University smashes fundraising target

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The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford has announced an extended fundraising goal of £3bn.

Professor Andrew Hamilton’s announcement follows the Oxford Thinking Campaign successfully surpassing its initial target of £1.25bn last March. The Vice-Chancellor was speaking at his annual Oration delivered in Convocation House.

While he recognised that the sum raised was “remarkable milestone”, Professor Hamilton argued that it was “a milestone nevertheless on a continuing road.”

But the Vice-Chancellor was confident that the new target could be reached, saying: “I am sure we can do it, and frankly we have to do it, because it represents the essential down payment on the future aspirations and achievements of our University.”

He also used the Oration to launch “The Oxford Graduate Scholarship Matched Fund” which aims to raise £100m towards new graduate scholarships by July 2017. Donations will fund the first 60 per cent of these with the University supplying the other 40 per cent.

Professor Hamilton promised that the University will do everything in its power to bridge what he called the “graduate funding gap.” He said: “This exciting new initiative-drawing actively once more on the power of philanthropy-reflects the seriousness of that intent.”

The recent changes to UK education funding have placed philanthropy high on the agenda. Professor Hamilton said that the government’s recent retreat from providing direct funding for many aspects of higher education “has caused a great deal of anger, sorrow and soul-searching.”

100 UK undergraduates from low-income families are supported by the Moritz-Heyman Scholarship Programme which is founded on a £75m commitment from alumnus Michael Moritz, believed to be the biggest philanthropic gift for undergraduate financial support in European history.

A £75m donation from Leonard Blavatnik has seen the foundation of the Blavatnik School of Government which has recently admitted 38 students from 19 countries, while a £26m gift from Mica Ertegun has supported 16 postgraduate humanities students.

But Professor Hamilton was careful to stress the continued importance of public funding, due to the “sheer scale of resources needed to fund major research projects.” He warned that philanthropy was not “a magic bullet for the future funding of our universities,” nor was it “a door through which the state can progressively leave the scene.”