Oxford Vice Chancellor wants Chinese money

Vice-Chancellor Andrew Hamilton is looking to the East for a solution to what he calls the University’s “dire financial situation.”

In a fundraising event in Hong Kong last Wednesday, Hamilton met more than 1,500 Oxford alumni as part of the University’s new drive to win Chinese donations. Hamilton also hosted similar receptions in Beijing on 12th April and in Shanghai on 29th April.

Speaking at a separate forum hosted by a Hong Kong university last Friday, Hamilton added that British higher education as a whole was struggling because of government cuts to higher education funding: “We are certain to be tightening our belts and cutting down on certain activities. We will have to find alternative sources to sustain our funding.”

The University said in January that the cost of its teaching was “becoming unsustainable,” and that it would “explore all possible avenues for closing the funding gap.”

In an interview with The Oxford Student at the beginning of his term in office last October, Hamilton declared “funding issues will be uppermost in my mind” and said alumni donations “are a source of income that should be expanded on”.

But not all Hong Kong or Chinese alumni think the fundraising drive will be successful. One Hong Kong alumnus said: “I don’t think Chinese alumni are in a particularly strong position to donate right now, so they shouldn’t be targeting us. I’d rather give back to the Hong Kong community.”

While Oxford is enduring tough times financially, many Chinese universities have seen their donations increase.

“It is clear to me the leading universities in China are on a trajectory to be leading universities of the world. I suspect that in ten years they will be there,” Hamilton said.