Oxford will maintain its links with Rupert Murdoch, embattled tycoon and founder of News Corporation, despite allegations of the company’s involvement in illegal phone hacking.
A university spokesperson stated, “In 1990 Oxford received an endowment from News International with three strands: one that funds the Rupert Murdoch professor of language and communication; one that provides for a Times Lectureship endowment that funds three lecturers; and the News International Fund that provides various small grants, an annual News International visiting professor of media and a work experience scheme for current students who are interested in journalism.’
Many companies withdrew their advertising from The News of the World before it was closed and there is currently market speculation that News International will be sold by its American parent, News Corporation.
When asked if the university would sever its ties with Murdoch in light of the phone hacking scandal, the spokesperson commented, ‘Our full processes of scrutiny were carried out at the time of the endowment.’
Jean Aitchison, who holds the position of emeritus Rupert Murdoch professor of language and communication at Worcester, told the Times Higher Education supplement, ‘At Oxford, the chair is simply regarded as a generous gift from an ex-student.
‘Whatever happens subsequently at News International has nothing whatever to do with me or with the chair’s current holder.
‘I’m simply grateful for (Murdoch’s) generosity to Worcester and Oxford University, and whatever is happening at News International is of course of interest to me, but only as a newspaper reader.’
As a part of Murdoch’s endowment, the English Faculty runs a summer internship scheme to encourage aspiring journalists to work for the newspapers owned by News International.
When asked whether the Faculty would reconsider its relationship with News International in light of recent developments, a spokesperson declined to comment.
The application for this year’s placement with News International reads, “The News International Benefaction includes a scheme which allows some students to have a short period of work experience with newspapers in the News International Group, which includes The Times, The Sunday Times, The Sun, and The News of the World.
“The scheme is open to second- and third-year undergraduates and postgraduates within the first three years of their studies. The selected students will be known as Rupert Murdoch Scholars and will receive a bursary of £200 if living outside London, £120 if resident in London.”
One source informed Cherwell that students who were offered placements with News of the World this summer were likely to be relocated to another News International publication after the newspaper was forced to close down last week after 168 years due to allegations of phone hacking.
Murdoch studied PPE at Worcester and contributed to Cherwell as a business manager during his time at Oxford.