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Oxford and Cambridge lead in university donations

Alumni’s and philanthropist’s donations to British universities have reached a new peak, with the annual Ross-Case survey revealing that a total of £860 million were donated to the country’s 113 institutions in the academic year 2014-2015.

Oxford and Cambridge came top of the ranking once more as the two universities shared almost half this sum between them.

This record was not so much due to a rise in the number of people donating, which increased by approximately 3,000 to ultimately reach 232,520, as to the growth of the sums being given.

Although a larger number of universities were able to secure over £10 million than had been the case in past years, Oxbridge still received 44 per cent of all donations.

Among these was American philanthropists Weslie and Bill Janeway’s £17.6 million donation to Oxford’s Department of Economics, which also went towards the funding of a new fellowship at Pembroke College.

However, these numbers themselves have an initial price for universities which invested a total of £39 million in alumni relations and spent a further £93 million on fundraising campaigns to increase their gift revenue. A number of organisations solely serve this purpose within Oxford, among which the most influential are the University Alumni Office, with its overseas centres, or Oxford Business Alumni.

“It would be dangerous if the University had to rely only on alumni donations”

Ilya Zaslavskiy

The director of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education Europe, John Middleton, told the Times, “University fundraising is based on the development of longterm multi-layered relationships — particularly with alumni — as well as targeted approaches to trusts and foundations.

“That the rate of increase in new funds and pledges secured is outstripping that of donor numbers indicates the value of these relationships and shared goals.”

Warning against the ideological links and the dependence generous donations from multi-millionaire philanthropists may lead to, Oxford graduate and former head of Moscow’s alumni society, Ilya Zaslavskiy told Cherwell, “it would be dangerous if the University had to rely only on alumni donations (especially from a narrow circle of wealthy alumni) or on donations/grants from tycoons and corporations.

“Unless there is a balance between some minimal guaranteed state support and diversified portfolio of contributions from alumni and other donors,” he says, “policies and discourse of the University can be negatively skewed just as we see with the Blavatnik School of Government.”

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