers and IT experts.
Overall, colleges have capitalised on hiring out their premises as conference facilities during vacations, making over £24 million.
Poorer, newer colleges with more modern rooms have been keen to take advantage of this new source of income, with St Anne’s and St Catherine’s making around £1.6 million a year.
Hertford and Keble do almost as well from conference income, but Christ Church makes the most, receiving almost £2 million.
Christ Church has also been the only college to make a significant amount of money from tourism, making around £800,000. No other college except Magdalen has be able to make more than a six figure sum for admission charges.
Christ Church and New have also tapped in to another lucrative form of income not available to other colleges, together making £3 million from their choir schools.
The biggest division between the colleges continues to be the size of their endowments. Most colleges take in around £2-5million in interest per year, some of the biggest earners being Magdalen, Jesus and Christ Church.
Tracts of agricultural land puts St Johns in a league of its own, bringing in £6 million a year on top of £5 million from financial assets. All Souls is funded almost entirely by endowment income, as it receives nothing from tuition fees.
While historic Oxford colleges are worth hundreds of millions of pounds, they are one of the biggest drains on college finances.
Almost £6 million was spent on maintaining premises in 2007, while tending gardens cost just over £2 million. Wear and tear of buildings means that their value depreciates over time, at an estimated cost of nearly £12 million last year.