University unveils £300m Moritz-Heyman Scholarship

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Oxford University has today announced a £300m funding scheme that will significantly ease the financial pressures of students who come from the poorest households.

The Moritz-Heyman Scholarship, named the “biggest philanthropic gift for undergraduate financial support in European history,” will be financed by Christ Church alumnus Michael Moritz and his wife, Harriet Heyman.

Their initial commitment is £75m, and they have established a ‘matched funding challenge,’ which is expected to bring the final fund to £300m.

The first scholarships will be offered to students starting this October who come from families with an income below £16,000. They are intended to insulate those eligible from the rise in tuition fees and to cover their living costs in full.

In its first year, there will be 100 scholarships available to those in the lowest family income bracket. The university estimates that in the next three years this number could rise to cover more than half of these students. It is envisaged that eventually all such students would be covered by the scheme or similar scholarships. Assessment for the scholarship is based only on the data that is submitted to the Student Loans Company.

Successful applicants will receive £11,000 each year. This is equally split between a £5,500 fee-waiver and a £5,500 bursary. The only debt that holders would need to bear is the £3,500 required to cover residual tuition fees.

In addition, Moritz-Heyman Scholars will receive financial support during vacations in order to fully ensure that “economic hardship does not unnecessarily divert or distract low-income students.”

Scholarship holders will also have access to internships with major institutions in a bid to improve social mobility, supported by the Careers Service.

Among those eligible, priority will be given to applicants who live in the most deprived postcode areas in the UK, attended a school with below-average GCSE and A-Level performance, or have been in care. Applicants who read subjects belonging to STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) will also have priority.

Holders will be asked to supply voluntary work to aid the university’s access commitments. Assistance may involve visits back to their old schools or others in their neighbourhood, taking part in admissions fairs, or mentoring school pupils.

The scheme is being jointly funded by the Moritz family, the University’s endowment fund and further donations from other alumni. The £75m Moritz-Heyman gift will be disbursed in three £25m tranches, as part of their matched-funding challenge. Each £25m tranche will be immediately matched with £25m from the University’s endowment fund. Before subsequent tranches are disbursed, the scheme must raise a matching £50m from other sources, bringing the final total to £300m.

Unveiling the scheme, Michael Moritz said, “Our new scholarship programme means that a gifted student – irrespective of financial circumstances – will always be 100% confident they can study at Oxford.”

During his time at Oxford, Moritz edited Isis, which proved to be suitable training for his later work as a journalist. As a reporter at Time, he uncovered the fact that Steve Jobs, Apple co-founder, had refused to support an illegitimate daughter.

Prime Minister and Brasenose alumnus David Cameron praised the scholarship, commenting, “I welcome this generous donation, which will mean that many talented students, from some of the most disadvantaged backgrounds, will get help and support to study at a world leading university, and have a chance to realise their full potential.”

The Vice-Chancellor, Professor Andrew Hamilton, said, “Oxford is already offering the most generous undergraduate support package in the country. But this remarkable and hugely generous gift and initiative from Michael and Harriet allows us to go an important stage further towards our goal of ensuring that all barriers – real or perceived – are removed from students’ choices. It provides extraordinary support – financial and personal – for outstanding students.”

Giles Henderson, Master of Pembroke College, added, “This is a wonderful initiative, which really shows bright young people from low-income families that we want them at Oxford and that they can come to Oxford. The incredible generosity of Michael Moritz and Harriet Heyman’s offer, and the significance of the scheme’s objectives, are such that every possible effort must now be made to get in the ‘challenge funding’ that is a key part of the programme”.

Jack Andrews, a second-year Theology student from Mansfield, commented, “It’s a really great message to send to more disadvantaged applicants that financial support is always available to those who need it.” He added, “It’s also important for Oxford to focus in the future on removing the discrepancy between funding based on the college a student attends.”

In 2008, Moritz donated $50m to his former college, Christ Church, which at the time aroused concerns about the financial inequality among Oxford colleges.

Later today the Prime Minister will meet Moritz, Professor Hamilton, and the Chancellor of Oxford, Lord Patten, to discuss the programme.

Moritz graduated from Christ Church in 1976 with a degree in History and is an Honorary Student of the College. He is Chairman of Sequoia Capital, where he has worked since 1986, and has been a long-serving member of the Board of Directors of a variety of companies including Flextronics, Google, PayPal and Yahoo!. He is a member of The Giving Pledge.

Harriet Heyman is a novelist. Her most recent book is Private Acts: The Acrobat Sublime. She is a former editor at The New York Times.

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